Justyn Ross was one of the more intriguing players on the undrafted free-agent market this offseason. At one point during his collegiate career, the Clemson product was looked at as a potential first-round selection, but injuries — specifically headlined by a neck issue called Klippel Feil syndrome — helped sink his draft stock.
While the injury concerns are real, there’s no denying Ross’ talent, which was on full display in an impressive one-handed catch during an OTA session with his new team in the Kansas City Chiefs earlier this week. That grab has caught the attention of his quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
“Yeah, I mean, you still see the talent. I think that’s the first thing,” Mahomes told reporters on Thursday of Ross, via Pro Football Talk. “I know people saw the catch on Twitter, but it’s just the way he catches the football out of the air. He snatches it — there’s no drops or anything like that. Now it’s about him learning the NFL offense. That’s how it is for every rookie when they come in, is, you don’t see that top talent that they can be until they learn and they can just play fast. And I think you’ve seen that. You’ve seen those flashes of how talented he can be. And then you’ve seen times where he’s just barely off of what we wanted. And he learns from that, he doesn’t make that same mistake. “And so, the more and more reps that he gets, I can only imagine how good he’s going to be because of the talent he possesses.”
As Mahomes noted, the talent is there for Ross to be a legit weapon in the K.C. offense. During his freshman year at Clemson in 2018, he finished with 1,000 yards receiving with a 21.7 yards per reception average. Ross shined during the College Football Playoffs that year where he totaled 12 receptions, 301 yards, and three touchdowns over two games en route to a National Championship victory by the Tigers. Ross was Clemson’s No. 1 option even with other NFL receivers like Tee Higgins, Hunter Renfrow, and Amari Rodgers on the roster.
That production put him on the map as a blue-chip NFL prospect, but that rare neck injury — where two of his neck vertebrae were abnormally fused — derailed his ascension to become one of college’s best wideouts. So long as he stays healthy in the NFL, however, he’s in a position with the Chiefs to possibly still have a very productive pro career. While early, it seems like he’s taking positive steps in that direction.