We all knew John Ross was excited to become a member of the Cincinnati Bengals. Before the draft occurred, he discussed how well his visit with the Bengals went and how happy he would be if the team selected him. It was a good indicator he was ready to jump on board as quickly as possible, which is exactly what he did by signing his rookie contract on Sunday, just 10 days after the Bengals selected him in the 2017 NFL Draft.
“It feels good to finally be a part of the team,” Ross told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. “It’s been a long process and finally being here and actually signed to the team means a lot.”
Having a player so excited to be a part of this team is a great feeling for the Bengals and their fans. There have been enough guys like Corey Dillon, who famously claimed he would rather flip burgers than continue playing in Cincinnati, for fans to appreciate guys who genuinely want to be here. Luckily, over the years, things have turned around for the Bengals under the direction of head coach Marvin Lewis, who echoed Ross’ excitement in regards to the rookie’s contract.
“It’s great for John that this part of it is out of the way,” Lewis said. “This gives him the opportunity to focus on finishing school and then football and I think that’s important.”
Ross’ desire to finish school and receive his degree is a testament to his character, especially considering how excited he is to start playing with the Bengals. As the Bengals’ first round draft pick, he is projected to make more than $17 million over the next four years, in addition to a $10 million signing bonus. You can’t blame him for wanting to throw everything he has into a career that has already made him a multi-millionaire. But, his education means too much for him to simply not finish.
“The biggest thing is just to see how happy my family is,” Ross said. “That’s really the biggest part. When I see them. I’m the first generation to go to a university and just to see how happy it’s s going to make my mom and my grandmothers.”
Ross will not be taking part in any further Bengals practices until he completes his degree from Washington in mid-June. There’s an NFL rule that players who attend colleges on quarter systems cannot take part in OTAs until they graduate.
“Being an inner city, not having that much growing up, just to come in and see a number like that is a bit different,” Ross said of his contract. “I’m thankful to be able to even be in this position.”
Money aside, Ross’ excitement to become a member of the Bengals is palpable, as well as mutual. The Bengals selected Ross with the No. 9 overall pick because they feel he was the best player remaining in the entire draft class, as well as the player who will improve the roster more than any of the remaining prospects would have. Despite not being able to practice in full with the team this weekend, due to his recent shoulder surgery, getting into drills and being a true part of the team for the first time proved the excitement was justified.
“I learned a lot. That was the big thing about the camp. I feel they trusted my ability,” Ross said after rookie minicamp. “The biggest thing is getting all the mental reps in that I could. It’s tough, especially coming in from a no huddle offense and being able to run as many (different) plays as you do here and not knowing how big the playbook is. I think I’ve got a good grasp of it already and Coach Urban does a great job making it simple.”
With the rookie contract and introductions out of the way, it’s time to see what Ross can do as a member of the team. He certainly seems eager to show us.