It seems like every year there is at least one polarizing player that provokes the whole gamut of human emotion. This year, that player seems to be Henry Ruggs III from Alabama. He is currently my WR4 in rookie drafts with potential to surpass this ranking, and the following outlines why I believe my ranking is justified.

Henry Ruggs
College Football: Alabama Henry Ruggs III (11) in action vs Arkansas State at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Tuscaloosa, AL 9/8/2018 CREDIT: Kevin Liles (Photo by Kevin Liles /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images) (Set Number: X162133 TK1 )

Henry Ruggs: Current May Rookie ADP (according to data at dynastyleaguefootball.com): 10.50

Henry Ruggs Overall April 1QB ADP (according to data at dynastyleaguefootball.com): 74.67

My Top 10 Rookie 1QB Rankings

  1. Jonathan Taylor, RB, IND
  2. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, KCC
  3. DeAndre Swift, RB, DET
  4. CeeDee Lamb, WR, DAL
  5. JK Dobbins, RB, BAL
  6. Jerry Jeudy, WR, DEN
  7. Justin Jefferson, WR, MIN
  8. Henry Ruggs III, WR, LVR
  9. Cam Akers, RB, LAR
  10. Jalen Reagor, WR, PHI

Collegiate Stats

SchoolYearGamesRecYardsYPCTDDom. Rating
Alabama2017141222919.16
Alabama2018144674116.111
Alabama2019124074618.7716.83%

*stats taken from www.sports-reference.com

**Dominator Rating taken from www.devywatch.com 

Combine Test Results

HeightWeight40 YdBenchBroad JumpShuttle3 ConeVertical
5’11”1884.27x131xx42

*stats taken from www.pro-football-reference.com 

Henry Ruggs notably ran the fastest 40 yard dash time of any player in the 2020 combine. According to Player Profiler, Ruggs is in the 90th percentile for overall speed scoring and 98th percentile for burst. He also was 5th amongst wide receivers in the broad jump and T-2nd in the vertical jump which further highlights his explosive athleticism.

Film Review

Henry Ruggs
TUSCALOOSA, AL – SEPTEMBER 21: Henry Ruggs III #11 of the Alabama Crimson Tide runs for a 45-yard touchdown in the first quarter after catching a pass behind D.Q. Thomas #12 of the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 21, 2019 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

One of the first things that pop on tape is his unbelievable speed. There seems to be a misconception with Henry Ruggs that he is a “track guy” or a “vertical threat,” and many analysts send him tumbling down their rankings out of fear he is next in a long line of players with elite speed who fail at the NFL level. However, one thing that differentiates Ruggs for me is that he ran a more expansive route tree at Alabama than given credit for. He was not a “go-route” or bust option, and this was very apparent on film. A good example of his diverse routes were displayed in the 2019 Alabama vs. Auburn or the 2019 Alabama vs. South Carolina games. I think he is a threat on screens or quick slants, and defensive backs have to respect his speed on the LOS and play off a bit, especially if they lack explosive traits themselves. Ruggs can be pressed at the line and thrown off a route, so his physicality needs to improve. However, if he beats them, because he does has fluid hips and nuance in his footwork, his speed will create a wide open look for his quarterback. It is important to understand that he gets to that position due to his fluidity in routes paired with speed–not just speed alone. 

The first play of the 2019 New Mexico game, Alabama designed a play for Ruggs for an end around, and he was targeted on a screen behind the LOS and took it 75 yards for a touchdown. Henry Ruggs has a ton of creativity in the open field which pairs nicely again with his speed. The scary part is this is an area of his game that can continue to grow with more designed plays to get him involved. Alabama had a ton of talent in Jeudy, Waddle, Devonta, and Najee Harris that Ruggs’ talent was not consistently showcased. 

An underrated skill set for Ruggs is his contact balance and body control in traffic. The 2019 South Carolina and 2019 Arkansas games featured these skills for me. I like that he can weave in and out of defenders, and when pushed he can still maintain his route, relative to his size. As mentioned, he will need to get stronger especially to beat press coverage more consistently.  

I like my wide receiver prospects to be aggressive in all phases of the position and this includes blocking. Fantasy points are not accrued by a block, but what this shows me is that he wants to be out on the field with his teammates. Ruggs is aggressive in his blocks and plays hard until the whistle blows. This may seem like a trivial attribute for fantasy, but that type of effort is consistently witnessed on tape. That 2019 Auburn game has some nice blocks from Ruggs. 

Landing Spot

The landing spot with the Raiders is fascinating. He was drafted by a team who did not possess a top-tier WR talent prior to the draft, and he has the opportunity to take the alpha role and run with it. I would be foolish not to mention the impact of Bryan Edwards, who in his own right has the talent to be the Raiders WR1, but I think these players can capitalize on their strengths and be successful simultaneously. Looking back at Gruden offenses as a head coach, he had at least one 1,000 yard receiver in every year he coached except 2018 when Amari Cooper was traded after 6 games played to the Dallas Cowboys. In 2001, Gruden helped facilitate two 1,000 yard receivers in Tim Brown and Jerry Rice, which is notable that two stars can succeed in his offense. The game has evolved rapidly since then, but Gruden manufactured ways to get lesser known players like Darren Waller to reach the 1,000 yard milestone. With the Raiders emphasizing offense in 2020 with the picks of Ruggs, Edwards, and Bowden, Gruden could be preparing for more pass attempts in an offense that had 523 passing attempts in 2019 (only 3.68 attempts per game less than KC). Simply put, Ruggs has a clear path for 90 targets in year 1. That opportunity for a player who has a dynamic ability to score from anywhere on the field is enticing. 

Henry Ruggs
AUBURN, ALABAMA – NOVEMBER 30: Henry Ruggs III #11 of the Alabama Crimson Tide pulls in this touchdown reception against the Auburn Tigers in the first half at Jordan Hare Stadium on November 30, 2019 in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Rookie Impact

As I mentioned, I see a clear path for 90 targets for Ruggs in year one. If we project Ruggs to catch 60% of the 90 receptions, that equates to 54 receptions. Due to his ability to extend plays, break coverage, I will use 16.0 Y/R (yards per reception) as a baseline (would have been 12th overall in 2019 for WR), this totals 864 receiving yards. These numbers, in my opinion, are obtainable and something I think he has the ability to surpass as a rookie. Going forward, I think his success is not only sustainable, but I think he can grow into a low-end fantasy WR1 for several years. Do not let recency bias of failed “speedsters” deter you from grabbing an impact receiver who has the skills to be a star. 


My Rookie Stat Projection: 54/864/6

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