INDIANAPOLIS – John Ross won the 40-yard dash.
Did he win a spot in the first round of the NFL Draft?
Ross, the big-play receiver from Washington, was given an official time of 4.22 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine on Saturday. That broke Arizona Cardinals running back Chris Johnson’s 9-year-old record of 4.24 seconds.
That might not mean a great deal for his draft stock, however, because scouts expected Ross to run fast, anyway.
“I always say, ‘Fast guys run fast. Slow guys run slow. It’s only a story when the opposite happens,’” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said on Saturday evening.
Ross ran fast at Washington. After sitting out the 2015 season with a torn ACL, Ross returned with 81 receptions for 1,150 yards (14.2 average) and 17 touchdowns in 2016. Ross was first-team all-conference and one of 10 semifinalist for the Biletnikoff, which goes to the nation’s top receiver.
He averaged 24.1 yards per kickoff return with a school-record four touchdowns in his three seasons, and had five career touchdowns of at least 90 yards. Based on that production, Mayock expected Ross to turn in a time of 4.30 seconds, so 4.22 – while record-setting fast, wasn’t a draft-board-shaking event.
That kind of speed could make him a consideration for the Green Bay Packers, who didn’t get much big-play production from high-priced veteran slot receiver Randall Cobb and no big-play production whatsoever from a woeful kickoff-return team.
Ross showed his overall athleticism throughout his workout, with a vertical jump of 37 inches and a broad jump of 11 feet, 1 inch.
However, NFL talent evaluators will have to grapple with Ross’s production and athleticism while also considering his injury history. At 5-foot-10 5/8, 188 pounds, he’s not exactly the biggest and strongest of receivers. Can he withstand the rigors of a 16-game season when he couldn’t get through the full Combine workout?
“The issue is going to be medical,” Mayock said. “He’s got a small frame. He’s had multiple knee operations. He’s going to get his shoulder done. Today, he cramped up and couldn’t finish. That’s going to be a theme for him going forward. There’s no doubting the speed or the talent. It didn’t help him because we all knew he was fast.”
Speaking on Thursday, two days before his historic workout, Ross said his knees were “stable” and he came out of the medical checks unscathed, “as I expected.” Ross said he’s having shoulder surgery on March 14. The recovery is four to six months, he confirmed. At the fast end of that timetable, he’d be ready for training camp. The other end of the timetable means he’d be sidelined to start the regular season, though he was confident that wouldn’t be an issue.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.