Late Bloomers Take Center Stage in This Year’s Class

Kyle Pollock

A few senior receivers have had breakout campaigns this year for teams with playoff aspirations. If you follow college football, you’ve likely heard of Dede Westbrook and John Ross. The pair has seemingly blown up out of nowhere to become the front runners for the Biletnikoff award. They both have their teams in contention for a spot in the playoffs, and if they perform well over the next few weeks their draft stock could sky rocket. Here’s a brief overview on each of the prospects.

[am4show have=’g1;’ guest_error=’sub_message’ user_error=’sub_message’ ]

Dede Westbrook, WR Oklahoma


  • Excellent speed
  • Route running
  • Open field ability
  • Good punt returner (only four punt returns, but did have a 71 yard touchdown)


  • Slender frame (6’, 176 pounds)
  • Age (Turns 23 on November 21st)
  • Only Plays on right side
  • Lacks strong hands in contested catch situations

NFL Comparison: Smaller, more polished Will Fuller

Westbrook is best suited as a complementary receiver for a team, likely as their second or third best option. He will need to add more weight if he wants to excel in the league, but he should be a capable field-stretcher for a team. I think going to a team like the Raiders, Falcons, or Lions would be the perfect situation for him, as he would likely see single coverage and could catch deep balls from strong-armed quarterbacks.

John Ross, WR Washington


  • Speed
  • Open field ability
  • Ability to stretch defense horizontally and vertically


  • Injury history (torn meniscus in both knees, torn ACL in left knee, micro fracture surgery in right knee)
  • Limited route tree (nine routes, crossers, and screens)
  • 50/50 balls

NFL Comparison: John Brown (shoutout to Nick Whalen for this one)

Ross is one of the most dynamic receivers in the country. He has emerged as the top threat for a Washington team that controls its own destiny in the Pac 12, and potentially in the playoff. He’s been getting a lot of first round buzz from #DraftTwitter, and it’s easy to see why. He has electric speed that allows him to blow past defenders, but he’s also much shiftier than Westbrook.

Nick Whalen recently compared him to John Brown, which feels like the perfect comparison for him. He’ll never be a team’s top overall receiving option, but because of his speed he will have games where he ends up performing as such. Brown also ran deep routes and crossing routes very well coming out of school, and this is the area where Ross excels. However, he needs to work on his short to intermediate route, and if he can improve on this he can be a very effective slot receiver. Ross also has long arms, which should allow for him to exceed expectations in jump ball situations. However, Ross has seemed to struggle with concentration on these 50-50 balls, which could hurt his stock slightly.