There are very few times in my life I've been overly certain of something, and this is one of those moments.
Nothing felt like a sure-fire bet more than the Las Vegas Raiders selecting a wide receiver with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, and General Manager Mike Mayock and Head Coach Jon Gruden didn't disappoint.
The newest member of the Silver and Black is the talented playmaker out of the University of Alabama, Henry Ruggs III.
For months now, Ruggs and several other wide receivers were linked to the Raiders given the team's need for a WR1. The 2017 College Football Champion brings an impressive skill set to Gruden's offense, where he'll be asked to learn every route tree, take ownership of the wide receiver room, and help make an immediate impact in Las Vegas.
During the Combine, Mayock addressed what's imperative to him when he's evaluating wide receivers entering the league, and it's essential that they have a vast knowledge of the route tree, which Ruggs has.
While we've been able to predict and assume that the Raiders would select a wide receiver with the first of their two first-round picks, it was a coin flip as to whether it would be Ruggs, his teammate Jerry Jeudy, or CeeDee Lamb out of the University of Oklahoma. This is one of the deepest wide receiver classes in recent memory, but Ruggs can take the top off a defense and will scare opposing defenses in the league.
During his time at Alabama, Ruggs played with multiple quarterbacks — Tua Tagovailoa, Mac Jones, and Jalen Hurts — and while none of them are scrubs, he consistently found ways to get better each season. Each season, the 21-year-old improved in nearly every statistical category, finishing his career with 98 receptions, 1,716 yards, and 24 touchdowns.
Ruggs has several strengths, such as his big-play ability at all three levels of the field, ability to change tempo during his routes and catch defensive backs off guard, great awareness working back to the ball, can contort his body to make contested catches, and was arguably the fastest wide receiver in college football.
Last season, the Raiders had 10 wide receivers catch a pass and collectively they totaled 1,858 yards. Fortunately, tight end Darren Waller played a crucial role in the receiving game and racked up 1,145 yards on his own, but less than 2,000 yards between 10 receivers won't cut it going forward; however, there's plenty of talent in the group and optimism going forward, but addressing the skill position was a must for Mayock and Gruden.
With the addition of Ruggs, the Raiders now have eight wideouts on the active roster: Ruggs, Tyrell Williams, Nelson Agholor, Marcell Ateman, Rico Gafford, Zay Jones, Anthony Ratliff-Williams, and Hunter Renfrow.
After signing Williams — a solid WR2 — during free agency last season and stealing Hunter Renfrow in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the team added Agholor via free agency and improved the depth of the group.
If you're a member of Raider Nation, you have to be excited about the addition of Ruggs and the future of this group.
With the 12th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Las Vegas Raiders select wide receiver Henry Ruggs III.