Due to his excellent first four years in the NFL, Tyreek Hill has become the gold standard for speedy wide receivers. While taking speedy wide receivers early in the draft has often backfired on teams, the Las Vegas Raiders are hoping they found the exception in Henry Ruggs. Heading into his rookie season, Ruggs has often been compared to Hill thanks to their speed. It’s certainly lofty to think that the former Alabama wide receiver will match the four-time Pro Bowlers production, but he thinks it’s a fair comparison.
“I feel like it shows that people have faith in me and know that I can do similar things to what he’s done … it shows that I’m more than just a speed guy and I can actually do different things on the field,” said Ruggs about the Hill comparison on Speak for Yourself.
Ruggs and the Raiders will get plenty of chances to see how the two compare to each other as they will play the Kansas City Chiefs twice this season. It’s clear Jon Gruden wanted his own version of Hill, but it will take some time to know if that’s Ruggs’ ceiling.
Is Ruggs Better Than Hill Was Coming out of College?
Coming out of college, Hill didn’t have a ton of hype due to off the field issues. The Chiefs took a chance on him in the fifth round of the 2016 draft and he immediately rewarded them for their risk. He’s been a Pro Bowler every season of his career. While that’s very impressive, some scouts believe that Ruggs is better than Hill was coming out of college.
“He has a chance to be special because he’s got the rare trait of speed,” said a scout, per Bob McGinn of The Athletic. “But he’s not a one-trick pony. He’s not Ted Ginn, he’s not Darrius Heyward-Bey. He’s not just an outside-the-numbers guy. He’s super athletic (vertical jump of 42), he can run every route. He’s extremely tough. When you talk to the people in Tuscaloosa, he’s the most competitive kid in the program. You want to draft playmakers, and he’s got a chance to be a great playmaker. He’s a significantly better player coming out than Tyreek Hill was.”
Scouting reports like that must keep Gruden up at night trying to figure creative ways to utilize him. The Raiders have often drafted players just because they run fast and it’s blown up in their face before. However, based on what scouts are saying, it doesn’t sound like drafting Ruggs was a mistake. The team should know pretty quickly if they made the right call by making him the first wide receiver selected in a loaded class.
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Some Scouts Don’t See Hill Comparison
It’s easy to look at Ruggs and believe he’s the next Hill, but not everybody thinks that.
“Does that guy turn into Brandin Cooks or Ted Ginn?” said another scout, per McGinn. “Often, when teams try to make (speedsters) into more than they are, they struggle. He may turn into more than that. We’ll see. I don’t see Tyreek Hill.”
Ruggs doesn’t necessarily have to turn into Hill to be successful in the NFL. A career similar to Cooks’ wouldn’t be disappointing. He’s put up over 1,000 receiving yards in four of the six seasons he’s played. The idea that Ruggs is just Hill 2.0 is very exciting, but it’s not a given. That said, even if Ruggs looks more like Cooks or DeSean Jackson, the Raiders will be happy with what they got.