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Diamond in the rough? Justyn Ross will make his case to be Chiefs' new receiver

Let’s take a look at new undrafted free agent Justyn Ross who will work to earn his spot on the Chiefs.

Georgia Tech v Clemson Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs’ 2022 draft class will be broken down into separate profiles here over the next few weeks. But let’s take the time to look a little deeper at one of the more intriguing prospects that signed as an undrafted free agent, wide receiver from Clemson, Justyn Ross.

Tale of the tape

Ross is a high four-star recruit out of Phenix City, Alabama. He was ranked 45th nationally and the seventh-ranked wide receiver in the 2018 class. After a successful first two seasons at Clemson, Ross had to sit out his junior year with a neck injury. Ross came back in 2021 but had a down year by his standards.

Ross burst on the scene in his freshman year playing alongside Trevor Lawrence and Tee Higgins. As a freshman, he led the team in receiving yards while also never starting a single game.

Here’s the highlight reel:

Ross is listed at 6 feet 4, which is undoubtedly a selling point. He has good body control along the sideline and uses his long catch radius to catch the ball away from his body. He can adjust in the air to give himself a better window for the ball to arrive.

His route running past the line of scrimmage is advanced. He has a good feel for using his stems to gain leverage and knows when he reaches proper depth. Ross can sink in and get out of his breaks like a smaller receiver. He keeps his feet underneath him when he sinks and doesn’t waste any steps flipping his hips and breaking towards the route.

The play below showcases his agility and the smoothness of his routes as he still gives the quarterback a big target on the outside.

Because Ross isn’t a speed demon or explosive, he relies on the suddenness of his route running by varying the speed of his stems as well as being sharp in and out of his breaks. He uses head fakes to sell his double moves well.

He has a good feel for the zone when a play breaks down. There are flashes in contested-catch scenarios when he can simply use his long arms to fend off defenders while high pointing the ball.

His athletic profile does lack speed, which makes it unlikely that he will ever be a competent deep threat. He lacks physicality at the line of scrimmage. He has a limited release package that doesn’t gain him separation at the start of his routes. He’s limited after the catch because of his burst and frame.

Ross has had some serious medical concerns, and that may have zapped him of that explosiveness and quickness that he had in his first few years in Clemson. This is the primary reason he wasn’t drafted.

Ross missed the entire 2020 season after discovering a congenital fusion condition in his neck and spine that required surgery. Then he missed additional time in 2021 after a stress fracture in his left foot ended his season early.

The bottom line

This is a no-risk, high-reward opportunity for him and the Chiefs.

Evaluators projected that he would be a Day 3 value if drafted, and it ended up costing the Chiefs no draft capital to bring him into the building. If he can take advantage of the opportunity and regain some of that early form, this is going to be an incredible steal.

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