Washington receiver John Ross will take his shot at breaking the record for the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine Saturday.
Former Washington standout receiver John Ross said he thinks he passed one big test in the early stages of the NFL combine, showing teams they have nothing to worry about when it comes to a right knee injury that caused him to miss the 2015 season.
“It went good,’’ he said of his physical. “Knees are stable, didn’t hear nothing negative.’’
Now to take on one large challenge — attempting to break the combine’s record in the 40-yard dash of 4.24 set by current Arizona running back Chris Johnson in 2008.
“I’m going to try,’’ said Ross, who with the rest of the receivers will be timed Saturday. “I don’t want to say too much, (that) I’m just everything. But I’m definitely going to try. I’m definitely going to go for it.’’
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Ross’ best time in the 40 is 4.25 at the Husky Spring Combine last March, which is plenty fast enough and one reason he has been racing up mock drafts in recent weeks, with increasing speculation he could be taken in the top half of the first round. NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock earlier this week called Ross the best vertical threat available in the draft.
Ross didn’t shy away from that assessment when asked to compare himself to the other two receivers he is generally considered on par with as likely first-rounders — Corey Davis of Western Michigan and Mike Williams of Clemson.
“Speed, definitely the speed,’’ said Ross. “I know Mike is a big (6-4, 220) receiver. He can also be a deep threat but he’s more of a bigger guy. Corey Davis is a complete guy also. But I just think I’m faster than those guys and I think that’s what shows up more in our three films.’’
Ross turned in plenty of highlight-reel plays in 2016 when he had 81 catches for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns, the latter tied for second in the nation, a season that marked a rousing return from uncertainty when an ACL injury forced him to sit out.
Friday, Ross said one inspiration was former Husky teammate Deontae Cooper, who had three ACL injuries during his UW career.
“That’s something that is hard to overcome,’’ Ross said. “Especially with me going through it once I would never wish that on anyone. To see him overcome three, there’s nothing more amazing and I’ve never even seen a frown on his face. He is always positive and every day he comes with high energy and he’s happy to be where he is. It’s good to be around someone like that.’’
And maybe it’s the example he saw in Cooper that compelled Ross — who is one of a record seven Huskies at the combine — to say the experience may turn out to be a positive.
“I think it gave me an advantage,’’ Ross said. “I feel better, I feel stronger and I think it helped me throughout my career.’’
Ross, who measured 5-10 and 188 pounds, still has one injury issue to overcome — he plans to have surgery on his shoulder on March 14. He said he wanted to delay it until after the combine because “I wanted to come here and enjoy this process. Not everyone can do this.” While the injury could take 4-5 months or so to totally heal, Ross said he isn’t worried that he won’t be ready for the start of the 2017 season.
Trying to enjoy the ride is one thing Ross was told this week by former NFL standout DeSean Jackson, a fellow Los Angeles native whom Ross began working out with last year.
What Jackson also has told Ross throughout is that he’ll need more than speed — even if it’s the most speed of anyone to take part in the combine — to make it in the NFL.
“Basically how to use my speed — when to turn it on and when to turn it off,” Ross said. “Growing up I never really had someone to monitor me on that. I just kind of basically was running around out there and I just used that against a lot of people. But as you get older, a lot of people get faster, a lot of people get smarter and you can’t just run past everybody.”
Even if, as Ross hopes to show Saturday, you have the speed to do so.