There’s no doubt that Las Vegas Raiders rookie Henry Ruggs III is a fast and talented wide receiver. The question is whether he can get off to a fast start as the Silver and Black will need him to.
Head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock drafted Ruggs to help them open up the offense. It can be argued that even though other top prospects were more polished as receivers, there was something about Ruggs. While speed might’ve been a determining factor, Ruggs also brings with him precise route running.
Given how the Raiders’ receiver group is assembled, without a true number one target, Ruggs will need to come out guns blazing. Anthony Treash of Pro Football Focus seems to agree, he recently listed Ruggs in his top ten rookies who need great starts.
Raiders Will Need More Than Just Speed From Ruggs
Treash highlighted Ruggs’ explosiveness and ability to create separation as something that will prove invaluable for the Raiders.
“Ruggs is a complete route-runner who can rack up explosive plays with his generational speed. Removing screens, Ruggs had open separation (more than a couple of steps) on 67.7% of his targets when lined up on the outside in 2019, which led all FBS receivers and was 30 percentage points above the average. His releases and route-running are precisely what you want in a wide receiver prospect. And when combining that with his speed, you get an after-the-catch monster (averaged 10.5 yards after the catch per reception in 2019).”
Whether Ruggs will strictly be used in the slot or be lined up outside will depend on Gruden. Also, Tyrell Williams recently sustained an injury that could potentially impact how he’s used. Another rookie pass-catcher, Bryan Edwards, has been making waves in camp. It might not be out of the realm of possibility the Raiders start two rookies at wide receivers. In fact, if Williams is a no-go, Ruggs will be relied upon as the number one receiver right away. It seems Raider Nation will see what they have in Ruggs right out of the gate.
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