Legendary Raiders owner Al Davis loved to have speed on his team probably more than anything. That said, more than likely the “Maverick” would’ve been proud and happy with the selection of Henry Ruggs III.
Last year, the Raiders made some noteworthy strides on offense. Specifically in regards to their offensive arsenal, the Silver and Black found their star tight end in Darren Waller and drafted wide receiver, Hunter Renfrow. Both important pieces for sure, quarterback Derek Carr would agree with that notion too, after all, he targeted them a combined 188 times.
Landing two reliable targets for the beset Raiders signal-caller was good. Nevertheless, there was still work to do. Enter the blazing speedster in Ruggs. What we all saw last year was an offense that was missing a breakaway receiver. A player that could keep opposing defenses humble and stretch them.
We really didn’t have anybody that could run. Nobody could run.
Via an interview with The Athletic’s Vic Tafur, Raiders owner Mark Davis elaborated on the Ruggs’ pick and made the correlation with his father as well.
“My dad was always trying to replace Cliff [Branch] with so many different types of guys… Speed, speed, speed and we really got away from that the last five, six, seven years. We really didn’t have anybody that could run. Nobody could run. I watched Henry Ruggs and his speed and quickness and his strength were pretty impressive.”
Davis certainly made the valid point when he said the Raiders have lacked that explosive receiver that will strike fear in defenses. Antonio Brown was supposed to be that threat. Alas, he never played a down for the Raiders.
“Maybe that’s the piece that we haven’t had that’s Raiders football. You throw it deep the first play and the safety is worried the whole game.”
In an era of complex offenses, formations, and playcalling, one thing Al always believed throwing it deep alleviated many problems. Whether head coach Jon Gruden will call deep passes on a consistent basis remains to be seen. By the same, perhaps now that he has someone like Ruggs, the offense can finally go back to “Raiders football” as Mark alluded to. We’ll have to wait and see.
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*Top Photo: Butch Dill/Associated Press