'Why Henry Ruggs III?'
He is undoubtedly the most divisive pass catcher in this deep & talented 2020 class.
Henry Ruggs III's world-class athleticism was on full display at the NFL Combine, but why else are NFL evaluators enamored with him besides the physical traits?
1 - Physicality & through contact capabilities
What stands out with Ruggs besides his jaw-dropping speed, is his willingness to initiate contact.
For a player less than 190lbs, he boasts high levels of functional strength.
Something to note is that his acceleration capabilities are an aid during collisions, especially once he gets a head of steam.
There is a fluid, controlled nature to Ruggs’ overall game that even shows up during collisions.
Ruggs is instinctive & intelligent as a ball carrier and fights for extra yards consistently.
While I do not believe Ruggs will be running through defenders at the next level, he consistently displays an understanding of how to navigate contact types.
This is especially important if an NFL team plans on deploying Ruggs over the middle.
It's one thing to take contact well, it's another to show a fearlessness when delivering it.
Ruggs is much more physical than he seems, which is one of the areas that leads to him being mislabeled.
With the caliber of speed Ruggs possesses we often don't see players with similar abilities exhibit the same physical, aggressive nature that Ruggs has in his game.
2 - Success on manufactured touches
The ‘threat’ of Ruggs as a downfield presence will lead to opportunities to manufacture touches for him around the line of scrimmage.
Many of the best deep threats in the league cannot capitalize on manufactured touches like Ruggs can.
Ruggs not only has elite top-end speed, but also shows great field awareness with the ball in his hands.
Watch how Ruggs bends into a curve-linear pattern at around the 45 yard line to negate pursuit.
Ruggs has a 'calmness’ to his sprint mechanics that makes it incredibly difficult to gauge a proper pursuit angle.
Historically, when it comes to play speed Ruggs is part of a short list of ball carriers.
He's in a conversation with names like Chris Johnson & Tyreek Hill.
Ruggs doesn't have an abrupt lateral skill set.
But, like I mentioned before, he is an efficient mover, who has excellent field awareness that helps him navigate through traffic as a ball carrier.
3 - Play speed
Post-catch there isn't a more rapid accelerator in this class than Ruggs.
Besides how quickly he gets to his spot on this 'post corner' you can't help, but be impressed by how easily he separates from the defender after regaining his balance.
NFL defenses will have to respect Ruggs’ top-end speed & acceleration capabilities by giving their corners the necessary cushion to prevent them from getting beat vertically.
This is how he makes an immediate impact at the NFL level.
The 'threat' of Henry Ruggs III will open up opportunities in the short & intermediate areas for both Ruggs and his future teammates.
Defensive coordinators are going to have fits game-planning for his type of speed.
4 - Proficiency in contested catch situations
Often times we view players with similar athletic traits as having questionable hands and lacking capabilities in contested catch situations.
Ruggs presents a sure-handed target for his quarterback and a willingness to fight through contact to secure difficult catches.
Again, Ruggs has clear field stretching capabilities, but has a wide ranging skill set that is more advanced than first glance provides.
It is evident that Ruggs was trusted to make plays at all three levels of the field & can become a capable red-zone presence for an NFL offense.
5 - In-air athleticism
Ruggs is an explosive leaper, and has the body control to win in situations similar to this.
He can control, contort & extend away from his body to make catches that present a high degree of difficulty.
This is an underrated, and surprising aspect to Ruggs' game.
We see flashes of Henry Ruggs the ‘acrobat’ from time to time, and it’s extremely fun to watch.
Ruggs combines his explosive athleticism with unique ‘in-air’ abilities that will allow him to make adjustments to balls that would otherwise be uncatchable.
6 - Efficiency during outside releases
Impressed with how he is able to match the physicality of #23 & throw him by on his way back to the football.
Ruggs also has underrated 'stop-start' qualities.
Remember: 'A Ferrari needs great breaks, when you have that type of engine'
Ruggs appears more comfortable when working his releases towards the boundary.
He does a nice job transitioning out of the top of his routes to work back towards the middle of the field.
He also has the ability to quickly stack defensive backs with how sudden he is as an accelerator.
7 - Difficulty separating off an inside release
An area that Ruggs appears inconsistent is in finishing plays when he gets an inside release.
Ruggs has the separation quickness to beat defenders to his spot, but has a hard time finishing these plays with regularity.
Corners will look to get their hands on him early in hopes of disrupting the timing of his patterns.
8 - Landing spot: Las Vegas Raiders
Henry Ruggs III walks into a situation in Las Vegas where targets and their quality may be inconsistent. In addition to adding Ruggs, the Raiders also added Bryan Edwards & Lynn Bowden Jr. to fill their offense full of legitimate playmakers. It is clear that Gruden & Mayock are fond of Ruggs and the element he adds to a new look Raiders offense. The quarterback play is the big question. 2020 may be a bit murky to predict any sort of consistency with Ruggs, but come 2021 there will more than likely be a new signal caller for the Las Vegas Raiders.
9 - 'Who is Henry Ruggs III?'
With Henry Ruggs III you are getting as dynamic a playmaker as there is who will most likely make a greater impact on the field of play than in fantasy lineups. While I do think he will surprise some people with how he can potentially contribute to an offense, I do not think he will get the target volume to be a "set it and forget it" type of receiver.
In the right situation however, we can see a role similar to that of Tyreek Hill in Kansas City. Realistically, Ruggs is a bit similar to T.Y. Hilton when he was playing with Andrew Luck. As far as his ceiling, Ruggs has week-winning upside attached to him, but his floor may be too inconsistent for some to tolerate.
Ruggs is more than your traditional field-stretcher. He has the talent to be a Pro-bowl caliber player.
The question is, will the offense he is attached to afford him that opportunity?
Elite play speed
Inexperience facing press coverage