Alabama wideout Henry Ruggs III made history in April as not only was he the first receiver taken in the NFL Draft but the first-ever pick by the Las Vegas Raiders. Here are Ruggs’ odds at Mybookie to win 2020 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year as well as the Raiders’ over/under win total.
The Raiders have a history of targeting speed at wide receivers, so it was no surprise when they selected Ruggs with the 12th pick of April’s draft. At the NFL Combine, Ruggs ran a 4.27-second 40-yard dash, the fourth-fastest ever at the event since electronic timing began in 1999.
As a freshman at Alabama in 2017, he showed big-play ability right away and was named to the All-SEC Freshman team. He returned 13 kickoffs for 239 yards while taking back eight punts totaling 46 yards and added 12 receptions for 229 yards, six of which went for a touchdown.
As a sophomore, Ruggs hauled in 46 catches for 741 yards and 11 scores as a sophomore. His touchdown receptions tied for second in the SEC. He tallied 20-plus yard gains on 13 of his catches in 2018 while 34 of his grabs went for a first down or a touchdown.
Then last year, the speedster owned the team-long rush (75 yards) and the second-longest reception (81 yards). He had 40 receptions for 746 yards and seven touchdowns to go with 75 yards rushing. Ruggs averaged a team-high 18.6 yards per catch to rank 24th nationally with 27 of his 40 receptions going for a Tide first down or touchdown. He was also a threat in the kick return game, accounting for 286 yards on 12 kickoff returns with a long of 40.
Ruggs finished his NCAA career ranked third on Alabama’s career touchdown receptions list with 24. He averaged 17.5 yards per catch across his three seasons, good for sixth on the UA career list (minimum 50 catches).
The 5-foot-11, 188-pound playmaker has great hands, ball skills and is exceptional after the catch. The Alabama product was limited to 55 targets in 2019, but his 13.6 YPT and 10.5 RAC were both top four in this year’s rookie class. His 13.5 yards per target still ranked as the second-best mark in this year’s class. Unfortunately, Las Vegas’ offense is far from an ideal fit as Derek Carr ranked 30th-overall in attempts 20-plus yards downfield last year.
While known for being a deep threat, Ruggs showed rare burst (1.43-second 10-yard split) and abilities after the catch on underneath targets, particularly on slants and shallow crossers. The Raiders have such a severe need at wideout that Ruggs is very likely to step right into an every-down role. Only two Raiders pass-catchers reached the five-touchdown plateau last season: wide receiver Tyrell Williams (6) and tight end Foster Moreau (5).
“We were able to really concentrate on Henry Ruggs, from our house, make a specific reel to ask him specific questions,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. “We even asked him to memorize formations and asked him to regurgitate it to us, and I don’t think we had a receiver or anybody at any position perform better in terms of football intelligence than Henry Ruggs. A lot of it has to do with Alabama, playing the pro-style system. A lot of it really had to do with this guy has the ‘it’ factor. He loves it. He learns it quick. Comes easy to him.”
During his time at Alabama, Ruggs never eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark; however, there’s a good chance he does in his first season with the Raiders. His former Alabama teammate Josh Jacobs will garner attention in the box, which will open up the deep threat for Ruggs.
If he can avoid accidents, that is. Recently, Ruggs suffered a deep cut to his thigh while moving things into a trailer.
“He was trying to move a trailer or something — move furniture or something — and the trailer just kind of pinned him against a car or a wall or something,” Ruggs’ father said. “He’s pretty much OK. It was just like a little open wound on his leg, a little incision. Like something had stuck him right there on his thigh a little bit.”