Dynasty Prospect Scouting Report: Justyn Ross
Justyn Ross, WR, Clemson
Pro Day Results:
Ross only participated in the bench press at the Combine after undergoing surgery to address a stress fracture in his foot last November. He worked out at Clemson's Pro Day on March 17.
40-yard dash: 4.63 seconds (13th percentile)
Vertical: 31.5” (9th)
Broad: 9’8” (20th)
Short shuttle: DNP
Ross was a big-time recruit coming out of Central High School in Alabama. He was named first-team all-state and a finalist for Mr. Football as a senior, earning a 4-star grade from most scouting services. ESPN, Rivals and 247Sports all had Ross as a top 15 WR in the 2018 class. He made a surprising decision to turn down Alabama’s scholarship offer and instead head to Clemson.
Ross immediately delivered on the hype. As a true freshman, he led a team that also included WRs Tee Higgins, Hunter Renfrow and Amari Rodgers in receiving yards. His 9 TDs ranked 2nd to only Higgins’ 12. Ross’ 21.7 yards per catch set a Clemson record (min. 20 catches).
Ross ranked 2nd in Pro Football Focus’ 2018 receiving grades among 286 WRs with 50+ targets. Some of the names just behind him on that list: Jaylen Waddle, Rondale Moore, Jerry Jeudy, Higgins and Marquise Brown. Ross’ 4.98 yards per route run led all 286 of those WRs.
His 2019 wasn’t quite as impressive. Higgins easily led the Tigers with 1,167 receiving yards and 13 TDs. But Ross finished 2nd in both categories and led the team in catches. His market shares: 20.2% of the receptions, 20.0% of the receiving yards and 20.0% of the receiving scores. Not huge -- but remember that Ross was competing with NFLers Higgins, Rodgers and Travis Etienne.
Ross' PFF receiving grade took a significant step back from 2018 but still ranked a respectable 46th among 290 qualifiers. He ranked 52nd among those 290 WRs with 2.50 yards per route run.
His career took a major detour in the spring of 2020. Ross felt a tingling sensation in his back after taking a hit during a March practice. A trip to the doctor revealed a bulging disc and congenital fusion condition in his neck and spine. Ross had surgery in June and missed the 2020 season.
There were initially concerns that the back issue would end Ross’ football career. But he was medically cleared for contact in August 2021.
Ross ran into more health issues this past season, though. He contracted COVID in August and lost 15 pounds. Ross was cleared in time for the season opener but suffered a stress fracture in his foot a short time later. He played through that injury for a few games but aggravated it in November. Ross had surgery and missed the final 3 games of the season.
Despite those issues, Ross still led a Clemson passing game that struggled without QB Trevor Lawrence in catches, receiving yards and receiving scores. In his 10 games, he accounted for 24.7% of the Tigers’ receptions, 25.8% of the yards and 30% of the TDs.
Ross kicked into the slot for 51% of his snaps in 2021 after playing mostly on the outside in 2018 and 2019. He was a bit more effective on the outside, averaging 2.11 yards per route run vs. 2.03 from the slot.
Courtesy of FF Astronauts
Games watched - Alabama (2018 National Championship), Texas A&M (2019), Georgia
Let’s start with the negative: You’re not going to find much separation on Ross’ tape. He tends to throttle down into his breaks and doesn’t have much burst out of them.
Ross was still able to produce at the college level, though, because of his size and ball skills. He does a nice job using his big frame to shield defenders from the ball.
Ross is clearly comfortable in traffic. He has a big catch radius, sticky hands and good timing on jump balls.
Ross is straight-linish after the catch; he’s not going to make many guys miss. But he did show some nice build-up speed on his freshman tape. I think he was at least a bit faster than his 4.63-second 40 time at that point of his career.
Ross is the trickiest evaluation in this year’s WR class. It starts with the medical. We’ve seen guys struggle returning from stress fractures in their feet, so that’s worth monitoring. But the back injury is obviously the big concern.
"Justyn has a condition that is very rare, and to my knowledge, there is no precedent of another high-level American football player with this condition playing football," said Dr. David Okonkwo, who performed Ross’s surgery. "So we were paving new road as we went through the process."
If Ross is able to stay healthy, the question then becomes whether he can rediscover that freshman- or even sophomore-year form. If he can, he has a chance to emerge as a starting outside receiver in the NFL – although he’ll need a QB willing to throw him contested balls.
I’m curious to see what kind of draft capital Ross gets. If he comes off the board on Day 2, he’ll be an intriguing sleeper in dynasty rookie drafts.