The Bengals today signed WR John Ross of the University of Washington, their first-round selection (ninth overall) in the 2017 NFL Draft, and LB Carl Lawson of Auburn University, a fourth-round selection (116th overall). They are the first two of the Bengals’ 11 draft picks to sign. Both contracts are for four years, with Ross’ contract including a team option to extend it by one year.
Ross (5-11, 188) is considered by coaches to be an remarkably fast and dynamic addition to the Bengals’ offense. He clocked an exceptional 4.22-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, considered to be a combine record. At Washington in 2016, Ross recorded 81 receptions for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns. The reception total was the third-most in Huskies history, the reception yardage was the fourth-most, and the TD total was one shy of the school record. He was named a Second-Team All-American by Associated Press, and he was an All Pac-12 First-Team player.
“It’s great for John that this part of it is out of the way,” said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. “This gives him the opportunity to focus on finishing school and then football, and I think that’s important.”
Lawson (6-2, 261) was the first of three Bengals fourth-round draft choices. He adds a versatile skill set to the Bengals’ defense, both as a linebacker and a pass-rushing specialist. He played in 33 games with 20 starts at Auburn, totaling 14 career sacks and 24 tackles for losses. In 2016 alone, Lawson had nine sacks, just a half sack shy of the Tigers’ single-season all-time top-10 list, and 12.5 tackles for losses, 10th most in a single season in school history. He was voted by SEC coaches as an All-SEC First-Team player, and he was named All-SEC Second Team by Associated Press.
The 2017 Bengals draft choices still unsigned are HB Joe Mixon (second round; Oklahoma), DE Jordan Willis (third round; Kansas State), WR Josh Malone (fourth round; Tennessee), DT Ryan Glasgow (fourth round; Michigan), K Jake Elliott (fifth round; Memphis), C/G J.J. Dielman (fifth round; Utah), LB Jordan Evans (sixth round; Oklahoma), S Brandon Wilson (sixth round, Houston) and TE Mason Schreck (seven round; Buffalo).