Rookie Rundown: WR Henry Ruggs III, Alabama

Rookie Rundown: WR Henry Ruggs III, Alabama

Fantasy football player analysis tips and advice

Rookie Rundown: WR Henry Ruggs III, Alabama

By

Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Speed.

Speed.

Speed.

This is the sort of wide receiver that Al Davis would have moved up in the draft to acquire. As it is, Henry Ruggs is expected to be the third wideout selected this year though not the first from Alabama (Jerry Jeudy). Ruggs’ 4.27-40 time was the best from the 2020 NFL Combine and tied for third-best of all time. There is no question – Ruggs is very, very fast.

In a matchup with South Carolina, he was clocked at 24.3 MPH on an 81-yard touchdown catch-and-run. That’s faster than any receiver has been timed in the NFL. Last year in the NFL, the fastest play was 22.3 MPG by Matt Breida on his 83-yard touchdown run. The fastest so far has been Tyreek Hill (23.24 MPH) in 2016 when the league began recording the measurement. He was recorded a full mile-per-hour than Hill. So speed – not a problem.

The former five-star recruit was highly-coveted out of high school (as are all Alabama players) and not surprisingly set the Alabama state record for 100-meter dash (10.38). The Crimson Tide doesn’t throw the ball a lot and yet Ruggs scored six times as a freshman to lead all receivers including Calvin Ridley.

As a sophomore, he increased his role as the deep threat and scored 11 times on his 46 catches for 741 yards while Jeudy became the next Ridley with 68 receptions. As a junior, he fell back a bit with only 40 catches and seven scores but quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was lost during the season.

Height: 5-11
Weight: 188 pounds
40 time: 4.27 seconds

While teammate Jeudy and Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb are considered locks to be the first two wideouts drafted for 2020, Ruggs is a consensus No. 3 and can immediately fit into an NFL offense as the deep threat.

Year Games Catch Yards Avg. TD Runs Yards. TD Total Yards Total TDs
2017 14 12 229 19.1 6 0 0 0 229 19.1
2018 14 46 741 16.1 11 0 0 0 741 11
2019 12 40 746 18.7 7 2 75 1 821 8

Pros

  • The fastest player on the field
  • Averaged 17.5 yards per catch at Alabama
  • Bigger size than most speedsters, can absorb contact
  • Elite acceleration and burst
  • Great hands that can pluck the ball from the air
  • Flashes hands at last second for the catch
  • Tremendous athleticism
  • Tracks and adjusts to the ball well, even while dealing with a defender
  • Capable blocker with an aggressive willingness
  • Offers kick-off return duties
  • High “Run After Catch” no matter where he catches the ball

Cons

  • Could struggle against NFL-quality jams
  •  Less experienced with only 98 catches over three years.
  •  Won’t break many tackles
  • Was never the primary receiver in college

Fantasy outlook

Ruggs is more than just a jaw-dropping blur running down the sideline (though he can be that). He is capable of short and intermediate routes as well and he has that rare burst that can leave defenders grasping at air. He is not a physical receiver that is going to go over the middle and bull his way for more yardage. But he is more than just another fast wideout and that’s a very notable positive.

NFL history is littered with speed merchants that just never really translated into much when they reached the league. John Ross of the Bengals owns the NFL combine record of 4.22 seconds on the 40-yard dash. He’s never caught more than 28 passes in any of his three seasons. Dri Archer, Marquise Goodwin, Jacoby Ford, and J.J. Nelson all turned in sub-4.3 40-times and yet did not benefit much from their physical advantage.

Ruggs can offer kick returns from the start. He totaled 25 returns in college and averaged 21.0 yards though he never scored on special teams. He can be used as the occasional runner on a trick play as he was last season when his two carries totaled 75 yards and one score. He is a player that you want to get the ball so long as he is in the open field.

He is not likely to become a primary wideout for an NFL team, at least not at first. He’ll likely spend his first season or two as that deep threat that must be respected, so he needs to land with a team that has a good quarterback and scheme. Ideally, on a team that already has a stud wideout that attracts the attention of the secondary.

To his credit, his lower volume of receptions in college is mostly due to playing for the Crimson Tide who usually led on the scoreboard (sometimes significantly so) and that did not have to throw the ball nearly as much as most teams. If he is paired with one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL, Ruggs could blossom even as a rookie. There is no question that he’s a much-feared deep threat. What is less proven is what he can do on an offense that throws the ball often and that isn’t leading their opponent by 50 points in the third quarter.

THE LATEST

More Huddle
Home