Dallas Cowboys

Speedy John Ross running toward first-round selection

Former Washington wide receiver John Ross has game-changing speed.
Former Washington wide receiver John Ross has game-changing speed. AP

John Ross is defined by a number – 4.22. That’s the fully automated time he ran at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, breaking Chris Johnson’s time of 4.24 in 2008.

But there is more to the University of Washington receiver than just his speed.

“His combination of athleticism, tempo and ball skills makes him a home-run threat as a receiver, ball carrier and kick returner,” CBS Sports draft analyst Dane Brugler said. “He’s one of the top-20 talents in the 2017 draft class.”

Ross set the school record for 50-yard-plus receptions in a season (six) and in a career (11). He also broke the Huskies’ record for kick return yardage (2,069) and return touchdowns (four).

“I want to be known for more than just being a deep threat,” Ross said. “I want to be more than a guy who can just return kicks. I want to be a more complete receiver for a team.”

Ross does have question marks. For starters, he lacks experience at the position. He started his college career on defense. Ross moved to offense his sophomore season, but Marcus Peters’ dismissal put him back on defense.

Ross missed the 2015 season with knee injuries, making 2016 his first full-time season at receiver. He made 81 receptions for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns.

He stands under 5-foot-11 and weighs 188, so even he admits he’s been asked about his physicality and his lack of experience against press coverage.

But Ross makes it clear he plays big enough for the NFL.

“You just look at the history,” Ross said. “We have a lot of great guys who set great examples like Brandin Cooks, DeSean [Jackson], T.Y. Hilton, Emmanuel Sanders. Those guys are not 6-foot tall, and they are very productive. Antonio Brown. He is now the highest-paid receiver in the league, and he is not 6-foot. Guys that came before us who have set a great example by [their success] should transfer to guys like me, guys who are not as tall.”

Overview

The position might not have a top-10 choice, but three receivers are expected to go in the first round. Overall, it’s a solid class with 8-10 receivers possible as second-day picks.

Cowboys’ needs

The Dallas Cowboys are heavily invested in their top three receivers. Dez Bryant begins the third year of a five-year, $70 million contract with $45 million guaranteed, and slot receiver Cole Beasley the third year of a four-year, $13.6 million deal with $7.4 million guaranteed. They re-signed Terrance Williams to a four-year, $17 million deal with $9.5 million guaranteed in the off-season. They also re-signed fourth receiver Brice Butler to a one-year, $1.1 million deal with $300,000 guaranteed. They are set at receiver, though they seem intrigued with some of the receivers in this draft.

Top five

Mike Williams, Clemson, 6-4, 218, 4.53. He had two 1,000-yard seasons, finishing with 2,727 yards and 21 TDs.

Corey Davis, Western Michigan, 6-3, 209, NA. He set an FBS record with 5,285 receiving yards and scored 52 touchdowns in 50 games.

John Ross, Washington, 5-11, 188, 4.22. He ran the fastest fully automated 40-yard dash in history but underwent shoulder surgery after the combine.

Chad Hansen, California, 6-2, 202, 4.44. He led the Pac-12 in receptions (92) and receiving yards (1,249).

ArDarius Stewart, Alabama, 5-11, 204, 4.49. He ranks in the top 10 in school history in career receptions (129) and receiving yards (1,713).

Sleeper

Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington, 6-2, 204, 4.62. He holds the NCAA all-division record with 6,464 receiving yards and 73 receiving touchdowns.

Top Texas ties

Zay Jones, East Carolina, 6-2, 201, 4.45. The Austin SFA High product, projected as a second- or third-rounder, is one of 19 players in FBS history with more than 4,000 career receiving yards.

Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma, 6-0, 178, 4.38. The Cameron native, projected as a third-rounder, won the Biletnikoff Award after making 80 receptions for 1,524 yards and 17 TDs.

Ishmael Zamora, Baylor, 6-3, 220, NA. The Houston Elsik product, projected as a fourth- or fifth-rounder, has only eight career starts and off-field questions.

Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M, 6-3, 194, 4.52. The San Antonio Jay product, projected as a fourth- or fifth-rounder, finished in the top three in school history for career receiving yards (2,788) and receiving touchdowns (30).

K.D. Cannon, Baylor, 5-11, 182, 4.41. The Mount Pleasant product, projected as a fourth- or fifth-rounder, joined Corey Coleman as the only wide receivers in school history with multiple 1,000-yard seasons.

Fred Ross, Mississippi State, 6-1, 213, 4.51. The Tyler John Tyler product, projected as a late-round pick, had 160 receptions for 1,924 yards and 17 touchdowns in his final two seasons.

Source: Heights, weights and 40 times were compiled from CBS Sports draft analyst Dane Brugler.

82nd NFL Draft

Thursday through Sunday

Museum of Art, Philadelphia

Selections: Round 1, 7 p.m. April 27; Rounds 2-3, 6 p.m. April 28; and Rounds 4-7, 11 a.m. April 29

TV: ESPN/ESPN2 and NFL Network

Draft order

1. Cleveland Browns

2. San Francisco 49ers

3. Chicago Bears

4. Jacksonville Jaguars

5. Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles Rams)

6. New York Jets

7. Los Angeles Chargers

8. Carolina Panthers

9. Cincinnati Bengals

10. Buffalo Bills

11. New Orleans Saints

12. Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia Eagles)

13. Arizona Cardinals

14. Philadelphia Eagles (from Minnesota Vikings)

15. Indianapolis Colts

16. Baltimore Ravens

17. Washington Redskins

18. Tennessee Titans

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

20. Denver Broncos

21. Detroit Lions

22. Miami Dolphins

23 New York Giants

24. Oakland Raiders

25. Houston Texans

26. Seattle Seahawks

27. Kansas City Chiefs

28. Dallas Cowboys

29. Green Bay Packers

30. Pittsburgh Steelers

31. Atlanta Falcons

32. New Orleans Saints (from New England Patriots)

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