Jeremy Spencer Ross
College: California (University of California, Berkeley)
Position: WR, KR, PR
Height: 6′0″ Weight: 203 lbs.
Born: March 16, 1988 From: Sacramento, CA
2) High School / College Highlights: A dual threat in high school as both a rusher and a receiver, Ross was an All-State selection and Delta League MVP with 964 yards on 99 carries and 718 yards on 45 catches. Committed to Cal in 2006 but spent the year redshirted and shared offensive scout team player of the year.
In 2007 played in 7 games mostly on special teams but not as a returner. In 2008 started 5 games and played in all 13 games, mostly as a returner and wide receiver. In 2009 he came into his own: he was 3rd on the team for all purpose yards and posted a 21.3 yard per punt return average, which would have been a Pac-10 and Cal record had he had enough attempts. In 2010 he lead Cal in punt return average and was rated as the 5th best draft eligible punt returner.
3) College Stats: 31 games, 57 catches/764 yards/3 TDs, 42 kickoff returns/851 yards/0 TDs, 31 punt returns/471 yards/1 TD
4) NFL Combine Results: Not invited. Cal pro-day: 4.39 40-yard dash, 4.24 short shuttle, 7.19 3-cone drill, 9’9” broad jump, 39” vertical, 22 bench.
5) Strengths/Weaknesses: A multi-threat player; Ross is a dangerous return man, averaging 20.3 yards per kickoff and 19.07 yards per punt return (18th in the nation). Also factors in as a wide receiver; at Cal Ross stretched the field as an outside wide receiver but also has the versatility to play in the slot. Ross was also sometimes used as a runner, most notably on wide receiver reverses such as in his touchdown against Arizona State University.
Ross has deceptive speed for a player of his size and height; his 4.39 40-yard dash time would have tied him for 3rd fastest among wide receivers with Julio Jones at the NFL combine. Ross also is very strong as he holds several Cal all time records for conditioning for his position, he can push the pile and is hard to take down, his 22 bench press results are impressive for a wide receiver and again would have placed him 3rd at the NFL combine among wide receivers.
As a returner he has good shiftiness and good fluidity in tight spaces. Has the potential to become a legitimate wide receiver at the NFL level; during the NFLPA game (formerly known as the Texas vs. The Nation game), Ross ran the entire route tree and caught everything thrown at him.
His main weakness comes from his lack of production; he never managed to compete as a starter and ended up as the 3rd wide receiver on the Cal depth chart and saw little time on the field. At Cal, he was not the most natural of wide receivers most likely due to the fact that he hasn’t played all that much of the position; he doesn’t catch the ball as well as you like, often having to double catch balls and he doesn’t run the cleanest routes. As a returner, he has a penchant for over running his blocking, but slowing down is usually readily corrected while speeding up is not.
6) Fit for the Packers: Last season, punt returns were handled by Tramon Williams, a pro bowl cornerback and a variety of players, including Jordy Nelson, James Starks and Pat Lee were rotated at kick off returner. However, the upcoming season has drastically changed things; for one, Tramon Williams is perhaps the best cornerback on the Packers (who had perhaps the best secondary in the league) and was given a $38 million contract last season and it would be foolish for the Packers to continue to let Williams return punts with that much money invested.
For kickoffs, its highly anticipated that James Starks will be competing for the starting running back spot with Ryan Grant and Jordy Nelson proved during the Super Bowl that he has the potential to overtake Donald Driver as the number 2 wide receiver (not to mention James Jones potentially leaving via free agency).
Again big contracts are likely on the way for both Starks and Nelson as eventual replacements for Grant and Driver. Under those financial considerations, General Manager Ted Thompson probably will try to avoid using either Nelson or Starks as the starting returner, so there is a priority to find one this offseason.
However, if one thing is apparently with the Packers, it’s that Thompson refuses to use a roster spot on a dedicated returner. His reasoning is pretty simple: special teams is not 1/3 of the game, or 100% as Joshua Cribbs seems to think. Special teams is more like 16% of the game (great website by the way, check out his other stuff); hence paying for top flight returner doesn’t make much sense; the Packers had one of the worst special teams this year and yet still managed to win the Super Bowl. What Thompson will be looking to do is find a returner who can also play another position late in the draft or through free agency. Jeremy Ross fits that description to a T.
As a wide receiver, Ross fits the wide receiver mold that the Packers like in terms of measurables (which reminds me a lot of James Jones) so he can come in as a returner and as a developmental wide receiver (the same system that they tried to use on Sam Shields, only he ended up being terrible at returning and terribly good as a cornerback). As a returner, Ross reminds me a lot of Brad Smith, do-it-all the wide receiver/running back/wild cat quarterback for the New York Jets. They both run with deceptive speed and are very smooth while shifting gears and making defenders miss.
7) Highlight video——————
Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.