Recently, Inside The Star staff writer Brian Martin took a stab at a complete 32-team first round mock draft ahead of the NFL Draft that takes place 10 days from now. Understandably, he took Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley at pick number 28 for the Dallas Cowboys. Check out the rest of Brian’s mock draft here.
Much has been made this offseason about the Dallas Cowboys drafting defense. And while I agree that defense is a top priority for pick number 28, Brian got me really thinking about a player that he passed on for the Dallas Cowboys.
WR John Ross.
Now I know what you are thinking; the Cowboys don’t need to draft a wide receiver with their first round pick.
I would tend to agree with you, but John Ross is the player that would make me think long and hard about foregoing defense in the first round. Let me tell you why.
Speed is essential in the modern NFL and John Ross has it in spades. His 4.22 40-yard dash at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine was a new record in that test.
NFL.com compares John Ross to DeSean Jackson. That’s a player who would have me questioning my need for defense in the first round.
Read the overview from NFL.com’s scouting report.
Ross was just getting started on his way to stardom in Washington when he tore his left ACL in the spring of 2015. He had become known as a kick returner (three TDs in 2013-14) and big-play receiver in limited touches (16-208, TD in 2013; 17-371, 4 TD in 2014) before having to redshirt his third year at UW.
In fact, coaches liked Ross’ athleticism so much he started three games at cornerback (INT, two pass breakups) in a season he gained honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors.
In his return to the field in 2016, Ross became a star, garnering second-team All-American honors and first-team All-Pac-12 accolades with 81 catches for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns (tied for second in the nation).
– Lance Zierlein
Imagine for a moment what this offense could look like by adding a player with John Ross’ athleticism and speed on the outside.
Picture that the Cowboys have come to the line in 11-personnel (3 WRs, 1 TE, 1 RB) and it’s Ross and Dez Bryant on the outside, Jason Witten lined up next to the tackle and Cole Beasley or Terrance Williams in the slot, with Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield.
As Dak Prescott comes from under center and begins to turn toward the running back, defenses will be caught guessing; handoff or play action pass. You can’t cover both and if you guess wrong you are looking at Bryant or Ross taking one to the house through the air, or Elliott taking the handoff for a big gain as the defensive backs have to cover the pass.
You want a guy who can return kicks? Well Ross can do that too.
As was mentioned earlier, he was beginning to be noticed as a returner before getting injured.
Ross accounted for 28 total touchdowns in his three seasons at Washington.
While I still see the rationale in taking defense at number 28, a player like Ross, with his speed and proficiency for scoring touchdowns, takes an already very good offense and makes them elite.
While the Dallas Cowboys are very good at controlling the ball and scoring on long drives, how great would it be to add another guy that can score for you on one play.
John Ross is that kind of player.
I know I’m in a very small minority thinking that defense doesn’t have to be the pick at number 28. If I had to put money on it, I would bet that defense would be the pick, but for a player like Ross, I wouldn’t be disappointed if the Cowboys front office decided to take their offense to the next level.
Elite speed doesn’t come around all the time, we shouldn’t be so quick to pass on it.