28 Aug Preseason Scouting Notes: Joshua Ross, LB, Michigan
Senior | 6’2” 230 lbs | Southfield, MI
A sure tackler and run stuffing connoisseur who has potential as a 3-down backer, but hasn’t been given much opportunity to cover
Joshua Ross is a run-stuffing Will linebacker for the Michigan Wolverines 4-3 stack defense. Having had his junior season shortened due to injury, Ross has many questions as to his growth as an all around LB. Ross anchors the center of the field for Don Brown’s defense acting as a force in run defense. Very rarely does Ross get asked to drop into coverage, and when does, it seems more of a forced hand. Although his skill set is limited, he does excel in what he is asked to do. He will lead the Michigan defense in 2020 as a classical run stuffing LB within the box.
– Dissects interior runs and attacks the offensive linemen gunning for him
– Maneuvers his feet quickly on interior run defense allowing for impressive lateral movement when navigating the line of scrimmage
– Keeps eyes up in coverage allowing for quick reaction to draw plays. Often tasked with shadowing the QB as well
– Plenty of special teams experience over multiple seasons
– Experience blitzing the interior on passing downs, with success. Ability to tackle rushers in space if holes are created in the middle of the field and not easily shaken by rushers
– Effectively navigates through interior traffic on congested run plays, tends to find the rusher and bring him down
– Has enough speed to keep up with quicker rushers looking to run past/around him
– Excels in run defense, missing a tackle or blowing an assignment very rarely
Areas to improve:
– Played a limited role as a middle LB, was not shifted around the defense very much
– Can get blown off the ball when playing on the line of scrimmage
– Taken off the field on many third downs, raising questions about his NFL viability as a 3-down LB
– Lasers in on run defense, making him susceptible to play action at times
– Remains within the box on a vast majority of plays, playing a very limited role
– High ankle sprain in 2019. Missed a majority of the season
Ross’ limited role as a true run defender begs questions for his NFL viability. Whether or not he can cover will heavily determine his draft stock. As it stands today, Ross has very impressive run defense skills that could slot him as an above-average LB in that department in the NFL. He dissects interior runs very quickly and responds even quicker. Considering the NFL’s reliance on passing plays on earlier downs however, and Ross’ limited experience in that department, he isn’t currently built for an NFL 3-down role. That said, run defense is still needed and he excels at it. Expect Ross to be drafted as a 5th rounder to anchor a teams run defense as a role player, with the capability of becoming a third round pick if he develops impressive coverage skills.
What to watch in 2020:
The big question for Ross is whether or not he can expand his skill set in coverage. Look for Ross to prove that he can cover effectively and stay on the field on third down. Expect Ross to continue anchoring the vaunted Michigan run defense, as they will need it after getting torched late in the season when he was injured. If his presence limits opponents’ rushing effectiveness, it could prove just how talented he is as a run defender. Having been sidelined against teams like Ohio State last season, it will be interesting to see how Ross performs against the talented offenses of the Buckeyes and other Big Ten powerhouses. Ross tackled well in his limited 2019 action, and continuing his consistent tackling in 2020 will be essential to solidifying his role.
Matt is a data science major at the University of Michigan.
He’s molded his propensity for data and his love for football into his analytics infused scouting.
His loyalty to the Michigan Wolverines is second only to his passionate hatred of Ohio State.
When he isn’t watching football, Matt plays a slew of video games.