Everyone knows about Henry Ruggs III's speed, but what aspects of his game are people overlooking?
In an exclusive interview with University of Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban, Raiders.com's Eddie Paskal spoke with the one person who knows Ruggs' football prowess best. The Crimson Tide have churned out some of the best NFL players in recent memory, especially at the skill position. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who recognized star talent than Nick Saban and he offered Raider Nation his own insight on what they're getting in Ruggs.
"I think first of all you're getting a great person," Saban said. "You're getting a guy that's a great competitor, really hard worker, and a very, very explosive, talented guy. He's got great hands, great speed, he's a great special teams player, which is unusual sometimes for guys that play receiver. He's a gunner, he can cover kickoffs, and he's got a lot of mental and physical toughness about him — relative to the position."
The six-time national champion noted Ruggs speed as well, but I'm happy he pointed out his ability to impact special teams, and do the little things that help teams win games. As I've been saying since the Raiders drafted Ruggs, don't get caught up in the narrative that he's a one-trick pony. The 21-year-old is more than just a straight line runner and his versatility will be useful for Head Coach Jon Gruden and the Raiders coaching staff.
Nowadays people harp on whether or not prospects really love the game of football, or if they're in it for the fame. According to Saban, there' no disputing how far Ruggs is willing to go to win, support his teammates, and be successful overall.
"I think it's the mental and physical toughness," Saban said when asked what's the most overlooked part of Ruggs' game. "I mentioned that earlier, but he never complains about not getting the ball, glad to do whatever you ask him to do; whether that's blocking someone on a running play, or an RPO, or whatever it is. I think the thing people are talking about is the mental and physical toughness that he has."
With the 12th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Las Vegas Raiders select wide receiver Henry Ruggs III.
The Raiders have a deep offensive line that opened up plenty of running lanes last year for Josh Jacobs, but having an additional blocker downfield can make all the difference for the talented running back.
Ruggs and Jacobs played together at Alabama for two years and were able to accomplish some impressive feats together. I've mentioned before that the two will be able to feed off each other in 2020 and beyond, but Saban knows a thing or two more than I do about how the duo will help balance the Raiders' offense.
"Having balance on offense is always really important and I know that's something the Raiders believe in and how Jon [Gruden] is trying to build his program.
"I think they complement one another because if you really want to stop the run you have to put an extra guy in the box all the time, so you have to play single-high coverage, which leaves one-on-one coverage outside," he explained. "If you want to stop outside you have to play more split safety coverages, which means you don't have an extra guy in the box, so it's easier to run the ball. So, I think having guys like that, that complement one another is the probably beginning of really developing a really effective offense."
Take it from someone who coached the pair of dynamic playmakers for three seasons each, the Raiders are going to have an electrifying offense that keeps defensive coordinators on their toes, but more important the Silver and Black have draft a player from Alabama in back-to-back years with a love for the game and an outstanding work ethic.