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Will Henry Ruggs III Be a Bust in 2020?
It’s no surprise that the Raiders elected to spend the 12th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft on Henry Ruggs III. This team needed a wide receiver, and the franchise has an affinity for drafting speedy wideouts early.
Remember, this is the same organization that drafted Darrius Heyward-Bey 7th overall in 2009 after falling in love with his 40-time at the combine. Of course they were going to be infatuated with Ruggs and his 4.27 speed. In fact, nobody should be shocked that Mike Mayock plucked Ruggs off the board ahead of Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb.
The question that remains is was that the right decision?
Henry’s upside is off the charts, and I’ll be rooting for him to succeed, but there are reasons to think Henry Ruggs III will be a bust in 2020. I’ll share four of them below.
Speed Does Not Equal Success
By running a 4.27 40-yard dash at Lucas Oil Stadium in late February, Henry Ruggs III became the 5th WR since 2006 to record a sub-4.3 time in the 40. Henry joined John Ross, Marquise Goodwin, Jacoby Ford, and J.J. Nelson.
That aforementioned group has accounted for zero Pro-Bowl selections, and quite frankly, none of them have panned out.
I alluded to the speed that Darrius Heyward-Bey possessed, and Phillip Dorsett was a former first-round selection who was also classified as a burner. The problem is, without acute route-running skills, great hands, and good coaching, all that raw speed never gets to materialize into anything substantial.
Limitations of Derek Carr
Henry Ruggs III excels in the vertical passing game where he can operate in space — something that doesn’t align with the way Derek Carr orchestrates this offense. Carr is a dink-and-dunk type of QB who doesn’t push the ball down the field nearly as much as Jon Gruden would like, and that could hinder Ruggs from maximizing his potential.
Case in point — Derek and the Raiders haven’t had a WR surpass 800 receiving yards in a season since 2016. Raider Nation is hoping Ruggs can break that trend, but suspecting it happens in 2020 would be wishful thinking.
Opportunity to Shine?
There are only so many balls to go around in Vegas, and let’s not pretend Henry was ultra-productive at Alabama. The fact of the matter is 21-year-old speedster caught just 40 balls last season in Tuscaloosa when he was considered one of the main options.
Derek Carr has established a rapport with Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow. Foster Moreau is a sincere red zone threat that Coach Gruden is excited about, and Tyrell Williams is penciled in as WR#1.
Did I mention that the main objective is to pound the rock with Josh Jacobs, or do you get a sense of how Ruggs could get lost in the shuffle?
Undeveloped Skill Set
You won’t find anybody questioning Henry Ruggs III’s speed. However, there are question marks surrounding Ruggs’ ability to handle physical corners. There is uncertainty revolving around Henry’s capacity to run polished routes, and he doesn’t track the deep ball nearly as well as some of the other top wideouts in this class.
At 5’11” and 188 pounds, Ruggs doesn’t have the strength to outmuscle CBs at the next level. And while he’s incredibly fast from point A to point B, he’s not very elusive when trying to evade tacklers.
Other than being lightning quick, Henry has a lot of room to grow. Expecting it all comes together in 2020 is ambitious, to say the least.
Was Henry Ruggs III a Smart Pick?
Was drafting Ruggs at #12 the right move, or was it one of the worst picks in the 2020 NFL Draft?
Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb sure seem like the safer choices, but Mark Davis has never done anything the conventional way. If Henry Ruggs III is a bust, then Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden will get lambasted for their decision, and we’ll continue to question Davis as an owner.
But if Henry evolves into a perennial Pro-Bowler and helps led this team to the playoffs, the front office in Vegas will suddenly look like a bunch of geniuses.
Only time will tell.