NFL execs on NY Giants’ John Ross: ‘Pure straight line speed’

John Ross #11 of the Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
John Ross #11 of the Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The NY Giants added to quarterback Daniel Jones’ arsenal, signing wide receiver John Ross to a two-year contract Tuesday, adding a much-needed trait. Speed.

It’s no secret that Ross is a speedster. After all, he ran a record-breaking 4.22 second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft, but so far that hasn’t translated to success or production in the NFL.

But, what kind of player are the Giants getting, on a one-year deal for $2.5 million?

“He’s a fast runner, but he’s way too injury prone,” former Minnesota Vikings GM and Executive of The Year Jeff Diamond tells GMenHQ. “He was low cost for the Giants, but they desperately need someone like Kenny Golladay or JuJu Smith-Schuster.”

After battling through a pair of shoulder injuries through the first four seasons of his career, Ross has caught just 51 passes for 733 yards and 10 touchdowns in 27 career games after being chosen No. 9 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals.

“He’s purely a vertical/straight-line speed guy,” an NFC personnel executive tells GMenHQ of Ross, on the condition of anonymity because he is not permitted to discuss players on other teams. “He’s never been very productive, and when you talk to teams around the league, he’s not a guy that many people value.”

Four years into his career, it is fair to wonder if Ross was simply misvalued because of his Combine performance, and overdrafted as a result.

“For all of his speed,” a former GM who did extensive work on Ross prior to the 2017 draft tells GMenHQ. “He was undesized and lacked top-end strength. Watching him then, and watching his career, I’d have thought he’d have done better in the NFL at this point. Sometimes guys just don’t pan out, and there are a variety of reasons for that. He was injured, he dealt with a lack of continuity at quarterback, and he went through a coaching change, which sometimes it’s led to coaches not utilizing him properly and not helping him develop to his full potential.”

Clearly, the NY Giants see upside in adding Ross’s speed opposite Darius Slayton in a receiving corps that Dramatically under-performed in 2020.

Sometimes, all it takes for players chosen high in the draft is a change of scenery.

Nelson Agholor is a prime example … Chosen in the first-round by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015, but averaged just 503 yards and three touchdowns through his first five seasons, Agholor broke out on a one-year prove it deal with the Las Vegas Raiders in 2020 and caught 48 passes for a career-high 896 yards and eight touchdowns.

Could Ross, joining what has become a stable coaching staff focused on fundamentals and catching passes from a developing quarterback with high upside such as Daniel Jones follow in Agholor’s footsteps as 2021’s breakout star?

“Some people believe in taking a chance on failed first-round picks as an investment,” the former general manager says. “Maybe  change of scenery and solid quarterback play will bring out the best in him.”

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Matt Lombardo is the site expert for GMenHQ, and writes Between The Hash Marks each Wednesday for FanSided. Follow Matt on Twitter: @MattLombardoNFL.