After trading away Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins, the Kansas City Chiefs re-stocked the receiver room by signing JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. But the Chiefs still needed to add at least one young playmaker on a rookie deal to ensure the offense had a long-term plan at wideout that wasn’t going to break the bank.
While the Chiefs did add Western Michigan receiver Skyy Moore to their roster with a 2022 second-round pick, there is another pass-catcher they added via the undrafted rookie pool who has a ton of upside despite not being drafted.
Clemson wide receiver Justyn Ross was a playmaker during his first two seasons with the Tigers. During the 2018 and 2019 seasons, he accumulated 1,865 receiving yards on 112 catches — 16.6 yards per catch — and 17 touchdowns, according to Sports Reference.
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But that production came to a screeching halt due to a line of injuries.
Ross would be diagnosed with a congenital fusion in his spine in the spring of 2020, which had doctors telling him he would never play football again, per Adam Teicher of ESPN. The Clemson pass-catcher would undergo surgery that year and sat out the 2020 season.
During the 2021 season, which was his final year of collegiate football, Ross returned to football and caught 46 passes for 514 yards and 3 touchdowns. But a stress fracture in his foot hampered his play the entire season.
With injuries plaguing him for the backend of his time at Clemson, Ross’s draft stock plummeted in 2022. Instead of being one of the top prospects in the draft, he went undrafted. The talent is there, but it’s followed by a list of injury concerns, which deterred any NFL team from using a draft pick on Ross.
The injuries weren’t enough to keep Ross out of the NFL entirely, however, which is evident in Kansas City signing him. While Ross still has a long way to go before he makes an impact in the NFL, one ESPN analyst has a bold prediction for the Clemson product that Chiefs fans will want to hear.
Clay Predicts Ross Will Make 53-Man Roster
ESPN fantasy football analyst Mike Clay’s “best bold prediction” for this year’s NFL rookie class is that Ross will make Kansas City’s 53-man roster.
“Prior to his neck/spine surgery in 2020, Ross posted 46-1,000-9 and 66-865-8 receiving lines and was one of the top receivers in the nation,” Clay wrote on May 13. “In fact, his career 3.0 yards per route run was best in this year’s rookie class. Ross now finds himself in an elite offense but also one in need of help at wideout. The Clemson product has a real shot to make the cut.”
With many talented veterans in the Kansas City’s wide receiver room that will be competing for a roster spot this summer, coupled with Moore — who is locked into a spot heading into the 2022 regular season — making the team will be an uphill battle for Ross. However, if he can remain healthy and consistently display his talent, it’s very possible Ross makes the Chiefs’ 53-man roster next season.
Miller Predicts Moore Leads Chiefs in Yardage
Along with Clay’s bold prediction, ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller predicted that Moore will lead the Chiefs in receiving yards during his rookie season.
“Tight end Travis Kelce is still the No. 1 threat and will lead the team in catches and touchdowns, but Moore will become a favorite target for quarterback Patrick Mahomes in the underneath passing game and on vertical stretch plays once coverage breaks down,” Miller wrote.
With Kelce turning 33 this fall and Hill no longer in the picture, Moore could be the next man up as Mahomes’ go-to target in the passing game. Kansas City’s tendency to strongly favor the passing game coupled with Moore’s ability to consistently create separation and be reliable underneath means the rookie receiver could hit the ground running in Kansas City.
Time will ultimately tell how these bold predictions shape out for the Chiefs’ rookie pass-catchers.