If Al Davis were still alive, everybody in the world would’ve known who the Las Vegas Raiders were going to draft with their first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. While the team hasn’t focused as much on speed over the last several years, they decided to go back to their roots and selected Henry Ruggs. The former Alabama wide receiver was the fastest player in the draft and the Raiders had a huge need at the position.
Going after speed hasn’t always worked out for the silver and black, but owner Mark Davis wanted Ruggs as he reminded him of one of the great Raiders wide receivers ever.
“Henry Ruggs was the player I wanted for the last six months,” Davis said, per Vic Tafur of The Athletic. “My dad was always trying to replace Cliff [Branch] with so many different types of guys. … Speed, speed, speed and we really got away from that the last five, six, seven years. We really didn’t have anybody that could run. Nobody could run.”
Well, that will no longer be the case for the Raiders as they now have arguably the fastest player in the NFL on their roster.
Davis Continues Praise for Ruggs
“I watched Henry Ruggs and his speed and quickness and his strength were pretty impressive. And then if you see his baseball highlights, my God. He made some nice tackles on interceptions and he’ll block too. He is a complete player. I was just so thrilled that we drafted him. Maybe that’s the piece that we haven’t had that’s Raiders football. You throw it deep the first play and the safety is worried the whole game.”
The Raiders have definitely gotten away from throwing the deep ball, which is strange considering Derek Carr has a cannon for an arm. Whether it’s Carr’s fault or just a lack of talent at wide receiver should become clear this season. Ruggs is a legitimate deep threat the Raiders need to utilize him properly.
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Will Ruggs Help Open up Raider Offense?
Last offseason, the Raiders were very excited about the prospects of their wide receiver corps. They had the best wide receiver in the NFL in Antonio Brown and signed Tyrell Williams to a big contract. Unfortunately, Brown never played a down with the team, and Williams was hurt for most of the year. The offense was efficient but very bland at times. They lacked a serious homerun hitter.
Whether the blandness of the offense had to with lack of weapons or lack of creativity remains to be seen. Head coach Jon Gruden was quick to blame the loss of Brown for some of the offense’s struggles last season. As long as Ruggs plays, there shouldn’t be any excuses. Carr and Gruden have a dynamic playmaker that they can build plays around. It should be very telling early on how the Raiders decide to use Ruggs. Don’t be surprised if the first play of the 2020 season is meant to get the ball in Ruggs’ hands.