For the first time since selecting wide receiver A.J. Green in 2011 the Cincinnati Bengals selected in the top 10 of the NFL Draft and oddly enough, they spent the pick on a wide receiver again. The last top 10 pick spent on a receiver was an excellent selection as Green is a perennial Pro Bowl player who is one of the league’s best at his position. This time around, the Bengals used the ninth overall pick on John Ross, who is a very different player than Green. But, regardless of being different, he also could also become a star in the league. Ross could have a huge impact as a rookie and should be given a chance to earn a starting spot.
Here are five reasons why Ross should be starting for the Bengals as soon as his rookie season.
1) Ross’ speed adds a dangerous element to the offense
Everyone knows that the best thing about Ross is his speed, especially after he broke the 40-yard dash record at the combine. A player like John Ross can effectively change an offense completely. His speed alone alters the way teams will need to gameplan for the Bengals’ offense to attempt to cover him and that should be a thing benefit for Cincinnati. Look for Ross to score several game-changing, long-distance touchdowns and convert a fair amount of easy first downs during the season.
2) The second year of Brandon LaFell’s deal could be void, so the Bengals should push to see if Ross warrants that decision
Brandon LaFell played well for the Bengals during the 2016 season as the team’s wide receiver two. He received a contract extensive, which at first seemed to be a two year deal. However, after the details came out, we learned the Bengals have a potential out after the first year of the contract. After the team drafted Ross it seems as if that is more likely to be exercised, but first the team has to decide if Ross is good enough to feel comfortable letting Lafell go. For that to happen, Ross has to see enough snaps to really figure out how well he can play in the pros. LaFell is the likely player to start opposite Green if not for Ross, but, if Ross doesn’t push for the starting job before Week 1, hopefully he’ll prove worthy of overtaking the role shortly after.
3) Ross’ speed opens up the middle of the field
Last year, the middle of the field was often clogged when the Bengals were on offense. With Ross, the middle of the field should open up, allowing Tyler Eifert, Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill to roam free. Ross is going to help keep safeties from being able to drop down into the box and blitz and keep cornerbacks from being able to sit underneath on routes. This will help the running backs and tight ends to get open and exploit defenses.
4) Ross should help fix the Bengals’ issues in the redzone
Without watching Ross, some look at his height (5′ 11″) and assume he wouldn’t be much of a factor in the redzone, a place where the Bengals struggled in 2016. However those people would be wrong. Ross was a very dangerous redzone receiver in college and that will translate to the pros. He has a very nifty move when matched up one-on-one with cornerbacks, and he could go either inside or outside, making it nearly impossible for corners to cover due to his quickness and strong hands.
5) Ross should help draw away double and triple teams from A.J. Green
Even if LaFell was a solid starting wide receiver for the Bengals, he was not a player who scared opposing teams or was able to generate much separation on his own. Due to his speed, other teams will need to respect Ross and that will mean less focus on Green. As scary as it may seem, this may lead to a more efficient and deadly Green.