COLUMBIA, S.C. — After his freshman season at Clemson when he helped the Tigers win the second national championship in the Dabo Swinney era, Justyn Ross seemed destined to be a first-round of second-round draft pick in an upcoming NFL Draft. But his 2020 season was derailed due to spinal surgery for a congenital fusion.
He missed the entire 2020 season before returning to the field as a reshirt sophomore in 2021. Ross recorded 514 yards and three touchdowns but missed the final three games due to a stress fracture in his foot.
At Clemson's Pro Day, Ross went through all the drills in front of NFL scouts and did his best to convince them he was good to go in terms of his health.
But only four out of the 32 teams medically cleared Ross and had him on their draft boards, that according to Swinney who found out that information after the NFL Draft. So with such a small pool of teams having Ross on their draft radar, the 6-4 receiver was almost assuredly going to be undrafted and that proved to be the case.
But Ross landed on his feet as one of the four teams who had Ross on their draft board was Kansas City and that's who Ross signed with as an undrafted free agent. This week, Ross went through rookie mini-camp with the Chiefs, his first steps toward earning a spot on the 53-man roster.
Swinney says this is a great situation for Ross as he will be playing in Andy Reid's offense and catching passes from Patrick Mahomes. The coach says if Ross stays healthy, his former wideout could be "the greatest free agent ever".
High praise from Swinney to be sure, but it's not everyday a potential first-round draft pick ends up being undrafted. But Ross' history of injuries obviously made a lot of NFL teams back off. That might prove to be for Kansas City's benefit and if Ross can play a big role in that franchise returning to the top of the NFL mountain, it would be what Comeback of the Year awards are made of.