2022 NFL Draft: Justyn Ross Scouting Report

Justyn Ross against the Alabama Crimson Tide as a ball-carrier

Justyn Ross NFL Draft Overview

Position: Wide Receiver
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 205 lbs.
School: Clemson University

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Justyn Ross 2022 NFL Draft Profile

Justyn Ross played for the Clemson Tigers for a total of three seasons between 2018 and 2021, having missed 2020 due to injury. In 38 games over three years at Clemson, he accrued 158 receptions for 2,379 yards and 20 touchdowns. Ross played two seasons with future Heisman Trophy winner and first-overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft Trevor Lawrence., helping Lawrence produce his two best collegiate campaigns. As a true freshman in 2018, Ross was the top ACC receiver in yards per reception, second in receiving touchdowns, and fifth in receiving yards. He was the fifth receiver in all of college football in terms of receiving yards per reception that season. In 2019, he was eighth in the ACC for receptions and eighth for touchdowns.
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Before missing the 2020 season, Ross posted 112 receptions for 1,865 yards and 17 touchdowns. Paired with Lawrence, the receiver appeared poised to follow in the footsteps of Clemson alumni receivers like DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins. However, after a congenital spine fusion surgery in 2020, it was unclear whether or not Ross would ever play competitive football again. Ross, though, remained undeterred.

Ross successfully returned to play in 10 games as a redshirt junior in 2021. He posted 46 receptions for 514 yards and 3 touchdowns, figures that pale in comparison to his 46-catch season in 2018. Despite a foot surgery late in 2021, Ross managed to display other traits receiver-needy teams might appreciate. He illustrated his versatility within formations by lining up in the slot for 54.2 percent of his snaps, wide for 45.1 percent of snaps, and in-line for 0.8 percent. At 6’4” and barely over 200 pounds, Ross was an average jump-ball receiver, only catching six of 12 contested targets. That said, he was only credited with one drop in 2021, which is a terrific sign after an injury as severe as his. The most impressive statistics he earned in 2021, however, were his nine forced missed tackles and an average depth of target of 10.9 yards.

Strengths

  • Strong hands with good speed and route-running proficiency;
  • Physical as a ball-carrier and blocker;
  • Good body control for his size;
  • Large catch radius and attacks the ball at the point;
  • Can play virtually any receiver role.

Weaknesses

  • Average releases;
  • Limited route tree;
  • Needs to improve contact balance, command of pad level, and functional strength;
  • Average on contested targets despite size;
  • Still hasn’t returned to form post-injury.

NFL Comparison: Mike Williams, Tim Patrick

Teams With Need at the Position: Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Commanders

Projection: Third-to-Fifth Round

Bottom Line on Justyn Ross

Justyn Ross is, at this point, an incredibly talented, but raw receiver. His size is excellent, as is his speed relative to his frame. His route-running, while limited in terms of the route tree, is surprisingly adept for a man of his dimensions. While he did not participate in most combine tests, he ran what many considered a disappointing 4.63 40-yard dash at his pro day. His vertical was 31.5 inches, which helps facilitate his elite catch radius. If he can improve his releases and expand his route tree, he could prove a steal in a mid-to-late round.

Some considered his pro-day performance underwhelming. As such, the coaching staff of the team to draft him may have their work cut out for them. Nonetheless, his incredible raw talent can easily be coached into true skill by the right team. Furthermore, his injury history is almost invariably of great concern to teams looking for a receiver in the draft. If a team can adequately develop his athleticism into the necessary traits for a professional receiver, the sky’s the limit. He projects best as a big slot receiver similar to a tight end who is more of a pass-catcher than an in-line blocker.

Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images