Following consecutive deep wide receiver classes, you could be forgiven for thinking there would be a drop-off in talent next year. However, there is a potent class of pass-catching playmakers to watch out for in the upcoming college football season.
For Clemson WR Justyn Ross, it’s a minor miracle that he is playing at all this year, let alone being considered as a 2022 NFL Draft prospect. In his scouting report, we look at Ross’s skill set, successes, and return from surgery.
Justyn Ross NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Wide Receiver
- School: Clemson
- Current Year: Redshirt Junior
- Height: 6’4″
- Weight: 205 pounds
Justyn Ross Scouting Report
Ross’s size is his most prominent attribute as an NFL prospect, standing at 6’4″. He can be a dangerous target on the boundary or in the back of the end zone. The Clemson WR’s impressive catch radius allows him to pluck the ball out of the air with remarkable ease, making him a nightmare for the opposing team in contested catch situations.
Additionally, Ross’s physicality is evident in his willingness and ability to block in the ground game, both at the line of scrimmage and further downfield, creating run-extending holes. Although he doesn’t excel in this area to the degree of someone like Tylan Wallace in last year’s draft class, Ross is still impressive as a blocker.
While Ross may not necessarily be fast or explosive, he does demonstrate a certain suddenness in his movement, particularly when selling route fakes and in his release at the line of scrimmage.
His impressive footwork in this regard is noteworthy. Despite primarily winning as a vertical threat, Ross has exhibited alignment versatility, lining up out wide on the boundary and field side of the formation and from the slot during his two playing seasons.
Areas for Improvement
Ross has been a valuable asset to Clemson as a playmaker, but there are areas he can improve upon. Despite being a vertical threat, he lacks speed and struggles to maintain separation from defenders, relying on contested catches. Additionally, he is not great at making big plays after the catch and is often tackled easily.
Furthermore, there is concern about his ability to bounce back from surgery and the impact of his year-long layoff on his game. Due to these uncertainties, it is difficult to predict his draft projection.
However, given his early-round talent and strong performance in his freshman year, he has the potential to solidify his position in that range with a successful season.
Ross’s Player Profile
Ross, a Clemson WR, is expected to enter the 2022 NFL Draft. However, his football career almost didn’t happen. In high school, Ross was a talented basketball player and considered pursuing a basketball career. It was only due to the determination of his football coach that Ross didn’t give up on football entirely.
Despite his initial interest in basketball, Ross showed promise as a football player. He played as a freshman and received offers from schools like Mississippi State and Kentucky before his sophomore year.
Eventually, he received over 20 offers and was ranked as the 45th-best player in the country. Ross ultimately narrowed his choices down to Alabama, Auburn, and Clemson but didn’t commit until after his senior season.
During His Final Season in High School, Ross Produced at a High Level
During Central’s successful 12-1 season, their wide receiver had an impressive record with 37 receptions for 730 yards and 13 touchdowns. Additionally, he made significant contributions to special teams by returning 14 punts for 383 yards and scoring two touchdowns.
Ross’s exceptional performances earned him first-team All-State honors, and he was also named a finalist for Mr. Alabama Football.
Despite being considered Alabama’s top player, many expected Ross to commit to the Crimson Tide team, as almost every top-ranked player in the state had done so since 2005. However, during an appearance on ESPN, Ross surprised everyone by wearing a Clemson cap, becoming the first top-ranked player from Alabama to join “Death Valley.”
At the time, Ross raved about “the different type of culture that they have there.” He also alluded to “more coaching stability.”
Ross’ Career at Clemson
After displaying impressive performance in training camp, Ross made his debut as a Clemson WR in the season opener. As a tall pass catcher, he immediately made an impact by catching a touchdown against Furman.
Two weeks later, during the game against Georgia Southern, the true freshman had his first 100+ yard receiving game, breaking triple-digit receiving yards on just three receptions. Although Ross became a consistent threat to ACC defenses during the 2018 season, he did not break 100 yards again until the College Football Playoffs.
In the semifinal match against Notre Dame, Ross had a remarkable performance where he caught six receptions for 148 yards at an incredible 24.7 yards per catch. His best performance, however, was saved for the biggest stage of them all, the college football national championship game against Alabama.
Ross secured a career-high 153 receiving yards at 25.5 yards per catch, adding a touchdown in the 44-16 victory. After finishing the season with a team-high 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns, Ross was named a Freshman All-American.
Despite Sharing the Clemson WR Room With Tee Higgins, Ross Led the Team in Receptions in 2019
Ross achieved a new personal best in a single game by catching nine passes against South Carolina, while also scoring one touchdown and accumulating 111 yards. Even though Clemson was unable to win successive national championships, Ross played a leading role in their defeat to LSU by amassing 76 yards.
In his sophomore year, Ross made 66 catches, gained 865 receiving yards, and scored eight touchdowns, earning an honorable mention on the All-ACC team. With Higgins having left for the NFL Draft, 2020 was anticipated to be the season when Ross would emerge as one of the top pass receivers in college football.
Ross Would Spend 2020 Battling for His Football Future Rather Than Elevating His NFL Draft Stock
During spring training, the Clemson WR was involved in a collision which led to an X-ray taken to assess a stinger injury. Unfortunately, the results revealed a more severe condition than anticipated. Ross was found to have a congenital fusion and a bulging disk, which required him to undergo spinal surgery, ending his 2020 season and leaving his future uncertain.
However, the good news is that Ross is expected to make a full recovery and return to the field. While awaiting confirmation, it appears likely that he will lead the Clemson WR team this fall. The question now is whether Ross can regain his previous form and position himself for early-round consideration in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Tony Pauline’s Scouting Report for Justyn Ross
Positives: Once highly rated receiver who is agile, displaying a fluid and smooth style. Extends his hands to offer the quarterback a target, snatches the ball away from his frame, and quickly turns upfield after the catch. Tracks the pass in the air, gets vertical, and competes to come away with the difficult reception.
Consistent hands catcher with outstanding timing. Knows where he is on the field, plays with balance as well as body control, and possesses terrific eye/hand coordination. Stays focused and shows strong hands.
Negatives: Lacks a quick release off the line of scrimmage and plays to one speed. Dropped a lot of catchable throws in 2021. Has struggled with injuries the past two years.
Analysis: Ross looked like a superior talent and early first-round pick at the start of his Clemson career. But then he suffered a neck injury and struggled with even more injuries last season. And while he made a valiant effort to return in 2021 and flashed skills from the past, Ross was obviously a fraction of his former self and wasn’t nearly as dominant.
Medical exams loom large and will be a determining factor as to where or even if Ross is selected in the draft. He’s no sure thing to make a roster at the next level.
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