Draft season is officially here, Ravens fans! Although the Ravens failed to make a Super Bowl run despite all of the hype and promise surrounding the team, it was evident during their divisional matchup against the Titans that the Ravens are only a few pieces away from making that Super Bowl dream a tangible reality.
The Titans exposed the Ravens’ lack of wide receiver talent when Lamar Jackson was forced to throw the ball fifty-nine times in the game. Besides the playmaking ability of Marquise Brown, who played exceptionally well in the game, receivers such as Seth Roberts and Willie Snead IV fell victim to multiple drops and failed to deliver when the team needed them most.
With all of this being said, the Ravens have plenty of draft capital to invest in talent that could make the team even better than it was last year. That is why a player like Alabama WR Henry Ruggs III would be an ideal fit for the Ravens’ offense while fitting the play style of Lamar Jackson.
Alabama WR Henry Ruggs III
Height: 6’0 Weight: 190 lbs
Stats: 40 catches, 746 yards, 7 TDs, 18.6 YPC
Although Ruggs’ stats may not scream “future NFL star,” he has the ability to be a special player in the pros. With Ruggs being a part of one of the best wide receiving groups (featuring Jerry Jeudy, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle) in recent college football history, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Ruggs doesn’t have the stats reminiscent of a star wide receiver. Albeit, Ruggs has a number of impressive strengths as well as some notable weaknesses that I will introduce.
- Ruggs has world class speed that no cornerback in the NFL can match
- Ruggs is the top candidate to break John Ross’ 4.22 40 yard dash record at the NFL Scouting Combine this February
- Very few cornerbacks can win against Ruggs when given a free release off of the snap; getting hands on Ruggs would be the only way of slowing him down
- In the next level, to account for his speed, Ruggs will always command safety help when on the field
- Such help would allow for slot receivers and tight ends to operate in single coverage where the advantage is undoubtedly on their side
- Ruggs has very solid hands, he repeatedly showcased his ability to highpoint the football and pluck it out of the air
- Ruggs has the ability to score anytime he touches the ball
- Ruggs has a relatively sturdy build unlike other speedy receivers; he should be a durable player in the pros
- Ruggs isn’t the type of player to shy away from contact; he has the ability to bounce off of tacklers and gain more yardage after the catch
- Ruggs’ speed and quick feet allow him to defeat press coverage on most occasions
- Ruggs is a well-balanced player; he is very good at keeping his feet after initial contact from the defender
- Ruggs demonstrates tremendous body control when the ball is in the air; he is capable of leaping over the defender, contorting his body towards the ball, maintaining his balance after the catch, and continuing to gain yardage after the catch
- Ruggs displays great subtlety in his route running, especially on deep routes
- Throughout the 2019 season, Ruggs always kept cornerbacks guessing and biting on his routes, which freed him on deep balls time after time
- Ruggs is more of a body catcher than a hands catcher
- Ruggs has the habit of letting balls come to him rather than attacking it with his hands
- Ruggs has an underdeveloped route tree
- Alabama’s offense is designed in a way to play to their wide receivers’ strengths, which gives reason to Ruggs’ inexperience when running certain routes
- In that respect, Ruggs was mainly used to run screens, jet sweeps, deep posts, and go routes
- With Jerry Jeudy being the route mechanic and DeVonta Smith being the possession receiver, Ruggs was used as the game-breaker (and he was tasked to run the routes that gave him the best chance to be that game-breaker)
- Ruggs may have early trouble facing experienced press coverage cornerbacks in the NFL
- Although he is bigger than Marquise Brown, he doesn't have the same agility Brown does when facing press coverage
Henry Ruggs III Floor Player Comparison: Mecole Hardman
Henry Ruggs III Ceiling Player Comparison: Tyreek Hill
How Ruggs fits on the Ravens:
If the Ravens, given their current #28 first-round draft slot, had the chance to land Ruggs, he would be a home-run pick. Pairing Ruggs, Jackson, and Brown in the same offense would give the Ravens the scariest offense in the NFL. Much like what the Chiefs did with Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman, the Ravens could do the exact same with Ruggs and Brown along with the added element of Jackson’s legs.
With Ruggs and Brown being two of the fastest players in the NFL, at least one safety would be taken out of the play every time both players are on the field. By simply taking players that specialize in coverage out of the play, Jackson would have plenty of targets in single coverage. Mark Andrews, Nick Boyle, and Hayden Hurst would find themselves open intermediately on a repeated basis when both Ruggs and Brown are on the field. At the same time, Jackson could decide to put up points in a hurry and stretch the field whenever he wants. The addition of Ruggs would allow for the Ravens to move the ball and put up points much easier than they did this past season. The addition of Ruggs would put the team one step closer towards the coveted Lombardi Trophy.