The NFL draft begins on April 27th in Philadelphia and the Redskins have the No. 17 selection in the first round. This is the fourth in a series of stories analyzing 15 players who could be good fits for Washington at that position.
A gasp went through the media room at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis on March 4. Washington wide receiver John Ross was expected to run fast. But to break an official 9-year-old event record? Ross certainly has a flair for the dramatic. His 40-yard dash time (4.22 seconds) stunned onlookers and sealed his status as one of the upcoming draft’s most electric athletes.
How he fits: Didn’t the Redskins just do this? Washington selected a wide receiver in the first round last season. Josh Doctson didn’t contribute much because of constant pain and soreness in his Achilles’ tendons. But he is on hand this year to help stabilize a position of need after Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson both left via free agency. Jackson is the intriguing name here. He’s actually friendly with Ross, who also shares his mentor’s skillset: A blazing fast deep threat with the ability to track the ball well and better-than-you-think pass-catching skills underneath. Who better to replace Jackson with?
Questions: Injuries are an issue here. Ross had two knee surgeries in three months in 2015 (meniscus tear in right knee, ACL tear in left knee) at Washington and shoulder surgery in March. He has a slight frame. Jackson has held up reasonably well over the years with a similar build, but it’s a concern for anyone of that size. Plays with an edge that can bleed over into too competitive at times. Will getting off the line of scrimmage against physical cornerbacks be an issue? Maybe. Ross struggled with that at times in college.
Ross’ take: “Basically [DeSean Jackson showed] how to use my speed. When to turn it on, when to turn it off. Growing up, I ever had anyone to monitor with me on that. I just was basically running out there. I was so gifted with speed; I just used that versus a lot of people. As you get older, a lot of people get faster and a lot of people get smarter. You just can’t run past everybody.”
What they’re saying:
Mike Mayock, NFL Network: “The concern there, and there are some teams that have pushed him down the board or off the board because of injury, he’s got the surgery on his shoulder, he’s had surgery on both knees, and he’s got a small frame. So the durability is a big issue with him right now.”
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: “He can take the top off the defense. He’s a big-time play- maker. He’s a guy that reminds me a little bit of T.Y. Hilton, a guy that started out his career as a number two, but eventually grows into the role as a number one receiver.”
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