The Cincinnati Bengals’ 2017 NFL Draft was widely viewed as a big success. However, that doesn’t mean everyone liked the team’s top pick.
Coming into the draft, Washington Huskies receiver John Ross was viewed as a first-round prospect, though one that should have gone in the mid-to-latter part of Round 1. In fact, Ross was someone who wasn’t even getting a lot of first-round projections until his record-breaking 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine. His 4.22 time broke Chris Johnson’s previous combine record, and it put Ross in the top-10 discussion.
During his final college season, Ross caught 81 passes for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns as one of the most explosive players in college football. But while that was a great season, it was the only one in which Ross made a major impact.
In his first two seasons at Washington, Ross caught a combined 33 passes for 579 yards and five scores across 26 games from 2013-14. Then in 2015, Ross tore his ACL and missed the entire season.
That makes Ross a bit of a one-year wonder, which is why most experts projected to go in the 15-20 range in mock drafts. ESPN’s Todd Mcshay had Ross ranked 21st overall coming into the draft, while Mel Kiper ranked him 20th.
The final Pro Football Focus draft board had Ross ranked 19th. CBS Sports had him ranked 18th. The Cold Omaha Consensus Big Board, which factors in every major draft ranking, had Ross ranked as the 18th-best prospect in this draft.
That means the Bengals reached by about nine spots to take Ross. To be fair to him, most experts ranked Ross low not because of his talent, but because his injury history suggests he’ll have a tough time staying durable in the NFL. He’s already torn his ACL and meniscus in college. Ross is now coming off shoulder surgery, making him one of the biggest boom-or-bust prospects in this draft.
Either Ross will be a major hit in this offense and well worth a top-10 pick, or he’ll be a bust who wasn’t even worth a first-round pick. It doesn’t feel like his impact will be in between. Hopefully, Ross turns into one of the best picks of the Marvin Lewis era and starts making an impact immediately this season.