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.
Clemson WR Justyn Ross is signing with the #Chiefs to their 90-man roster, per source.— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) May 2, 2022
Ross led the ACC in receiving as a freshman in 2018, ranked fifth nationally with 21.7 YPC and was second in receiving touchdowns. He also stands 6-3, 210 pounds. High quality addition for
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.
a lot of evaluation of Justyn Ross in 2021 has to come on plays where he's not even targeted.— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) April 12, 2022
But here you can see the twitch in his release vs. press and his body control to snatch this back shoulder throw. He's such a fluid athlete in a 6'4" frame. pic.twitter.com/waa2piKALL
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.
Justyn Ross in the 2019 CFB Championship. Bottom of the screen on the outside vs Kristian Fulton.— Kristian Gumminger (@kgumminger) May 3, 2022
Simple post out. Drives towards the hip of Fulton before selling the post. Then he sinks his hips in before breaking towards the sideline. Great separation from route running. pic.twitter.com/OIrZbFrBf0
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.
Ross with the skip release to catch the DB flat footed. Releases outside then swipes the DBs hand away at the wrist— Kristian Gumminger (@kgumminger) May 3, 2022
Ball is a little under thrown and forces Ross to adjust mid-air. High points away from his body with strong hands and then tucks it before the DB can rip it away pic.twitter.com/UcxZIpwHzF
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.