Bengals Draft: John Ross is the worst pick of the past 5 years

Leigh Oleszczak
John Ross (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
John Ross (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Bengals have drafted their fair share of duds but there might not be a worse one, at least not in recent years, than John Ross. The Washington wide receiver is still looked at as the worst Bengals draft pick over the past half-decade.

Maurice Moton of Bleacher Report listed every NFL team’s worst draft pick of the past five years and for the stripes, Ross was the lucky candidate.

Moton wrote:

"Ross never found his footing with the Bengals—even after the team parted ways with former head coach Marvin Lewis following the 2018 campaign. He had an inefficient, injury-plagued four-year tenure in Cincinnati, hauling in 51 passes for 733 yards and 10 touchdowns with a 41.5 percent catch rate.Needless to say, the Bengals declined the fifth-year option in Ross’ contract. In 2021, he signed with the New York Giants but made minimal contributions through the regular season, recording just 11 receptions for 224 yards and a touchdown."

Bengals Draft: John Ross pick still haunts fans

Ross was the third receiver taken in the 2017 NFL Draft, following Corey Davis at No. 5 and Mike Williams at No. 7. As Moton noted, the speedy receiver didn’t live up to any kind of expectations for the stripes, garnering just 733 yards and 10 touchdowns through his four years with the organization.

Had the Bengals not managed to land Joe Burrow a few years later, this pick would have looked a lot worse, as Ross went one pick ahead of MVP-winning quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who went No. 10 overall to the Chiefs.

Fortunately, Burrow joined the Bengals three years later so that point is no longer the reason this Ross pick was so bad. As Moton mentioned, the Washington product simply never got it going during his time in the Queen City. He moved on last year, signing with the Giants and totaling the second-most yards in his career.

While Ross put together a season in which he had 506 yards, that’s not what teams are expecting from a first-round receiver, especially one taken in the top 10 of the draft. John Ross had the speed that could impress the hell out of anyone but when it came to putting it all together, he couldn’t figure it out.

Some other names I’d have considered for the Bengals’ worst pick of the past five years would be Billy Price or Drew Sample, neither of whom accomplished much of anything during their time in the black and orange stripes.

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