Former 1st-Round Bust ‘Looked Great’ at Chiefs OTAs: Report

Getty Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross III.

The first set of 2023 organized team activities for the Kansas City Chiefs took place from May 22 to May 24.

Those OTAs marked the first opportunity for Chiefs media to see some of the team’s newer players integrate with the tenured ones. And according to several media members in attendance, one of the newer playmakers on offense stood out amongst the others.

“More notes in a little bit but there’s a chance #Chiefs fans are excited about the wrong Ross,” Pete Sweeney of Arrowhead Pride wrote on May 24.

What Sweeney is referencing is the hype surrounding second-year wideout Justyn Ross. He’s suggesting that instead, folks should be excited about 27-year-old receiver, John Ross III.

“And John Ross looked great too,” Harold R. Kuntz of Fox 4 in Kansas City wrote on May 24 as a follow-up to what he referred to as his “obligatory” Justyn Ross tweet, which was a video of Justyn at OTAs.

PJ Green of Fox 4 in Kansas City also shared his notes from Day 3 of OTAs, which included his thoughts on Ross. “John Ross.. still a first round talent,” he wrote.

John Ross a Speedy Project for Chiefs

John Ross, 27, first turned heads in the NFL when he ran a 4.22 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2017, which is still the fastest time recorded at the Combine since 1999 (when electronic timing was introduced). His efforts at the Combine paired with a very strong college resume at Washington led to Ross being drafted ninth overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in April of that year. That pick was right before the Chiefs selected quarterback Patrick Mahomes tenth overall.

Unfortunately, Ross’ abilities didn’t translate well to the NFL. In four seasons with the Bengals, Ross registered 51 receptions on 123 targets for 733 yards and 10 touchdowns in 27 total games played according to Pro Football Reference.

Ross’ elite speed wasn’t enough to earn him a second contract with Cincinnati either, let alone getting his fifth-year option picked up by the team.

In 2021, Ross signed with the New York Giants. In the played 10 regular season games for the Giants during the 2021 season, Ross caught 11 passes on 20 targets for 224 yards and 1 touchdown. His time in New York lasted only one season, however, as Ross became a free agent in 2022 and was not re-signed by the Giants.

On January 9, the Chiefs signed Ross to a Reserve/Future contract, which put him to work with the team this offseason with the hopes of staying in Kansas City come the 2023 regular season.

With that being said — Ross has a lot to prove and many players to fend off in his journey toward the Chiefs’ 53-player roster.

Chiefs Have Lots of Bodies in Receiver Room

Including John Ross III, Kansas City’s receiver room is 13 deep at the moment: Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kadarius Toney, Skyy Moore, Rashee Rice, Richie James, Justin Watson, Justyn Ross, Jerrion Ealy, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Cornell Powell, Nikko Remigio, and Ty Fryfogle.

MVS, Toney, Moore, and Rice are locks to make Kansas City’s regular season roster in 2023. That leaves one, maybe two, roster spots available for the remainder of the receivers, which is a total of nine players.

Based on the talent competing for those spots and his inability thus far to produce consistently at the NFL level, John Ross III has long odds to stick with the defending Super Bowl champions this summer.

Let’s also not forget that the players were wearing helmets but no pads during OTAs, so Ross was bound to stand out given his elite speed.

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