Every Las Vegas Raiders fan knows wide receiver was one of the team’s biggest needs this offseason. They had different venues to addressed the position and they went with a couple of draft choices, Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards. The former displayed hints of his playmaking prowess against the Panthers in Week 1. Moreover, a former league MVP praised him after the game.
It seems like the Raiders got what they needed in Ruggs III
Wide receiver Hunter Renfrow played surprisingly well towards the end of the 2019 season and finished with back-to-back 100-yard games. Tyrell Williams started the year strong and scored one touchdown in each of the first five games of the season. Nevertheless, neither of them had more than 700 receiving yards and the third leading receiver, Zay Jones, had just 147. The Raiders clearly needed an upgrade at the position.
Ruggs and Edward made plenty of noise in training camp. Although we must take offseason hype lightly, there was a point when both rookie wide receivers got everyone’s attention. Ruggs received endorsements from pretty much everyone while Edwards was being compared to wide receiver Anquan Boldin pretty much every day. In his rookie debut, the Alabama standout showed the praise was warranted.
Ruggs caught three passes for 55 yards against the Panthers. Even though the final stat line doesn’t look that impressive, there are factors we need to take into consideration. The rookie injured his ankle, left the game but had no receptions once he returned. Had he been healthy for the whole game, his production could have been even better. Also, one of those three passes he caught was a 45-yard on. It was a clear example of what he can do in a feature role.
Ruggs is an ‘Al Davis’ kind of player
Hindsight is 202/20 and speed has always been part of Rugg’s game. However, former league MVP and Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon recently went beyond in his latest appearance in ‘In the Pocket’ with Erin Coscarelli. Not only did he described Ruggs’ speed as unusual but he gave him one of the biggest compliments a Silver and Black Receiver can get.
There’s a lot of fast guys in the NFL and then, there’s ridiculously fast. A 4.29 at the 40, this is an Al Davis type of player, he’s got what I would call rare and unusual straight-line speed. If you go back and really watch his 40 at the combine, it was effortless. It didn’t even look like he was running, it looked like he was jogging, and yet, he was picking up ground in a short period of time. He’s going to be hard to handle.
The late Al Davis prioritize speed in wide receivers over other traits. Gannon was able to play under the Raiders’ late owner and knew what kind of players he was fond of. When the former quarterback says Ruggs is the quintessential ‘Al Davis receiver’, we should definitely listen. Although we are uncertain how Ruggs’ professional career will play out, we got a glimpse of what he’s capable of doing in his first NFL game. The Raiders drafted him in part to his speed and he turns to be as good as he was with the Crimson Tide, he will be the Silver and Black’s next great wide receiver.
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Top Photo: AP Photo/John Locher Pool