There is likely no need to introduce you to Kansas City Chiefs’ undrafted free agent wide receiver Justyn Ross.
Since he was signed by the Chiefs last week, Ross has been as popular a name as any of the draft picks because of the player he was before undergoing spinal surgery after two years at Clemson. When rookie minicamp started up, the team’s social-media managers added coal to the hype train’s engine — posting multiple clips of Ross moving well on the field.
Have a good night, Chiefs Kingdom. pic.twitter.com/4JYZhkVnYb— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) May 9, 2022
It was head coach Andy Reid’s first opportunity to see Ross on the field, all three days this past weekend. He was asked if anything caught his eye about Ross during his Monday press conference.
“Yeah, so I kind of did,” Reid responded. “Big kid that’s smooth and runs well enough. He was kind of feeling himself out here just a little bit having been hurt before, the last couple of years. Sure has a lot of talent there. Smart kid. Smart enough to pick everything up.”
Of course, Reid is realistic about where Ross is as a player. Not only did he have to recover from the spinal surgery, but he also ended his 2021 season early to have surgery on his foot — something that likely prevented him from running at the combine. He ran a 4.63-second 40-yard dash at Pro Day, per Dane Brugler of The Athletic.
It’s still a process of getting him back to where he was as a freshman or sophomore in college, and coach Reid agreed with that sentiment when asked about it specifically.
“I’d probably tell you yes,” Reid answered. “He was knocking the rust off here, but you can see the skill there.”
Andy Reid mentioned a rust factor for #Chiefs Justyn Ross and maybe this is a glimpse into what he means.— Aaron Ladd (@aaronladd0) May 9, 2022
Nothing major; just a reminder that there's room to grow before the fall. pic.twitter.com/HUH27zwyy4
Arrowhead Pride and KSHB 41’s Aaron Ladd provided a good perspective on that process. Ross understands that too, but is obviously optimistic about where he’s headed.
“A lot of hard work... trying to get back to that normal me,” Ross described of the last few months for him. When pushed a little on how far away he is from that point, he kept it simple: “I feel good, I feel good... Yes sir, I feel good.
“It was frustrating, but I’ve never had anything easy for me. I’ve had to push through a lot of stuff. It wasn’t too bad for me.”
On his way to being completely recovered, Ross didn’t land in Kansas City by accident. As an undrafted prospect, he was able to sign with the team of his choosing — and he targeted the Chiefs.
“Having Patrick Mahomes, great quarterback and Andy Reid, great coach, and a good receiving group; it feels like a family,” Ross explained of his decision to sign in Kansas City. “I’ve only been here for a day, but they treat me like family.”
He also acknowledges the way coach Reid and company used another former Clemson wide receiver for a few seasons.
“I’ve seen it. I’ve seen players like me be used — like Sammy [Watkins], who came in here and excelled in this offense.”
However, he didn’t think of Watkins’ name when asked for a player comparison of his. Instead, he went to a divisional rival:
“I like (Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver) Keenan Allen,” Ross revealed. “I like to model my game after Keenan Allen a little bit... He’s a pretty tall guy, 6 feet 2 or 3. He can move real good, run good routes.”
Now that minicamp is over, the Chiefs won’t be back on the field until OTAs begin near the end of this month. With the rest of the offseason in front of them, coach Reid talked more on what to expect from Ross.
“He’ll see all the running that the receivers are expected to do,” Reid confirmed. “He’ll have a chance to talk to the guys. And then he’ll have training camp. We’ll see how that all rolls, but right now, he’s good to go. He did well with it.”
From Ross’ perspective, he’s excited about this opportunity — but he isn’t overstepping his role. He’s grateful to be in this position.
“Of course, I’m ready to prove everybody wrong, but I’m just trying to play my spot, fill my spot on the team,” Ross acknowledged. “Just see what I can do over this summer.”
“With what I had going on, you never knew if I was going to be out here period. So it felt real good.”