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NFL Draft 2017: Will the Buccaneers look at John Ross?

Speed kills but will injury history keep Tampa away

NFL: Combine
Ross breaks the combine record
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

John Ross of Washington, who many on the east coast probably didn’t get to see play, took a big swing at Chris Johnsons’s NFL combine record 4.24-second 40-yard dash. The unofficial time while watching live on NFL network was 4.22 seconds, which would set an NFL record. Former Washington GM Charles Casserly tweeted out his hand time of 4.19 where as Gil Brandt tweeted 4.25 (just shy of the record). Video appeared to show that Johnson was perhaps a little faster as NFL Network utilized the same yellow line it does for football games. We waited nearly 3 hours for the NFL to make it official before it was official: John Ross is the holder of the fastest NFL combine 40-yard dash time at 4.22 seconds, topping the previous mark by two one hundredths of a second.

The achievement is great, but just like Chris Johnson, Ross isn’t just a sprinter. He’s a legitimate starting wide receiver with NFL skills. He’s fresh off a break-out season in Washington, posting 81 receptions for 1150 yards at 14.2 yards per catch and a whopping 17 TD’s.

Ross has even been rumored to be a potential target for a certain team on the west side of Florida who could use a second major weapon to take pressure off of Mike Evans. A speedster to blow the top off the defense would be nearly the perfect compliment to Evans as he received bracket coverage the majority of games late last season a CB in man, a LB underneath, and a safety over the top. It’s harder to dedicate the safety over the top if the defense has to worry about posts, flags, and verticals turning into forty plus touchdowns.

The Bucs seem to be aware of this, which is why they signed DeSean Jackson. If there is one thing Jackson does well it’s threaten the safety on deep routes.

It’s not all roses however with John Ross. He’s not an exceptionally big target at just 5’11” and 182 and Winston hasn’t yet brought the 40-yard dimes into his repertoire. However, that’s really secondary compared to the major red flag with Ross which is injury. Ross suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee in 2014 and while he didn’t miss any time due to it was slowed by it.

Then he suffered a pretty devastating torn left ACL in 2015 which caused him to miss all of that season. While appearing finally healthy this past year he also tore his labrum early in the season and will require shoulder surgery this offseason. That’s 3 pretty significant injuries in 3 consecutive seasons. This gives rise to the question, will he be available? That’s a question right now that’s probably plaguing the Bucs as well as every other WR needy team.