That sound you hear is music to Dak Prescott’s ears.
According to Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Dallas Cowboys have completed a virtual interview with Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs, arguably the top pass-catcher in the upcoming NFL draft class.
“So add him to the list of options at 17,” Hill wrote.
An explosive threat each time he touches the football, Ruggs was a phenom for the Crimson Tide, forming a truly deadly duo alongside Jerry Jeudy, another slam-dunk first-round prospect.
Although Ruggs finished his collegiate career with only 98 catches for 1,716 yards and 24 receiving scores, roughly a quarter of his nabs went for touchdowns. He averaged a whopping 19.1 yards-per-grab as a 2017 true freshman and 18.7 YPC as a junior in 2019.
Ruggs boosted his already surging stock at February’s Scouting Combine, where he blazed a 4.27 forty time and recorded a 42-inch vertical jump. At 5-foot-11, 188 pounds with 30.5-inch arms and 10 1/8-inch hands, he’s entrenched as a Day 1 selection.
But opinions vary on the 21-year-old. Some see John Ross 2.0 — that is, a one-dimensional WR with high bust potential — while others believe he’s the next Tyreek Hill.
“I think he’s going to absolutely fly,” NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah said of Ruggs in February, via USA Today. “Everybody knows it’s coming. He’s still going to do it. I think the second number will be a 2. I don’t know what the third number will be. But he’s the closest thing to Tyreek Hill that I’ve seen since Tyreek Hill entered the league. And just looked like he’s been on a different speed than everybody else. This kid does the same thing. He’s so sudden off the line of scrimmage. It’s instant death for corners. He’s just by them and it’s over. You can use him on the jet sweep stuff. You can use him on kickoff return. I love watching him as a gunner on punt. Shows just how tough he is…”
NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein is somewhere in the middle, comparing Ruggs to former first-rounder Ted Ginn Jr.
“Ruggs’ speed alone helps both the running and passing games because it forces safeties into more passive positioning,” Zierlein wrote in his scouting profile. “He can work all three levels and his ability to turn slants and crossing routes into big gainers could make him the favorite gift under the tree for a quarterback and offense in need of an explosive weapon. He has quick, sure hands to handle off-target throws, but learning to release, separate and catch against physical NFL cornerbacks could require an adjustment period. He won’t rack up the targets, but has explosive speed and talent to imprint on games with regularity.”
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Possible Fit in Dallas
There’s zero doubt that Ruggs would be a welcome addition to the Cowboys’ offense, for which he’d represent the third option behind $100 million man Amari Cooper and 2019 breakout star Michael Gallup. To say he’d be an upgrade on last season’s slot weapon, Randall Cobb, is a comically massive understatement.
But it’s a pipe dream, as there’s a slim-to-none chance he lasts until No. 17. If Ruggs escapes the top-10, he’s unlikely to get past the receiver-desperate Denver Broncos at 15. And it’s equally as improbable that Dallas would trade up for him, given their numerous roster needs (DL, LB, CB, S, C) which take precedent over luxury picks.
For what it’s worth, the Cowboys also held a virtual interview with TCU’s Jalen Reagor, who, although wildly talented in his own right, is considered a fringe Round 1 prospect. He’s a more realistic contingency should the club target a WR following a trade-down or perhaps on Day 2.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL