Domo: Smallish John Ross could be big help to Eagles' offense
INDIANAPOLIS - During Chip Kelly's three-year sleepover in Philly, size mattered to him. A lot. The former Eagles coach had very specific preferences when it came to positional body types. He favored long cornerbacks. He preferred lighter, athletic offensive linemen with six-pack abs rather than 350-pound road-graders with hanging-over-the-belt bellies.
University of Washington wide receiver John Ross III recorded a 4.22 40-yard-dash at the NFL Scouting Combine on Saturday, the fastest in the history of the combine. Chris Johnson, the previous record holder, ran a 4.24 40-yard-dash in 2008.
Here is Daily News columnist Paul Domowitch's previous report on Jones:
INDIANAPOLIS - During Chip Kelly's three-year sleepover in Philly, size mattered to him. A lot.
The former Eagles coach had very specific preferences when it came to positional body types. He favored long cornerbacks. He preferred lighter, athletic offensive linemen with six-pack abs rather than 350-pound road-graders with hanging-over-the-belt bellies.
He wanted power-forward-tall defensive ends who tipped the scales just south of 300. And he preferred his wide receivers big.
If he still were coaching the Eagles and needed help at wide receiver as much as his successor, Doug Pederson, Chip's heart would be racing every time he turned on the tape of Clemson's 6-4, 218-pound Mike Williams and Western Michigan's 6-3, 209-pound Corey Davis.
Williams and Davis are two of the three projected first-round wideouts in the April 27-29 draft. The third is John Ross, a speedy but much smaller 5-101/2, 188-pounder out of the University of Washington.
Pederson, though, is a little bit more open-minded than Kelly when it comes to size at the wide receiver position. That's been obvious this week with the news that the Eagles have talked to the New Orleans Saints about 5-10, 189-pound Brandin Cooks, and Ross' acknowledgement Friday that, like Williams and Davis, he will meet with the Eagles at the scouting combine.
"This is a passing league and you need guys that can get open, whether they're 6-3 or 5-10," Pederson said. "What's most important is how well they fit into your scheme."
"With the way the receiver position has grown through the years, you're still going to have your Julio Jones-A.J. Green type guys. But it seems like the smaller, niftier, short-to-intermediate route-runner is kind of a trend.
"(That's) because pass-rushers are getting smaller and lighter and quicker and coming off the edge (fast). So if you're going to spread the field and be in a lot of empty formations, you'd better get the ball out of your hand. And you need those little bit quicker guys underneath."
The Eagles are determined to get their young quarterback, Carson Wentz, some more weapons this offseason. That's why they're talking to the Saints about Cooks, who has 215 receptions and 20 touchdowns in his first three NFL seasons. And that's why, even if they get Cooks, there's a good chance they still could take a wide receiver in the first round next month.
Eagles wide receivers caught a total of eight touchdown passes last season. Just one - Jordan Matthews - had more than 36 catches. The Eagles had just 11 pass plays of 30-plus yards, the second fewest in the league.
Matthews has 225 catches and 19 TDs in his first three NFL seasons. But he's a slot receiver. The Eagles need help on the outside.
Pederson and executive vice-president of football operations Howie Roseman made half-hearted efforts to talk up Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham this week. While they haven't given up on either of them quite yet, they are moving forward to find other pass-catching weapons.
Wide receiver obviously isn't the Eagles' only need. They need help at cornerback, defensive end and running back, to name a few other spots.
But there is considerably more depth in the draft at those other positions than at wide receiver. If they want to find Wentz a playmaking buddy, they might have to strike early.
NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock expects Ross, Williams and Davis to all go between 10 and 20. The Eagles are picking 14th.
"The three of them are distinctly different,'' Mayock said. "I think the Eagles have to figure out what their order or preference is, what kind of style they want. But they've got to be looking hard at all three of those guys and know up front, if one or two or all three are available, which one they'd take.''
The outcome of the trade talks with the Saints for Cooks could impact the type of wideout they'd draft. If they get Cooks, they might then prefer to get one of the bigger wideouts. If they strike out with Cooks, then they might prefer Ross, who is the draft's best vertical threat.
"I'm not one-dimensional," Ross said Friday. "I'm a guy who can move around, play different positions, be explosive.
"I don't want to be a guy who can just go deep. I want to be able to do a lot of things with my game."
Ross is a native of Long Beach, Calif., which also happens to be the hometown of another pretty fast, undersized wideout by the name of DeSean Jackson.
Jackson and Ross are friends. The former Eagle has taken the younger player under his wing.
"He's taught me how to use my speed," Ross said. "When to turn it on and turn it off. Because growing up, I never really had anybody to monitor me. I just basically was running out there.
"I was so gifted with speed, I just used that. But as you get older, a lot of people get faster, a lot of people get smarter. You can't just run past everybody, because people's techniques change and everybody gets better with age."
There are some injury concerns about Ross. He is scheduled to have surgery later this month to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder. The recovery time for a torn labrum is four to six months, which means Ross will not be able to participate in OTAs, training camp and much, if not all, of the preseason.
"But I'll be fine for the season," he said. "I'll definitely be fine."
NFL doctors also gave his knees a thorough examination at the combine. In 2014, he tore the meniscus in his right knee, then tore his left ACL a few months later and missed the entire 2015 season. But he bounced back nicely last year.
"It went well," Ross said of the examination. "The knees are stable. I didn't hear anything negative back (from the doctors)."
Which brings us back to the size issue. Ross knows a lot of other coaches out there besides Chip Kelly prefer bigger wideouts. He's spoken to some of them this week at the combine.
How does he defend his value to the size-matters crowd?
"I tell them to just look at the history," he said. "There's a lot of great receivers that weren't six foot. Like Brandin Cooks. Like DeSean. Like T.Y. Hilton and Emmanuel Sanders. None of those guys are 6-foot and they're all very, very productive.
"Antonio Brown is the highest-paid receiver in the league and he's not 6-foot. Guys that have come before me have set a great example of why they should give chances to guys like me. Guys that aren't as tell as they expect."