University of Washington wide receive John Ross, an early first-round projection who fell off many draft boards in recent weeks due to concerns over his multiple surgeries, surprisingly went No. 9 overall to the Cincinnati Bengals in Wednesday night’s NFL draft. The 5-foot-11, 188-pound Ross caught 17 touchdown passes for the Huskies last season and then rocked the NFL combine with a record 4.22-second 40-yard dash.
In the aftermath of the combine, Ross was frequently projected as a top-20 pick. But in recent weeks his name began to disappear from first-round mocks because of a medical history that included two knee surgeries and a shoulder surgery the past two seasons.
That didn’t dissuade the Bengals, clearly enamored with Ross’s speed. Ross accumulated 1,150 receiving yards on his way to second-team Associated Press All-America honors last season. He is the only player in Washington history to score from 90 or more yards five times (receiving and kick returns).
The Bengals invited Ross to Cincinnati two weeks ago and the sides hit it off.
“I got that vibe when I was there,” Ross said on a teleconference call. “I called my agent and told him how good I felt. I told him, ‘Don’t be surprised if the phone rings on draft day and it’s the Bengals.'”
The Bengals return their top three receivers from last season — Green, wideout Brandon LaFell and slot receiver Tyler Boyd — along with tight end Tyler Eifert. LaFell finished second in catches and yards to Green, and he signed a two-year deal after the season.
A Long Beach, CA., native, Ross is the highest-drafted Husky since QB Jake Locker went No. 8 to the Tennessee Titans in 2011. He is also the fifth ex-Husky to go in the No. 9 slot, following RB Hugh McElhenny to San Francisco in 1952, DT Doug Martin to Minnesota in 1980, OT Lincoln Kennedy to Atlanta in 1993 and WR Reggie Williams to Jacksonville in 2004.
Other ex-UW players selected among the first 10 picks: C Rudy Mucha, No. 4, 1941, Cleveland Rams; DB Dean McAdams, No. 8, 1941, Brooklyn Dodgers; DT Ron Holmes, No. 8, 1985, Tampa Bay; DT Reggie Rogers, No. 7, Detroit, 1987; DT Steve Emtman, No. 1, 1992, Indianapolis.
Ross is also the third ex-Husky selected by the Bengals in the first round, following C Blair Bush in 1978 (16th overall) and LB Joe Kelly in 1986 (11th overall).