Is it too early to label Raiders WR Henry Ruggs III a bust?

When Las Vegas Raiders used the 12th overall selection in 2020’s draft, they surely envisioned Henry Ruggs III becoming a key cog in their offense. After all, no team takes a player in the first round without a certain amount of expectations. Nevertheless, the Alabama standout has been a non-factor for the most part in his rookie year, and it’s fair to wonder if the Silver and Black might’ve made a mistake when they chose him.

The Raiders probably expected more from Henry Ruggs

By the time the Raiders were on the clock in this year’s Player Selection Meeting, no receiver had been selected. They had the chance to pick whoever they wanted but settled on Ruggs. His speed and ability to generate yards after the catch made him a top college prospect. In fact, Benjamin Solak of The Draft Network compared him to Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson. ‘D-Jax’ was a deep-threat early in his career and had no problems stretching the field, so the comparison was a positive one.

This season, Ruggs has dressed up for 11 games and has hauled in 23 receptions for 414 yards and two touchdowns. For comparison, fellow first-round pick Justin Jefferson has caught 73 passes for 1,110 yards and seven touchdowns. Meanwhile, second-round pick Tee Higgins is 191 yards short of reaching 1,000 receiving.

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Looking at Henry Ruggs in context

Not every receiver that was drafted after Ruggs has performed better than him. However, the fact he was the first one off the board was going to get him additional scrutiny. He has definitely infused the Raiders’ offense with speed. Also, his ability to stretch the field opens things up for his teammates. On the other hand, that’s not the kind of production you want from your first-round receiver. It’s not even about having a 1,000-yard receiving season. Rather, it’s about coming away with key third-conversions and clutch catches, something the rookie hasn’t done often in 2020.

Ruggs did catch the winning touchdown against the New York Jets in Week 13, and he hauled in two receptions for 118 yards and one touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs, but outside of those two performances, he’s been a non-factor in 2020.

So is the first-round wide receiver a bust?

The correct word is disappointing. Head coach Jon Gruden has previously mentioned Ruggs needs to work on certain aspects of his craft. Some of the lack of production is likely self-inflicted, but he could benefit from getting more targets. This season, he’s been targeted more than four times in a game twice, and it’s likely his numbers would be higher if the Raiders fed him the ball more often.

Regardless of the reason, Ruggs hasn’t had the impact the Raiders envisioned. There’s still plenty of time to turn things around, as nine games don’t break or make a player. However, his production in his rookie year isn’t on par with the expectations surrounding him heading into 2020’s draft.

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Top Photo: Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

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15 thoughts on “Is it too early to label Raiders WR Henry Ruggs III a bust?”

  1. Terrible article. What do the numbers say about the number of times he is targeted vs receptions? Then compare that to the other receivers.

    1. So being having a decent completion rate makes up for everything else? Even if he’s not targeted more than four times per game? Sure.

  2. You all need to leave the rookie along. It’s the play calling and the quarterback only targeting the tight end the majority of the time. Henry Ruggs III will be just fine. They must fine away to get the ball to him .Another thing is that you wouldn’t be say that if the Raiders were winning. Put on the defense.

  3. I think it’s too early to call him a bust. I blame the scheme. Where are the rub routes over the middle to get him open? Instead, all Gruden does is send him on go routes.

    1. Hi, Gary. you are absolutely right. While Ruggs should bear some blame for his lack in production, this is one mostly falls on the coaching staff for not putting him in a position to succeed, and thanks for reading.

  4. I think it’s too early to call him a bust, but it’s completely a failure on the Raiders part for not utilizing the rookie. Who drafts someone at #12 and then never throws him the ball? 23 catches? It’s amazing how many of our first and second round picks in recent years have had little impact (Ferrell, Conley, Arnette, etc…). Our later round picks have been excellent.

  5. Sanchez’ arrogance in replies to the comments above is astonishing.

    It’s Ruggs fault that he’s not targeted?!

    If you bothered to look at the coaches tape, you would’ve seen that he’s been open countless times and Carr never threw it his way. Whether it’s because Gruden did not call his name or Carr was scared sh**tless to throw deep an incompletion, it doesn’t matter – blame ought to be shared by those two.

    You draft a guy with the 12th pick and don’t develop new plays to use his skill set you raved so much about?! Sure, that’s Ruggs fault as well.

    1. Love the energy, bud. You may want to stop eating testosterone for breakfast though, there are no signs of arrogance in my previous answers. Never did I blame Ruggs for the lack of targets. While he needs to improve, the blame falls mostly on the coaching staff, something I have said plenty of times here, FB, HI5.

  6. The fact that he hasn’t been targeted means that, in general, he hasn’t been open, or that he isn’t trusted by the QB. Carr has actually done a pretty good job this year going downfield, just not to Ruggs. Ruggs has also blown a few catches where he didn’t get his feet down, so there is likely a element of trust at play there. It’s easy to find plays where specific receivers are open and don’t get the ball thrown to them – it happens on every team and to every receiver, though probably less often if you are DeAndre Hopkins or Davante Adams, but Ruggs is not them.

    Ruggs was not very productive in college, so his selection as the first receiver off the board was a little suspect. That said, I’m keeping an open mind on Ruggs for next year. He doesn’t seem to be a head case, has produced well on occasion, and this year has been so abnormal in many respects. Let’s give him an offseason to work out with the team and perfect his craft. If the Raiders don’t retain Agholor next year, Ruggs will likely be the #1 WR on this team going into next year and the we can make the call on him at the end of next season.

    1. Thanks for the thoughtful response. You’re right, the Raiders haven’t maximized Ruggs’ skill set and want him to fit in their scheme instead of adapting and making him a part of the game plan.

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