The Las Vegas Raiders had high hopes for Henry Ruggs III when they made him the first wide receiver taken in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Ruggs’ 4.27 40-yard dash had set him apart from his fellow wideouts and proved to be the deciding factor for head Coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock to take him with the No. 12 pick. The prospect of having a deep threat of his caliber was simply too good to pass up on.
Unfortunately, the Raiders have struggled to get him involved much in the offense on a consistent basis. With only one game left in the 2020 NFL season, they have run out of time to remedy an otherwise disappointing rookie campaign.
Ruggs has largely taken a backseat to tight end Darren Waller and wide receiver Nelson Agholor in the passing game for quarterback Derek Carr. Gruden feels the lack of practice time has held him back from etching out a larger role for himself, via Josh Schrock of Yahoo Sports:
“Well, Ruggs has been sick for 10 days; he just showed up Friday,” Gruden said. “We didn’t know if he was going to play, so that had something to do with it. Right now, just so we’re all on the same page, we’re targeting Waller and doing a pretty good job of that. We’re targeting Nelson Agholor because those are our top-two guys and we’re targeting Josh Jacobs. Ruggs has got to practice, stay with us longer and he’s got to do more with his targets and when he does he’ll see the ball more.”
Ruggs currently has 23 receptions for 414 yards and two touchdowns going into the season finale versus the Denver Broncos. His underwhelming numbers are even more glaring since they pale in comparison to some of the other wideouts that came after him in the draft such as Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb and Brandon Aiyuk.
Gruden’s comments indicate that Ruggs’ overall limited activity in practice throughout the course of the season has limited his opportunities to earn the kind of trust needed to become a focal point in the offense. Either way, it is still a knock on the coaching staff for being unable to find a way to properly utilize his skill set to help this group kick things up a notch.
The Raiders are looking to end the year on somewhat of a high note by beating the Broncos. It will be interesting to see if Ruggs is able to do the same from an individual standpoint.