I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the Patriots could use a receiver. New England currently ranks dead last in the NFL in yards from the wide receiver position. Their leading receiver over the last three games, Damiere Byrd, already has more yards this season than he did in his first three NFL seasons combined. It doesn’t help that an aging Julian Edelman is once again struggling with drops this season. It wouldn’t be a stretch to call the Patriots desperate for any help in their passing game at this point. One name to watch as the NFL trade deadline approaches is John Ross.
The former ninth overall pick reportedly isn’t happy with his role in Cincinnati and has requested a trade. With Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins and A.J. Green all ahead of him on the depth chart, Ross has been phased out of the Bengals offense. That last sentence may not inspire much hope. Anyone who’s not good enough to play on a team as wretched as the Bengals can’t be great, but there are some things to like about Ross.
Before being injured last season, Ross looked like he was in the middle of emerging as a top option in the Bengals offense. He opened the year with back-to-back 100+ yard games with three touchdowns over that span. Though Ross struggled to find a rhythm after spending about two months on IR with a shoulder injury and never reached that 100-yard benchmark again that season, he did put up six receptions and 84 yards against the Miami Dolphins in Week 16. All in all, Ross played eight games and finished with 510 total yards in 2019. Projected over the course of a full season, Ross would’ve topped 1,000 yards.
There’s clearly talent there with Ross. At the very least, there’s speed. Ross famously broke Chris Johnson’s record for fastest 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine in 2017. Ross bares some striking similarities to a player Cam Newton found significant success with during his MVP season with the 15-1 Panthers: Ted Ginn Jr.
9th overall pick in 2017
40-yard dash: 4.22
Ted Ginn Jr.:
9th overall pick in 2007
40-yard dash: 4.28
In 2015, Ginn Jr. finished with 44 receptions for 799 total yards, but neither was his biggest contribution. He had 10 receiving touchdowns that season which ranked 3rd in the NFC only behind Odell Beckham Jr. and Doug Baldwin. One could hope Newton and Ross could find something resembling that success in New England. Newton clearly loves working with the speedster archetype at receiver. It could be part of the reason why he’s favored Damiere Byrd so much over the last few weeks.
Ginn Jr. never lived up to his draft status, but he’s had a very underrated NFL career. He’s currently playing for the Chicago Bears in the midst of his 14th NFL season. Any skill position player capable of staying in the league for that long deserves some credit. He was in the same draft as guys like Dwayne Bowe, Sidney Rice, Steve Smith (the other one) and James Jones. Those players seem like relics and somehow Ginn has managed to stick around. In fact, he’s the only receiver from that draft still on an NFL roster. Ginn was not worth the 9th overall pick, but staying in the league this long is real credit to him. That kind of longevity is no small achievement. If Ross can be what Ted Ginn Jr. has been, he’s more than worth a flier from the Patriots.
Photo: (Mark J. Terrill – AP Photo)