The Bengals taking speedy but oft-injured receiver John Ross ninth overall was one of the more polarizing picks in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. I heard from several teams that Ross' knees were a massive concern before the draft, and afterward several teams confirmed that for me again, with several dubbing him "a medical reject" on their boards. The procedures he has been through cause concern, and it was somewhat telling as well that after three receivers went in the top nine picks, not one went in the rest of the first round.
It wasn't a great class that early, and Ross scared a lot of people, but clearly not the Bengals.
"We looked at him as a one-contract player," said one team executive. "Our doctors had serious reservations about his longevity at this level."
There were a slew of potential impact defensive players on the board who would have made a lot of sense for the declining Bengals, whose run of five straight playoff appearances ended abruptly last season. And, with tight end Tyler Eifert plagued by injuries recently, they also passed on O.J. Howard, a super-clean tight end prospect.
Some teams were willing to buy in on Ross on Day 2, with less at stake for a player with that medical risk. Clearly the Bengals want immediate impact to try to get back to winning ways, and their medical staff was comfortable with Ross, but this was certainly a surprising pick to others.
By Thursday I heard from several sources that the Titans were all-in on Corey Davis and preferred him to Mike Williams. If the Titans went wide receiver, he was their guy. I had him mocked to Tennessee at 18, and they grabbed him fifth overall.
It smelled like a reach to some -- especially with Davis injured during the pre-draft period -- but it won't matter if he is an impact player. It did surprise that he was still the pick, again, over all-around tight end O.J. Howard from Alabama, however. Sure the Titans have Delanie Walker and he is a stud in their offense, but Walker will turn 33 during training camp. Howard making it out of the top 10 was a shocker to me, and I sniffed around with teams to find out, after the draft, if there was something we didn't know about the kid that fueled the slide.
"Nope, nothing," said one AFC decision maker. "I can't believe he fell to 19. Great player. Good kid. There was nothing behind the scenes, it's just the way the board broke."