Justyn Ross is easily the most intriguing undrafted free agent from this year’s Chiefs draft class. Before spinal fusion surgery in 2020 to repair a congenital fusion in his spine, Ross was almost a lock for the first round. According to Ross’s former coach Dabo Swinney, only four NFL teams had cleared Justyn Ross for contact. This clears up why Ross went undrafted. Ross also played through a broken foot during his final season at Clemson before opting for surgery.
Overcoming these obstacles wasn’t easy. The next step for Ross will be making the team’s 53-man roster. That won’t be easy either, as he figures to face stiff competition. If healthy, he should easily make the roster, but should he fail to impress early for Kansas City, the team may opt for a player who is a contributor on special teams.
Assuming 100% health next year, regaining his 2018 form, where does he fit into the 2022 game-plan? How can he make an impact on offense?
Ross Finally Brings A True “X-Receiver” For The Chiefs
Justyn Ross isn’t the fastest receiver in the world, but he doesn’t have to be. While the offense has thrived off of speed in the Tyreek Hill era, Justyn Ross brings a new flavor to the offense. Ross is 6’4, and while he could gain some physicality to his game, he has an extremely large catch radius and can turn a 50-50 ball into an 80-20 situation.
Ross also has quick feet for his size, and smooth route running as well. Players like Davante Adams and Michael Thomas boast similar skillsets, but Ross has a long way to go before being compared to players of that caliber. Regardless, the potential is there. Check out this clip from Rookie Mini-Camp:
Ross can provide much of what the Chiefs have missed since the departure of Sammy Watkins. Just like with Watkins however, there will always be injury concerns surrounding Ross. While it’s unlikely he gets a real chance at starting this season, Ross could easily develop into a true X” receiver.
Chiefs Add Another Potential Red Zone Threat In Ross
The best way Justyn Ross can make an instant impact in 2022 is as a red-zone threat. The Chiefs have struggled in recent years inside the red zone. This may be due to a lack of size, but that shouldn’t be an issue for the Chiefs anymore.
Between Juju Smith-Schuster, Travis Kelce, Marquez Valdez-Scantling, and Ross, the Chiefs have four receiving threats who are at least 6’2. Mahomes may need to start working on his back shoulder throws. There are few if any teams who will be able to match up with the pure size of the Chiefs’ offense in the red zone next season.
This is where Ross can shine. The Chiefs can ease Ross into the rest of the offense, but immediately use him as a go-to guy inside the 20. No complex routes to memorize, and no need to rush his development. Just match up one-on-one and let Mahomes do the rest.
Ross Provides The Chiefs With Valuable Depth On Offense
It’s possible Ross makes the roster and doesn’t play much at all. That’s fine. If the Chiefs can manage to sneak Ross on the practice squad for a year to develop him then that may be the best option, but if they can’t then there’s no reason not to keep him on the main roster just as a depth piece.
Injuries are bound to happen, so the more depth you have the better. Even if he isn’t ready to play from day one, he may be ready just when the Chiefs need him. We saw firsthand last season what a lack of depth at wide receiver looks like, so having Justyn Ross as the sixth-best receiver on the roster is far from a bad thing.
Perhaps the best thing about the Chiefs’ roster currently is that Ross shouldn’t be expected to play in 2022. If he does then great, but if he doesn’t then that’s also fine. Ross is already under enough stress as is. Giving him a year to develop may be the best thing for all sides. We should all temper our expectations for now, and just hope that Justyn Ross has a long and healthy career.
What are your expectations for UDFA Justyn Ross in a Chiefs uniform? Leave a comment below to join the discussion!
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