Name a player who has more buzz (and possibly more polarized takes) surrounding him this offseason than Kansas City Chiefs undrafted free agent wide receiver Justyn Ross. I’ll wait.
The rookie has seemingly gotten more attention than his drafted counterpart Skyy Moore. This is probably unfair to Moore, but it points to just how much potential and excitement Ross is bringing to the table.
If it was all potential and excitement, then Ross wouldn’t have gone undrafted. The big question mark with Ross is his industry history, and it’s a big question mark. In 2020, it was discovered that Ross had a congenital spine fusion—a downright scary proposition for any football player. Any reasonable person would have understood if Ross had decided to walk away from the game then. But he didn’t.
The Kansas City Chiefs raised eyebrows when they signed undrafted free agent Justyn Ross to their team after the draft. What should Chiefs Kingdom think?
Ross underwent surgery and rehabbed for over a year before making it back onto the football field. Unfortunately, he sustained a foot injury soon thereafter which knocked him out of last season, too.
The reason this is all significant, and why it led to Ross being undrafted, is that before his injuries, Ross was one of the top players in college football and helped lead Clemson to a national championship in 2019. At the time, most would have thought he would be a first-round pick. But he wasn’t. And now Ross is a bit of a mystery to everyone, including top NFL evaluators.
Ross ultimately signed with the Chiefs after the draft. It was no secret that the Chiefs needed wide receivers, especially after trading away Tyreek Hill. However, they seemed to cover their bases by signing JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdez-Scantling and then drafting Moore out of Western Michigan in the second round. So when the news came out that the Chiefs were taking a flyer on Ross, it raised eyebrows.
So what should Chiefs Kingdom think about Ross? It’s hard not to be bubbling with a little bit of excitement no matter how you feel. Ross is about as low-risk, high-reward a player as has come through the league in quite a while. If he can recapture even some of the playmaking ability that he showed during that 2019 championship run with Clemson, then he’ll easily be able to make the roster as one of Mahomes’ options.
But if he’s able to return to form following his injuries: look out! The Chiefs got an absolute steal. And if he can’t return to his former glory? He was just an undrafted free agent who got a test run in the offseason that the Chiefs can easily cut bait with.
There is always going to be an understandable fear of Ross taking one bad hit and suffering a life-altering injury. The reality is that almost every football player faces that same situation every play. For Ross it is different. It is telling though that the Chiefs’ medical team (one of the best in the league) cleared Ross to play—a huge liability for the team to carry and admit. At the end of the day, it’s ultimately up to Ross if he’s willing to take that risk, and he clearly is.
The best stories in football are when players bet on themselves and win. If Justyn Ross wins this bet, Chiefs Kingdom will be smiling for a very long time.