Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Justyn Ross has one of the highest ceilings you’ll find from the 2022 class of NFL rookies. But there’s a reason why he went undrafted.
Ross was a playmaker during his first two seasons at Clemson. 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.
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.
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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. But the injuries weren’t enough to keep Ross out of the NFL entirely, which is evident by him being on Kansas City’s 90-man roster.
While Ross has everything to prove as he enters the next chapter of his football career, his college football coach is being vocal — and bold — about what he believes Ross can do at the NFL level.
Swinney Makes Bold Statement About Ross
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney was asked about Ross, whom he coached throughout his collegiate career, during a Prowl and Growl event in Columbia, South Carolina.
“I mean he’s Justyn Ross,” Swinney said, via Matt Connolly of Clemson Sports. “There’s no questions about Justyn Ross when it comes to playing football. But there’s obvious questions when it comes to, ‘OK, where is he health wise?’ He broke his foot. Obviously he missed all that time with surgical procedures in his neck and back area. He’ll do just fine. If the good lord keeps him healthy, football will come easy for him.”
Swinney then went as far as to say Ross could eventually be known as one of the greatest the NFL has ever seen among the undrafted, barring injury.
“He might be the greatest free agent ever if he stays healthy,” Swinney said.
Ross Addresses Questions About His Health
During his press conference at Kansas City’s rookie minicamp on May 8, Ross, who was recovering during the pre-draft process from his fractured foot, was asked how close he feels he is to being fully healthy.
“I feel good,” Ross said.
If Ross can stay healthy, then the sky is the limit for someone that as a freshman at Clemson was one of the most productive receivers on a team that had Tee Higgins, Hunter Renfrow, and Amari Rodgers. That’s why Ross was considered the biggest steal among the undrafted rookies in 2022 by Bleacher Report.
For Kansas City, signing Ross made all the sense in the world. Ross can compete for a spot on the roster, and will do so without having any draft capital/a large contract attached to him. That in hand makes him easy to cut ties with if injuries start to appear again or if he just doesn’t perform to expectation. However, if Ross plays to his full potential, then the Chiefs have found themselves a diamond in the rough.
“It felt good, man,” Ross said of his feelings of being on the field for rookie minicamp in Kansas City. “Like you said, with what I had going on [with my injuries], you never knew if I was gonna be able to be out here at all, period. So it felt real good.”