The Cincinnati Bengals are continuing to rebuild at wide receiver at they lost two of their top three at the position during the 2016 offseason. Last year, they added Tyler Boyd out of Pittsburgh in the second round, among others. This year, they took John Ross in the first round, who set a Combine record with a 4.22-second 40-yard dash.
His speed made him a major story, but as his profile grew following his Combine performance, his injury history became a bigger and bigger narrative, to the point at which facts were being created rather than the genuine information being passed along.
“People were saying I tore both my ACLs, I was playing on an MCL sprain”, he told reporters about the rampant speculation that he has had to endure about his durability over the course of the past several months leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft, in which he was taken as a top-10 pick.
The 5’11”, 190-pound wide receiver out of Washington has certainly had his fair share of injuries, and nobody is more aware of that than he is. He understands that there are questions about his durability. What he doesn’t understand is where all the false information is coming.
It got to a point at which his agent had to issue a statement that outlined the injuries that he suffered during his college career. He had surgery to repair his right lateral meniscus in January of 2015. Just a few months later, he had to go through ACL repair surgery.
Ross tore the labrum in his shoulder during his final collegiate season, but he played through it, and went through the Combine with the injury, only after which he had surgery. So he understands the hesitation about his durability. But he doesn’t understand how anybody could question his toughness.
“I tore the labrum blocking and playing against one of the most physical teams in our conference”, he noted. “I don’t think people understand. Some people don’t watch the film so I feel like there’s no need to defend yourself sometimes”.
“Imagine if I was healthy”, he said, is what he would pitch to people—and to teams, including the Bengals, who bought in. And they had as good a reason as any to do so, because nobody looked into his medicals more.
The Bengals’ medical staff looked him over at the Combine. He got the once-over treatment again when he came in for a pre-draft visit. And it was their medical staff who handled his Combine medical recheck as well. They were comfortable with his knee and his shoulder, so they took him.
Still, he knows that he is going to continue to have to answer the durability questions until he proves that he can go through a season or two healthy, which will be a taller task against NFL competition, and in a longer season. Playing against the physical teams of the AFC North won’t make it any easier to stay healthy. Just ask Boyd, or Jones. If you’re reading, John, here are some visual aides for what you’re getting yourself into.