John Ross III is a top-10 NFL draft pick.
The Cincinnati Bengals picked Ross, the speedy Washington Huskies receiver, with the No. 9 pick in Thursday’s first round. Ross becomes the first UW receiver picked in the first round since 2004, when Reggie Williams also went No. 9 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Ross won Associated Press Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year honors after catching 81 passes for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns for the Huskies in 2016. Ross, a first-team all-conference selection, also set UW’s career record for kickoff return touchdowns with four.
A native of Long Beach, California, Ross missed the 2015 season after tearing the anterior-cruciate ligament in his left knee. But his draft profile seemed to improve every week as he emerged as UW’s best receiver in 2016, stacking highlight-reel touchdown after highlight-reel touchdown for a top-five team.
The hype reached its apex at the NFL scouting combine, where Ross ran a record-setting, 4.22-second 40-yard dash, further bolstering his credibility as a first-round prospect.
NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said recently that concerns about Ross’ durability -- he had two knee surgeries in college and had surgery in March to repair a shoulder injury through which he played for most of last season -- led some teams to drop the 5-foot-11, 188-pound wideout on their board. Instead, he went higher than nearly anyone anticipated, becoming the Huskies’ fourth first-round pick in the last three drafts, and the first offensive player from UW picked in the first round since quarterback Jake Locker (8th overall to Tennessee) in 2011.
Spotrac.com estimates the value of Ross’ fully guaranteed, four-year rookie contract at nearly $17.2 million, including a signing bonus of a little more than $10.1 million.