There was a lot of hype surrounding Henry Ruggs heading into last season. The wide receiver has blistering speed and was the first player taken at the position in the loaded 2020 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, he got off to a rocky start with the Las Vegas Raiders. He missed three games early in the season due to injury and never became a consistent playmaker.
Many are ready to give up on him despite all the promise he showed in college but the Raiders still have big expectations for Ruggs. The team has been linked in trade talks for Julio Jones. Perhaps Ruggs could be a piece that the Atlanta Falcons might like in return if they decide to trade the star wide receiver. However, the Raiders have no intention of trading Ruggs, according to ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez.
“The Raiders have roughly $6 million in cap space and still have to sign a majority of their draft class,” Gutierrez wrote. “Plus, while Jones would be an upgrade over anyone in its receiver room, Las Vegas is committed to Henry Ruggs III taking the next step. He is next to untouchable, and you figure the Falcons would want him in a trade.”
If the Raiders aren’t willing to trade Ruggs for a proven superstar like Jones, that means they have a lot of confidence in what he could be in the near future.
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Raiders Need Ruggs to Step up in 2021
Last year, the Raiders’ No. 1 wide receiver ended up being Nelson Agholor. They couldn’t afford to retain him in the offseason so they need a new No. 1 to step up. The logical pick would be Ruggs. Las Vegas invested a very valuable draft pick in him and they need him to be a stud.
While 2020 was concerning, there should still be hope he can be a big part of the offense in 2021. He’s got elite speed that you can’t teach and has a good set of hands. What Ruggs is lacking is route running ability. He needs to do more than just run in a straight line and hope to outrun the defense. If he can improve his route running, he’s going to be a major problem for defenses to solve.
Ruggs Could Be Raiders’ Most Important Offensive Player
On the Raiders offense, there are plenty of good players. We know that Derek Carr is going to be solid and that Kenyan Drake and Josh Jacobs are going to form an elite running back duo. Darren Waller is a top-three tight end in the NFL and should only get better.
The offensive line is a bit of concern but Tom Cable has worked magic with the group before. The offensive line will be far from bad this despite some question the Raiders’ offseason moves.
The most important position group to watch for the Raiders’ offense this season is wide receiver. That could make Ruggs the team’s most important player. We know the other position groups are going to be solid. However, we don’t know that about the wide receiver. Hunter Renfrow is a great slot receiver and John Brown is an elite deep threat, but neither of them are No. 1 guys. For the Raiders’ offense to take the next step, they need Ruggs to turn into a true No. 1.