The Seattle Seahawks have several needs to fill this off-season. Most of the focus will be on edge rushers and secondary help, rightfully so, but wide receiver can’t be overlooked.
It was revealed a few days ago that the Cincinnati Bengals are open to trading their first-round pick from 2017, wide receiver John Ross. The former University of Washington receiver has struggled as a pro, but could he make sense for the Seahawks?
Now anybody who has paid attention to the Huskies for the past 10 years knows all about John Ross. After an underwhelming start at UW, including an ACL injury that wiped out his entire 2015 season, Ross returned to action in 2016 and had arguably the greatest season for a wide receiver in school history.
In 14 games, Ross caught 81 passes for 1150 yards and 17 touchdowns, helping the Huskies to their first trip to the College Football Playoffs. Of course, Ross later set the NFL Combine record for the 40-yard dash, clocking in at an amazing 4.22.
All of these factors led to the Bengals selecting him at #9 overall and since then, Ross has been disappointing, to say the least. His rookie season was an absolute waste as he appeared in only 3 games, netting just 2 targets with no catches.
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2018 was better but still disappointing. Ross only managed to reel in 21 passes (on 58 targets) for 210 yards. He did, however, haul in 7 touchdowns. It is an absurd TD/catch ratio, and points to the upside the Bengals saw when they selected him 9th overall.
With these small sample sizes, it is tough to really gain anything useful regarding Ross’ abilities in the NFL. For that, you actually have to watch him play. And since there are only 21 catches to pick from, there isn’t a lot of tape available on him. But let’s highlight a few plays.
Perhaps one of the laziest pieces of analysis comes from a stereotype. Fast receivers have to be short and slight, right? I mean, think about DeSean Jackson at 5’8″, 165 lbs. In Ross’ case, size is not an issue. He checks in at 5’11, 195 lbs. For comparison’s sake, Doug Baldwin is 5’10”, 190 lbs and Tyler Lockett is 5’10”, 180 lbs. So Ross isn’t small.
Seahawks can definitely use Ross’ skills
And like Baldwin, Ross is actually very good at using his body to win on the tightly contested ball. Take a look at this catch against the Baltimore Ravens CB Marlon Humphreys. A true 50/50 pass that Ross wins despite being covered and having to deal with the sideline. This isn’t an easy catch. Dalton threw a good ball, but look at the body control and strength from Ross to keep possession of the ball and stay in bounds.
Next is perhaps the best play of Ross’ career (click here). It shows a little bit of everything that Ross has to offer: deep speed, agility, and playmaking. Ross beats Vontae Davis with a simple stutter step and fights through a defensive holding call and blows by the safety coming over to help.
Dalton throws a good ball and the play looks like a good chunk play to set up the Bengals inside the 10-yard line. Then, Ross gets out of a tackle, cuts to his left, slams on the brakes and scoots into the endzone. Ross showed everything he had to offer in one play, a skill set we know works well in Seattle.
There are two things the Seahawks love to take chances on: upside and speed. The faster the better. Ross is one of the fastest players in the NFL who just became available with at least two years of team control.
Now, the cost will be the biggest issue. The Seahawks only have four draft picks this year, a first, third, fourth, and fifth. The Bengals will almost certainly be looking for a four but could settle on a five. However, with the many needs of the Seahawks and other options in free agency who won’t cost a draft pick, a trade could be difficult to find.
Perhaps the Seahawks can offer a four for Ross and a five or six. Or maybe there is a player for player swap to be had. 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock Huard floated the idea of Ethan Pocic for Ross. Like any trade in the NFL, this is unlikely to happen. But it could make a lot of sense for the Seahawks if the price isn’t obtuse.
After all, the Seahawks covet speed. They want to be faster than you. Adding John Ross certainly helps achieve that goal.