Former Bengals first-round pick considered one of biggest draft mistakes

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross (11) runs in for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross (11) runs in for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter / Sam Greene, Cincinnati Enquirer via

With the ninth overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals selected John Ross, a wide receiver out of Washington who dazzled at the NFL Combine with his blazing speed. Even though Ross was a bigger name after his performance at the Combine, the Bengals spending a top-10 pick on him was unexpected, to say the least.

Ross only played in Cincinnati for four years and appeared in just 27 games during that time. David Kenyon of Bleacher Report considered Ross to be one of the seven biggest mistakes made in the NFL Draft over the past decade.

"Ross dazzled at Washington, catching 17 touchdowns in 2016 while returning four kickoffs for scores in his career. He followed that up with a 4.22-second 40-yard dash at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine. Cincinnati landed him ninth overall, but Ross literally struggled from the start. He fumbled on his first career touch and spent most of the year as a healthy scratch. Ross flashed his potential in 2018 and 2019, but injuries stained those seasons and the 2020 campaign. Ross played in 27 of the possible 64 games with the Bengals before they declined his fifth-year option. He totaled 51 catches for 733 yards and 10 touchdowns in his four seasons."

David Kenyon

Yeah, look, Ross certainly wasn't a good pick by the organization. The talent was definitely there but it never was able to shine through. As Kenyon mentioned, Ross had just 733 yards and 10 touchdowns during his time in Cincinnati and it wasn't a surprise when the team opted not to pick up his fifth-year option.

John Ross was not a good pick by the Bengals.

The good news is that this pick didn't really hurt the team that badly. Three years later, they drafted Joe Burrow with the first overall pick and now the Bengals are perennial Super Bowl contenders. Yes, it wasn't fun that Patrick Mahomes literally went the very next pick but fans probably aren't mad about that anymore considering how good Burrow is.

Back to Ross, after his time in the Queen City, he signed with the New York Giants and caught 11 passes for 224 yards and one touchdown in 10 games. Earlier this year, he signed a Reserve/Futures contract with the Kansas City Chiefs.

As for the rest of Kenyon's list, if we're looking for silver linings, the Browns had two draft picks appear on there. Johnny Manziel came in at No. 2 and Justin Gilbert earned the No. 4 spot. Manziel needs no introduction and Gilbert was a star cornerback at Oklahoma State who was never able to leap to the pro-talent level. Both of those picks were in 2014... talk about a bad draft.

Worst Draft Picks in Bengals History. dark. Next

What did you think of the John Ross pick at the time?