The Las Vegas Raiders finally managed to address the lack of firepower in the receiving corps by taking Henry Ruggs III out of Alabama with the 12th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Ruggs turned heads when he followed up a stellar college career with the Crimson Tide by running the fastest 40-yard dash during the Scouting Combine at 4.27. It is safe to say that this helped boost his draft stock tremendously since the restrictions were placed by the NFL in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic soon thereafter.
Of course, Ruggs’ blazing speed was hardly the only factor that made him stand out in one of the deepest receiver classes in recent draft history. Alabama head coach Nick Saban is one of the few people that are already familiar with his other defining traits.
Saban praised Ruggs for both his mental and physical approach to the game, via Scott Bair of NBC Sports:
“It’s the mental and physical toughness,” Saban said in an interview posted Tuesday. “He never complains about not getting the ball. He’ll do whatever you ask him to do, whether he has to block on a running play or an RPO or whatever it is.
“What I think people aren’t talking about is the mental and physical toughness that the guy has.”
Saban added that there is no shortage of areas where he will be able to contribute for Las Vegas in the 2020 NFL season and beyond:
“He’s a hard worker and a guy with great character who is a very explosive and talented guy,” Saban said. “He has great speed and is a good special teams player, which is unusual sometimes. He’s a receiver who can play gunner and is in on kickoffs. He has a lot of mental and physical toughness to him relative to the position.
“I think he’s what you would categorize as a speed receiver who can get on top of people running straight line routes, but he drops his weight and gets out of breaks pretty good, too.”
There had been plenty of speculation regarding which of the “Big 3” wideouts that the Raiders would go with after they were all still on the board at No. 12. Although Ruggs was pegged as perhaps the most high-risk, high-reward receiver between teammate Jerry Jeudy and Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, it is clear that his upside was too much for general manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden to pass on.
Meanwhile, Saban can take solace in the fact that he managed to pump out another successful class for his program at Alabama. It is clear that their talent and championship pedigree played an integral role in helping Ruggs and Jeudy become the first two receivers taken in the draft.