The Las Vegas Raiders had high hopes for the promising class they had assembled in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock have since made it no secret that this group fell vastly short of expectations during their 8-8 finish in the 2020 NFL season. Headlining this class of underwhelming production was none other than wide receiver Henry Ruggs III.
Ruggs failed to find his footing as a rookie with just 26 catches for 452 yards and two touchdowns in 13 games. Despite showing some glimpses of being a bonafide playmaker, it was hardly enough to fit the billing as the first wide receiver taken off the board.
Ruggs acknowledged that the 2020 campaign was not his finest work, per Tashan Reed of The Athletic:
“I’m just disappointed,” Ruggs said. “I feel like I definitely could’ve had a better year. I mean, the plays I made, I had a couple of ’em. That’s what kept me from being at a ‘F.’ It’s a lot more that I could’ve done and I feel like I should do. In years to come, that has to get better.”
Although this year did not go as planned, Ruggs still feels there is plenty for him to build on:
“I showed that I can be a playmaker,” Ruggs said. “I had splashes of some big plays and things that people didn’t expect out of me, but I just have to be more consistent in making those plays and making something out of nothing.”
It is certainly encouraging to see Ruggs take accountability for his lack of development throughout the course of his debut season. Fortunately, he has good reason to be optimistic considering his two touchdown grabs came during the team’s most thrilling wins of the season.
Ruggs did not have the benefit of working through a full training camp due to the unprecedented nature of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Regardless, his numbers still paled in comparison to that of the other notable rookie wideouts such as Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb and Justin Jefferson.
The Raiders picked Ruggs because he was the fastest player in his draft but they could not get it to translate on a consistent basis. It will be interesting to see if a full offseason with a newfound emphasis on strength and route-running is going be enough for a potential resurgence in the 2021 NFL season.