Position: Wide Receiver
Height: 6'0" Weight: 181 lbs
College: Arizona State
Drafted: Undrafted (2013)
#1. Rashad Ross is a very fast man. Having clocked a 4.36 40-yard dash at his pro day in 2013 (or a 4.34, depending on who you ask), he comes with serious big play ability. He starred as a returner and was a capable enough receiver for his freshman and sophomore seasons at Butte College, where he also ran track, then he transferred to Arizona State for his junior and senior seasons.
#2. At ASU, Ross hauled in 55 receptions for 864 yards and seven touchdowns, but he really made his presence felt on special teams. He returned 28 kicks in his two seasons, piling up 779 yards for an average of 27.8 yards per return, and took two of them to the house.
#3. A compilation from his days at Butte College makes him look like Dante Hall reincarnate, and much like Hall, he often doubles back on his returns to sprint up the opposite side of the field. This works well against the low level of competition he faced in junior college, and to an extent was successful at Arizona State, but NFL gunners will be able to stick with him much more easily. If he tries to double back on a return and gets caught, he's going to turn a potential gain into a substantial loss. It's a risky play that often works when the player can outrun everybody else on the field, but most NFL rosters have a handful of guys that are just as fast as Ross is.
#4. His elusiveness is easily his strongest and most valuable skill, but it's tough to say how effective it is against the highest level of competition. He made defenders look silly plenty of times in college, but most of his big plays came via a single juke that opened up a massive hole; that simply does not happen with any sort of regularity in the NFL. To his credit, he has an absolutely nasty cutback move that put would-be tacklers on their backs on more than one occasion, and he sometimes throws in a stutter step that complements his cutback beautifully. My personal favorite example of this comes at the 4:23 mark of the video above.
#5. His NFL career has been brief but full of activity. After going undrafted in 2013, the Tennessee Titans picked him up for the summer and eventually signed him to their practice squad. Midway through the 2013 season, the Titans waived him, only for the Kansas City Chiefs to sign him to their practice squad a couple of weeks later. Kansas City waived him in May 2014 and the Redskins picked him up 11 days later, only to release him right before the end of the 2014 preseason.
Before the Skins let him go, however, he was their primary kick returner for three preseason games. Ross returned four kicks — all other returners combined to return just two kicks — for 128 yards, including a 42-yarder in the team's second game. He also caught two passes, the first for 35 yards and the second for 43 yards, demonstrating what he's capable of if given space.
Ross signed on with the Chicago Bears' practice squad a few days after the Redskins cut him, and he finally made his NFL debut in Week 3. He returned three kicks for 63 yards, then followed it up by returning two kicks for 43 yards the next week. He didn't play a role in the passing game in either contest and was waived two days after his second game. Ross again cleared waivers and was signed to the Bears' practice squad, but he was released after a few days, only to be picked up by the Redskins again a week later. He was released from and re-signed to the Skins' practice squad once more in the season, which brings us to where we currently stand.
Bottom Line: Though his chances of making the team are slim, Ross has a niche carved out, which is something many hopefuls cannot say. He can provide a spark at any moment and has a history of at least moderate success in the return game. Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson, Andre Roberts and Ryan Grant are all expected to make the roster, and Washington invested draft picks in Jamison Crowder (fourth round) and Evan Spencer (sixth round), so they come into camp with a distinct advantage. Ross could snag one of the final roster spots if one of the above gets injured or dramatically underperforms, but the likeliest of scenarios is that he again bounces around the league's practice squads.