The Las Vegas Raiders needed a wide receiver ahead of the 2020 NFL. When the time came, they took Henry Ruggs III over CeeDee Lamb. Will the former be better than the latter this upcoming season or will it be the other way around?
In the last draft, the Raiders had their choices at wide receiver when it was their time to select a player with the 12th overall pick. Surprisingly, the top three were still on the board: Lamb, Ruggs, and Jerry Jeudy. The Silver and Black went with Ruggs while the Broncos chose Jeudy and the Cowboys picked Lamb.
Ruggs’ speed separated himself from the others with his blazing speed. However, one writer thinks Lamb will have the most success in 2020. In a column, NFL Media analytics expert Cynthia Frelund thinks that Lamb will have the most productive rookie season by a wide receiver.
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The Case for Lamb Having the Most Impact
Frelund cites Lamb’s ability to break tackles and production in the slot as the two main reasons for his potential success in his first year. Also, she points out the fact the Cowboys already have a couple of playmakers at the position who will keep defenses honest. This in turn will generate more opportunities for the Oklahoma product.
“Lamb’s Oklahoma resume shows exceptional production from the slot and an elite ability to earn yards after the catch. Lamb forced the second-most missed tackles on receptions (26, per Pro Football Focus) among FBS receivers and recorded the third-most yards after contact (376, per PFF) last season overall, but we need more context to spin all that forward to see the difference he’ll make for the Cowboys. Looking at his slot production (24.2 yards per reception from the slot, the second-most in FBS, per PFF) and his ability to operate in the middle of the field, and factoring in how defenses facing Dallas will also be forced to account for Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, Lamb has the highest rookie wideout ranking in my model, checking in at No. 38 among all NFL receivers.”
Where Does Ruggs Rank In Her List?
Although Frelund thinks Ruggs’ ceiling may be higher than Lamb’s, some factors could make him tank. Mainly, she cites his route-running aptitude as the biggest risk factor. Hence, his place on her rankings.
“Ruggs could have more fantasy upside with the Raiders than Lamb does with the Cowboys, but there could also be a lot more potential downside with Ruggs than with many of the receivers ranked lower on this list. Ruggs lined up wide in 80 percent of his Alabama snaps and last season earned 10.5 yards after the catch per reception (third-most in the SEC among those with 30-plus targets, per PFF). Ruggs is a riskier pick, because while his physical attributes (he’s fast, if you haven’t heard) project for a lot of opportunities and have driven success in past offenses run by Raiders coach Jon Gruden, other key high-value metrics, like route-running aptitude (computer vision shows he hasn’t run the full route tree as often or as precisely as other receivers in this class), are unknown and therefore introduce fantasy risk. Preseason performance will likely help refine Ruggs’ projection more than it will for any other rookie wideout. Ruggs is currently my No. 42 WR overall.”
On a side note, Jeudy makes Frelund’s list at number five. She sees his versatility to line up anywhere in the field as his biggest strength.
All in all, Frelund makes some very valid points regarding all three rookie wide receivers. It’s too early to tell who will have the most success in 2020. Nevertheless, it seems like either Lamb and Ruggs will have the most productive season of their class in 2020.
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