Clemson WR Justyn Ross Says He’s Healthy; Won’t Work Out at Combine
INDIANAPOLIS — Clemson wide receiver Justyn Ross says that he’s fully healthy after recovering from a stress fracture in his foot that prematurely ended his 2021 season. But if the Steelers want to see him prove that, they won’t get the chance to do so in Indianapolis.
Despite stating that he’s 100%, Ross said that he won’t set foot on the field at the NFL Scouting Combine, opting to wait until his March 17 pro day at Clemson to allow himself to fully recover from foot surgery. He will participate in the bench press, but that and interviews are the only exposure the Steelers and other NFL teams will get to Ross this week.
“It was a pretty common injury, so (the surgery) was smooth,” Ross said. “I feel like I can go through the roof because of my ability, my size and everything that I come with.”
What Ross comes with includes a mix of both positives and negatives, as his freshman season fully displayed what he can be when he’s fully healthy. His first two seasons at Clemson were as good as anyone could have hoped for, as he scored 17 touchdowns in two seasons and helped lift the Tigers to a national championship in his freshman season.
But after the discovery of a congenital fusion of his neck and spine that required surgery with Pittsburgh neurosurgeon David Okonkwo, the questions began. Ross missed all of 2020 and spent 18 months away from the field, then saw his numbers drop to 524 yards and just three touchdowns on a Clemson team that wasn’t anywhere near as good as it had been in his first two years.
However, it’s fair to question whether that drop-off had more to do with Ross or with the Tigers’ offense transitioning away from an NFL-caliber quarterback. Ross spent his first two seasons catching passes from Trevor Lawrence, who became the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s draft, and Clemson’s offense wasn’t the same without Lawrence in orange.
That makes Ross’ pro day one of the most important leading up to this year’s draft, as it’ll help answer a fair amount of questions as to whether Ross’ drop-off had more to do with injuries or with factors beyond his control. For his part, Ross has spent a lot of time answering questions about his injuries, something he prepared for well before the Combine.
“All of my meetings have been pretty standard,” Ross said. “I’ve done several mock interviews with my agents; you’ve got to be prepared. I’m going to do the bench so teams can see my strength and see what I can do weight-wise. As far as everything else, I’ll wait until pro day and they can see everything there.”
Based on his projected draft slot and the fact that the Steelers need to add value at wide receiver, Ross shows up as a popular fourth-round pick on several Pittsburgh fans’ wish lists. However, Ross’ words won’t exactly bolster those hopes, as he confirmed that he’d met with the Eagles and Raiders but couldn’t remember if he’d spoken with the Steelers.
If he lasts until Day 3, it wouldn’t be an ideal situation, but Ross cares about what he can do once he’s in training camp rather than when his name comes off the board.
“I try not to worry about it too much,” Ross said. “I know that somebody is going to take a chance on me, and it’s going to be worth their while.”