The Cincinnati Bengals struggled to adequately replace former wide receiver Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu for years, and they haven’t made the playoffs since they both departed in free agency, even though they still had A.J. Green. Under new head coach Zac Taylor, they’re hoping they finally have the group to run their new offense.
The Bengals’ top three wide receivers should now feature two top-10 draft picks and a second-rounder, Green paired with Tyler Boyd and John Ross. Ross was the ninth-overall pick in 2017, but he has yet to really reach his potential. He missed most of his rookie season.
Last year, he caught just 21 passes for 210 yards—not exactly impressive for a guy with a 4.22 40-yard dash time to average 10 yards per reception—but seven of those 21 catches landed in the end zone. Still, while he scored some, the Bengals are looking for a much more complete game from him in year three. And he feels goo about where Taylor’s offense is headed.
“I love it”, he told reporters last month about his first taste of the new offense that is being brought in with the regime change. “I think it will play to all of our strengths. We all complement each other really well in a way that will be hard to defend with everyone on the field”.
Green, when healthy, is legitimately one of the top wide receivers in football, a guy who can do just about everything, whether it’s beating you over the top, boxing you out, winning at the line of scrimmage, or what have you. Boyd really developed as a potentially deadly slot presence last year. How will Ross continue to evolve?
For Boyd, the next step is for him to stop thinking so much. “He’s thinking and then he reacts”, Boyd said. “I feel like once he gets comfortable and makes plays he’ll be fine. He’s just got to cut it loose. He’s a great player. He runs his routes clean and he’s the fastest guy in the league. Once it comes to him and he can just react, it’ll be like a hot knife through butter”.
For his part, Ross said that he pretty much looks at his rookie season as a redshirt year. He was only active for three games and played just a handful of snaps in them. His one touch of the year was an end-around, at the end of which he fumbled.
“It depends on how hard you work and the chances you get and how well you grasp onto the opportunity”, he said. “You have to be placed in the right spot, show how hard you work and be ready to do what you do day-by-day”.
Of course, Pittsburgh Steelers fans are hoping that Ross never fully develops and reaches his ultimate potential. For one thing, they don’t have a cornerback who can run with him, though I suppose nobody really does.