John Ross, WR, Washington
Weight: 188 lbs.
40-yard dash: 4.22 seconds
Vertical jump: 37.0 inches
Broad jump: 133.0 inches
2016: 81 REC, 1,150 YDS, 14.2 AVG, 17 TD
2014: 17 REC, 371 YDS, 21.8 AVG, 4 TD
2013: 16 REC, 208 YDS, 13.0 AVG, 1 TD
Is it any coincidence the Eagles offense has become increasingly more impotent with each season since the departure of DeSean Jackson? Not entirely. Speed kills, so getting rid of one the most dangerous deep threats in the NFL had repercussions in every phase and at every level of the field, as defenses began creeping closer and closer to the line of scrimmage.
The Eagles attempted to solve the problem in free agency by signing Torrey Smith, also among the game's most adept at stretching the field. Still, Smith might be a short-term solution, whereas John Ross would represent a permanent fix.
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Speed certainly isn't an issue. Ross set the all-time record for the fastest 40-yard dash in NFL Scouting Combine history in February, and – no exaggeration – he did it while cramping up, too. Before the Pac-12 Player of the Year ever catches a pass as a professional, defensive backs know they have to leave a cushion, or they're going to get burned.
Respect for speed tends to open up a lot of real estate for the rest of the offense to operate. The Eagles had that luxury for five seasons with Jackson in Andy Reid's west coast offense, and could reap the benefits once again in Doug Pederson's version of the scheme with Ross, who draws many parallels to the three-time Pro Bowl selection.
Ross is a little bit bigger and a little bit faster than Jackson. Ross' production during his senior season exceeded any of Jackson's college campaigns as well, perhaps offering some hope he'll be a more consistent, well-rounded performer at the next level.
Not unlike Jackson, Ross is a dangerous returnman as well, although he did his damage on kickoffs, taking four back for touchdowns. Since that aspect of the game has been marginalized in the NFL, it's unclear how much value the Eagles would get from that, although there's no reason he couldn't learn to return punts as well.
Perhaps the greatest concern regarding Ross are all the injuries he endured at Washington. He had two meniscus tears repaired after the 2014 season, missed 2015 with a torn ACL, and recently underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum. The Eagles had Ross to the NovaCare Complex for a visit prior to the operation, so while doctors were able to check out his knees, they couldn't have given him a clean bill of health on his shoulder.
Ross is also similar to Jackson from the standpoint that there would be concerns about his health from a sheer size standpoint. Can their bodies withstand the punishment on NFL football? Jackson has largely been fortunate, but was in good shape coming out of Cal. Ross is already experiencing a lot of issues, which is cause for concern.
Size can also be a limiting factor on the field. How will Ross fare is jammed at the line of scrimmage, has to make a contested catch or – heaven forbid – is asked to run into traffic? These are areas where he doesn't have a ton of experience, making his skill set difficult to expand at the next level.
We know Ross can run, and there's almost always a place for that in the NFL. Of course, Smith can run, too, in addition to being a bit bigger of a target. While the 28-year-old is coming off a quiet couple of seasons in San Francisco, he put up big numbers and helped the Ravens win a Super Bowl at his previous stop. Smith is also under contract through 2019, which helps.
That's not to say the Eagles shouldn't draft Ross because they have Smith, who could just as easily be off of the roster next year, too. Ross is 22 with the potential to be an elite deep threat for the next decade.
Then again, the question is will Ross last that long, and maybe more importantly, can he be more than just a guy who runs fly routes? Jackson was, but we can all agree, as fast as he is, his ability is about more than simply speed.