Raiders

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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