Throughout the offseason, we’ll be profiling players who may end up in Denver when all is said and done with the 2017 NFL Draft. The Broncos clearly have plenty of holes to fill before they get back to Super-Bowl form and we’ll be examining a long list of players they may choose to help the franchise do just that.
Breaking records at the NFL Combine is always impressive but when it’s a record like Chris Johnson’s 4.24 40-yard dash time, people talk. This is exactly what happened University of Washington wide receiver John Ross, and he is starting to become a household name.
Ross, a junior who has always been known for his speed, ran a 4.22-second 40-yard dash last month and has been climbing the draft ranks ever since. Ranked as the third best receiver in this year’s class, Ross is also humble when being asked questions about his speed and if he would be going for Johnson’s record.
“I'm going to try. I am going to try," he said before running the record breaker. "I don't want to say too much. I'm going to try; I'm going to give it my best.”
The Pac-12 player-of-the-year caught 81 balls for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns in his final season with the Huskies, making his name appear atop of many team's radars.
It is not only the quickness Ross shows every time he touches the football that makes him a special receiver, it’s his hand-eye coordination that makes him a duel threat on both short dump passes and the home-run ball. Ross also has the talent to simply make defenders miss, whether it's with his sheer speed to outrun a defender for the long ball or to create a gap with his stop-and-go ability.
Ross would help alleviate pressure off of Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch with his all-around ability and speed knowing they have another threat at receiver to complement both Sanders and Thomas. While being compared to DeSean Jackson, the three-headed monster of Ross, Sanders, and Thomas would be an absolute nightmare for opposing defenses.
Like many players today, past injuries seem to haunt the smaller-sized standout. The 5-foot-11, 188-pound star has seen his share of injuries throughout his career, including a torn labrum in his shoulder in February of this year that did require surgery. His shoulder is not the only time Ross has been under the knife due to injuries sustained on the field; he has had major surgery on both knees, including a torn ACL that caused the junior to miss the entire 2015 season. The knee injuries did not seem to have any effect on Ross at the Combine, however, and he was asked how they felt during his performance.
“Yeah, they are good. Knees are stable. [I] didn’t hear anything negative back about my knees. Everything went well as I expected.”
How he fits in Denver
With speed and elusiveness comes the natural ability to return kicks as well, which Ross could do and bolster a return game that was lackluster in 2016. With the likes of Tyreek Hill in Kansas City turning games around with one play, Denver desperately needs that explosive player on special teams that can turn games around for the Orange & Blue. During his three-year tenure at UW, Ross returned 86 kicks for four touchdowns, including two for 100 yards each.