Philadelphia Eagles: Trading for John Ross just makes sense

(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) /

After spending years looking for the next DeSean Jackson, the Philadelphia Eagles may finally be able to trade for his successor in Bengals’ WR John Ross.

There wasn’t a player I liked better in the entire 2017 NFL Draft than John Ross.

The premier deep-threat wide receiver in all of college football, Ross had speed, acceleration and the change of pace of a vintage DeSean Jackson, and looked like the kind of player capable of averaging 25-yards a catch in the NFL.

However, once he did his thing at the NFL Draft Combine, I knew there was no way it’d be on the board of the Philadelphia Eagles picked 16th overall.

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Now anyone with eyes should have assumed that Ross would run fast, very fast, but when he ran a 4.24 40-yard dash, the fastest in Combine history, it was all over. He was going to be a very high first-round pick, but just how high would he go?

Ninth overall to the Cincinnati Bangles.

But two years into his NFL career, it’s clear Ross’ performances have hardly been Pro Bowl-caliber.

After suffering a knee injury over the summer before his rookie season, Ross missed all but three games for the Bengals in 2017, and three more in 2018, for a career stat line of 210 yards on 21 catches and seven touchdowns.

His catch ratio? 36.2 percent.

Now granted, is that because he had to catch passes from a motley crew of quarterbacks like Andy Dalton and Jeff Driskel in Marvin Lewis‘ anemic offense? That’s very possible, but still, after two straight years in the same scheme, you’d think the young deep threat would be a bit more ‘deep threat-y’ in an offensive scheme desperate for big plays.

You don’t invest a very high first round pick on a wide receiver only to have one passing play of 40 or more yards over the course of an entire season (the worst mark in the league).

The Bengals are apparently so dissatisfied with Ross’ performances that he’s reportedly on the trade block as first-year head coach Zac Taylor isn’t even interested in testing his mettle any further.

If that’s true, and if Ian Rappoport is reporting it I don’t know why it wouldn’t be, Howie Roseman should run, not walk to procure the young speedster from Washington.

Ross isn’t going to demand a first-round pick for his services, as that would be a total non-starter, but even if the cost is as high as a fourth round pick, Ross simply has too much potential to not be pursued seriously.

As fans in the 215 already know, the Eagles have been desperately searching for their next great deep threat since Chip Kelly unceremoniously released Jackson in the summer of 2014.

From Chris Givens and Torrey Smith, to current players like Mike Wallace and Shelton Gibson, the Eagles have tried and tried again to find someone capable of reliably taking the top off defenses, and have time and time again come up short.

Over the last two seasons, the Eagles only recorded 43 and 52 passing plays over 20 yards, good for the 21st and 16th best marks in the league. While professional Ross hasn’t been much better, as his career-long reception is only 39 yards, in college, Ross accomplished that feat 14 times in 40 games, including 10 games where he hauled in a pass of 50 yards or more.

Those number are very impressive, and show a player who isn’t just super fast, but also well schooled on the game.

After tearing his ACL during the preseason of 2015, Ross spent the entirety of his would-have-been junior season learning the ins and outs of playing wide receiver and returned to Washington a different player for his redshirt junior season, a year where he hauled in 81 balls for 1150 yards and 17 touchdowns.

All of Ross’s potential and speed is still there to be unlocked by the right offensive coordinator; he just needs to be paired with someone creative enough to maximize his skill set.

There may not be a better playcaller in the entire league to unlock Ross’ potential than Doug Pederson.

As anyone who’s watched the Eagles play recently already knows, Pederson likes to throw the ball a lot, and with Ross lined up wide to the left, he could finally unlock all of those deep ball West Coast concepts he’s flirted with over the past three seasons, but has yet to fully incorporate into the Eagles scheme.

Could you imagine having a certified burner like Ross flying down the sidelines a half-dozen times a game as a man coverage buster? His presence alone could all but unlock the entirety of the field for the Birds’ receiving corp, allowing the rest of the team’s pass catchers to eat more consistently.

Bad news for Zach Ertz, but great news for Alshon Jeffrery, Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Dallas Goedert, and anyone else who joins the team in 2019.

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So an inflated cost notwithstanding, the Philadelphia Eagles need to be ready at 4 pm on March 4th when the 2019 NFL league year begins, as John Ross could be the perfect reclamation project to transform Pederson’s offense from above average to elite, especially if Howie Roseman can also procure a pass catcher out of the backfield to complete the team’s offensive process.