The Official Website Of Chiefs Focus

Why Justyn Ross will have a breakout season in 2023?

Don’t be shocked if the redshirt rookie makes an instant impact in 2023

(Photo by: TPT Productions)

With the departure of WR JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman failing to live up to expectations after four seasons, there will be competition this season for the number one receiver spot in Kansas City. Chiefs WR Justyn Ross will head into the 2023 season as a redshirt rookie after missing all of 2022 with a leg injury. 

Ross played his college ball at Clemson. After an excellent freshman season paired with Trevor Lawrence, the current third-year Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback, Ross saw his draft stock dwindle as he evaluated the risk of continuing to play with neck issues. Ross had a combined 1,865 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns in his first two seasons at Clemson, then 514 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns last season. A foot stress fracture shut him down in November of 2021, but that injury along with his leg injury is behind him for mini-camp. With that in mind, I will explain why I believe Justyn Ross will play a big role for the Chiefs in 2023 even if they get a WR via the draft or free agency.

Mini Scouting Report:

The Chiefs should really look at making Ross the “it man.” He has good size at 6’4”, 210lbs. When you look at his tape, he has shown that he has decent hands and is a solid route runner. As long as he has stays healthy. With reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes, Justyn Ross could have a breakout season. He’s got the elite height and weight with very good arm length and hand size that makes himself a threat with body positioning, catch radius and play strength. He’s a strong player coming off the line of scrimmage and uses his length well to keep defenders from jamming him.

His mental awareness is noticeable through running his routes to the sticks on 3rd downs while showing solid ability to work open in scramble drill situations. Even though he’s not a deep threat like Marquez Valdes-Scantling, his solid ball tracking skills will contribute to his improvement as a pass catcher in the NFL. At the top of his routes, his head and eyes come around first allowing him to identify passes that are in the air before making a play on in out of his breaks.

He’s comfortable lining up in multiple positions and can be swapped around to find a mismatch. His feet are quick and light for a guy his size, and he’ll surprise defenders with his short-area burst if he gets a safety or linebacker matchup. He can overpower cornerbacks at the line and at the catch point and uses his upper body well to box out for tough catches. He often rises to the occasion making those tough catches and big plays in 3rd down, redone and 4th quarter situation showing off his mental toughness.

Durability is the main issue for Ross going forward. Without a great ability to separate from defenders with speed, Ross will need to better protect the football. He doesn’t have deep speed and doesn’t run like a No. 1 receiver. He’ll have some struggles to separate deep and may be forced into being more of a short, intermediate, and red-zone target.

How He Fits with the Chiefs:

Just like Travis Kelce did in 2014 and Byron Pringle in 2019, the redshirt rookie is now NFL-ready and has the good awareness and recognition of what the defense is going to do. Justyn Ross fits the Chiefs scheme with his size, play speed, change of direction at the top of routes, and reliable hands in the intermediate areas of the field and redzone. He will be a valuable, reliable asset as he continues to develop. The Chiefs shouldn’t rely upon him to generate yards after the catch and he shouldn’t be relied upon as the Chiefs deep threat. I believe if the Chiefs give 60-80% of Ross’ targets as short to intermediate throws, he would find earlier success before Andy Reid dials up a play going deep for Ross. Again, his solid ball tracking skills will contribute to his improvement as a pass catcher in the NFL with OTAs, mini-camp and training camp coming up. 


After redshirting in his first year and now healthy, there’s a lot to like about Justyn Ross. He’s got all the makings of a big time receiver and he should be completely comfortable now at this level of competition to maximize his abilities, polish his routes and be dominating in 2023. He’ll probably encounter sone double coverage this season but I think his receptions number could start off well for some like Ross. Ross has the ability to be a true outside X receiver, and his presence adds another element to our offense that Mahomes has never really had since Sammy Watkins. This offense was at its best with Sammy Watkins on the outside and I believe that Justyn Ross has the ability and talent to be that type of player for the Chiefs. 

Follow Chiefs Fan 4 Life on Twitter @ChiefsFan4Lyfe. Check out my work, including why I think the Chiefs will have an underrated safety trio in 2023, the 3 mid-round options with blue chip potential in the 2023 draft, and why the Chiefs should consider Stetson Bennett in the later-rounds as Mahomes’ primary backup.

Want more Chiefs Focus? Subscribe to our podcasts, follow us on Twitter, follow us on Instagram, like us on Facebook or catch us at our YouTube channel.


Share this:


%d bloggers like this: