John Ellis Ross III was born in Long Beach, California and will be playing at his age-24 season in 2020. He played wide receiver and cornerback in high school, also running track. Regarded as a four-star recruit, he played his college ball at the University of Washington. Ross played three years in total, but missed what would have been his junior year after tearing his ACL during a spring practice. Ross then returned and had a monster season, playing in all 13 games, catching 81 passes for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Ross actually suffered a significant shoulder injury that required surgery after his final college season but held off on the surgery until after the NFL Scouting Combine finished. He was considered one of the best wide receivers in the draft with elite speed. Measuring 5’10¾”, weighing 188 pounds, Ross ran an unbelievable 4.22 second 40-yard dash, beating Chris Johnson’s 4.24 second record time.
Ross was selected the 9th overall pick but the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2017 NFL Draft, actually the 3rd wide receiver drafted after Corey Davis and Mike Williams. His rookie season did not go according to plan as he only played in three games after initially suffering a knee injury, and then a season-ending shoulder injury.
In 2018 Ross played in 13 games catching only 21 passes for 210 yards but 7 touchdowns. Then in 2019 Ross only played in 8 games, catching 28 passes for 506 yards and 3 touchdowns but suffered a clavicle fracture in the middle of the season. In May 2020 the Bengals actually declined Ross’ fifth year option, which will make him a free agent following the 2020 season. This will truly be a make or break season for him.
It’s obvious that injuries have plagued Ross‘ career. Let’s review them now. Although he is only 24 years old, Ross has had several significant injuries already. In 2014 during his sophomore season at Washington he suffered a meniscal tear in the right knee which needed to be surgically addressed. Then in 2015 he suffered an ACL tear in his left knee. Hopefully this was an isolated ACL tear, but any additional damage is not known.
So now he’s got 2 potentially significant knee injuries, one in each knee, and then he suffered a serious shoulder injury all before finishing college. Despite suffering this injury he still put up impressive numbers that season. I’m surprised the Bengals’ medical team was more concerned with spending that much draft capital on a player who had already sustained 3 significant injuries in such a short period of time. I guess speed can be mesmerizing.
During his rookie NFL season Ross suffered a minor knee injury that caused him to miss a couple weeks, likely a knee sprain/minor meniscal tear, and then in December he reinjured his shoulder which caused him to undergo season-ending surgery for a torn labrum. Rough rookie season to say the least.
In 2018, Ross suffered a groin injury that caused him to miss three games throughout the season. Groin injuries are normally quite annoying, but especially in speedsters like Ross. In Week 4 of the 2019 season Ross suffered another significant shoulder injury. This time it was to his right shoulder, breaking his collarbone/clavicle. It’s just one injury after another for Ross.
If there is good news, it’s that these traditionally heal really well, and depending on the location of the fracture sometimes don’t even require surgery. Usually these heal in about 4 to 8 weeks and he was able to return about eight weeks later. Ross ended up injuring his foot in his first game back but did not miss any time, and finished the season without any further injuries.
John Ross looked much improved last season. He was only involved in eight games and caught 28 balls with an 18.1 yards per catch and 9-yards per target. Ross is still among the fastest wide receivers to ever play the game and is explosive while being athletic. His 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine is a sight to behold. It showed his speed, and he ended limping off the track (he injured his calf) — quintessential Ross.
In his first two weeks in 2019, Ross flashed his monster upside, posting stat lines of 7-158-2 and 4-112-1. The result was a pair of top-10 fantasy weeks, but just one top-50 performance in the next six outings.
Despite fantastic pedigree as the former #9 pick overall, Ross has been unable to stay healthy enough to demonstrate his monster potential. He is still likely as fast as ever, as he has predominantly suffered upper extremity/shoulder injuries the past couple of years.
2020 will be a make or break season for Ross, as the Bengals drafted Tee Higgins in the second round of the 2020 Draft. He now faces significant competition in a stacked Bengals receiving core, at least athletically speaking. With A.J. Green’s return, he joins Tyler Boyd, Auden Tate, Tee Higgins, and Alex Erickson. Add in rookie quarterback Joe burrow slinging the rock, and potential break-out running back Joe Mixon in the backfield, the Bengals offense has the potential to be quite scary in 2020 if everyone can stay healthy and everything clicks just right.
Returning to the Zac Taylor RPO offense is Tyler Boyd, Alex Erickson, and Auden Tate. Joe Mixon also returns and should have a more expansive role in the passing game. The most significant addition to the offense is the first-round pick in Joe Burrow.
Burrow will take over for the walking stiff in Andy Dalton. Burrow has the athletic ability to move around the pocket and take off if he is under pressure. Burrow’s mobility should make time for Ross to get downfield and free from defenders.
In 2019 the Bengals offense overall was unsuccessful. Cincinnati scored 279 points (30th), and 5,169 total yards (26th). They attempted 616 passes (6th), but the yards (3652) and touchdowns (18) show an inefficient offensive performance. The Bengals finished 19th in yards and 28th in scores. With Burrow and a strong, wide receiver core, this should rise.
The offensive line for Cincinnati will once again be on the lower end. Trey Hopkins, at center, is the star of the group and had a breakout season. The Bengals gave him a contract extension. Jonah Williams returned at left tackle and was out the entire season with a shoulder injury in his rookie season. He was a high first-round selection and the talent to make a difference. Bobby Hart will be at right tackle but will have competition from Fred Johnson and Hakeem Adeniji - a sixth-round choice from Kansas. Cincinnati utilizes a gap-power offense.
Sports Injury Predictor projects that Ross has a 62% chance of injury in 2020, one of the highest scores for all wide receivers. This translates to missing 3.3 games in 2020. Unfortunately this is not completely unexpected, as Ross has missed at least three games in all three of his NFL seasons, only playing in 24 of a possible 48 games, literally missing half of the games he could have played in due to injury.
My injury risk score for him is an 8 out of 10.
On this day (July 7), Ross has an ADP of WR77 and an overall of 244. Mike feels that at this draft point, he has no value or a late-round dart throw. With Green returning, Higgins eating volume as a rookie and pushing Ross, and the rest of crew, such as Boyd, Erickson, and Tate there is little breathing room. The Bengals didn’t hitch their wagon to him either, as they chose not to offer him a contract. Plus injuries, injuries, injuries. Leave him on the waiver wire.
I (Dr. Morse) on the other hand feel that since you can likely get him in the last round of your draft, he has the talent, pedigree, and a young gunslinger at QB, Ross could potentially be the ultimate sleeper pick in 2020. Obviously all of that depends on whether or not he can stay healthy. Low-risk, high-reward.
Injury Risk: High. 8/10.
|Projected Missed||Probability of injury per game ?||Probablity of injury in the season ?|
|Sep 30, 2019||Shoulder A/C Joint Sprain||Ross suffered a shoulder injury in Monday's game against the Steelers|
|Oct 21, 2018||Inguinal Groin Strain Grade 2||Ross re-injured his groin and missed 1 more game.|
|Sep 30, 2018||Inguinal Groin Strain Grade 2||Ross missed 2 games with a groin injury.|
|Dec 6, 2017||Shoulder Labrum Tear||Ross finally revealed a torn labrum in his left shoulder and landed on IR following Week 13. He had surgery in December.|
|Sep 30, 2016||Shoulder Labrum Tear||Ross aggravated the injury on December 31, 2016, per his agent.|
|Apr 17, 2015||Knee ACL Tear Grade 3|
|Apr 17, 2015||Knee Meniscus Tear||Ross re-injured the right knee in which he had previously had 2 meniscus tears repaired.|
|Sep 13, 2014||Knee Meniscus Tear||Ross had January surgery to repair 2 meniscus tears in his right knee. The injury cost him just 1 game.|