Throughout his career, it’s been clear that Derek Carr needs to trust a wide receiver before he starts giving them a lot of targets. Based on his rookie season, Carr hasn’t learned to fully trust Henry Ruggs quite yet. The 2020 first-round pick by the Las Vegas Raiders disappointed last season with only 26 catches. Nelson Agholor was the first wide receiver to gain Carr’s trust and had a big season.
However, it’s far too early to suggest that Ruggs won’t be a big part of the team’s offense going forward. During the season, he didn’t look like he could do much more than run in a straight line and try to blow the top off the defense. That’s a valuable skill set but a No. 1 wide receiver needs to do a lot more. While there are some concerns that he might not develop, Carr is very confident in Ruggs’ ability. In fact, David Carr, brother of Derek, made some very revealing comments about what the quarterback thinks of the young wideout.
“In practice, he’s the best player I’ve ever played with,” Carr said.
Carr has played with players like Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Darren Waller, Charles Woodson, Khalil Mack and other great talents. It could be an exaggeration to say that Ruggs is the best player he’s ever played with in practice but there’s no doubt he has all the talent in the world.
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Is Ruggs in for a Big Season?
After his rookie season, it seemed like many were ready to call Ruggs a bust. Despite that, the Raiders have never wavered in their support. In fact, ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez recently revealed that Ruggs is “untouchable” in a possible trade for Julio Jones.
If true, that’s showing supreme confidence in the young wide receiver. There’s no doubt that Ruggs wasn’t that impressive as a rookie. He made some big plays but they were few and far between. In 2021, he needs to be a consistent difference-maker and more than just a decoy to keep defenses honest. The fact that he’s getting a full offseason to further learn the Raiders’ offense and has been putting in a ton of work with Carr bodes well for his chances. Don’t be surprised if Ruggs is the team’s breakout star from the upcoming season.
Raiders Need to Get More Creative With Ruggs
Not all of Ruggs’s struggles were on him. The Raiders didn’t do a good enough job of getting him the ball and putting him in positions to succeed. According to Sportradar, Ruggs only caught two screen passes and zero passes on slant routes.
Ruggs is known for his speed and the Raiders need to utilize it. He should be getting targeted on screens and slants multiple times a game. There aren’t a ton of players in the NFL who are a touchdown threat every time they touch the ball. Ruggs can be one of those guys but he needs the ball in his hands to do it.