Nothing gets scouts excited like speed.
One of the common scouting cliches is that “you can’t teach speed”, which, of course, implies that all the technical skill and artistry of playing a particular position can be taught. And when you find a prospect who has rare athleticism and is already at least fairly polished as a technician? That’s when scouts and coaches start to get really excited.
The New York Giants happen to be in a place where they not only need a second outside receiver, but they could also benefit from adding more speed to every area of their team. Alabama receiver Henry Ruggs III not only has speed to burn, but also the kind of technical polish you rarely see from speedsters from spread-option offenses. He could be in play early in the draft.
Prospect: Henry Ruggs III (WR, Alabama)
Games Watched: vs. Duke (2019), vs. South Carolina (2019), vs. LSU (2019), vs. Auburn (2019)
Red Flags: none
Games Played (starts): 40
Receptions: 98 receptions
Yards (YPC): 1,716 (17.5 yards per catch)
Total Touchdowns: 24
Games Played: 12
Receptions: 40 receptions
Yards (YPC): 746 (18.7 yards per catch)
Total Touchdowns: 7
Best: Speed, explosiveness, route running, yards after catch
Projection: A starting receiver in a vertical or yards after catch based passing game.
Alabama receiver Henry Ruggs III possesses truly rare speed and explosiveness. Ruggs has a very good release off the line of scrimmage, using good footwork and hand technique to get clean releases. He wastes no motion getting into his route and does a good job of pressing his stem vertically to force defensive backs to respect his speed. Ruggs does a good job of sinking his hips and breaking suddenly with a minimum of wasted motion at the top of his routes. He is able to track and adjust to the ball well in the air and generally catches it cleanly.
Ruggs shows rare explosiveness and speed with the ball in his hands. He has very good vision after the catch and uses his athleticism to break angles and create running lanes for himself. Ruggs also shows good physicality and play strength as a runner, absorbing contact and playing through tackle attempts.
Ruggs is a willing blocker who shows good competitive toughness and generally blocks with good technique.
Rugg’s primary weakness is his size, which shows up in multiple areas of his game. His blocks can be discarded by bigger defensive backs if his technique wavers. Likewise, if bigger defensive backs are able to stay with him in press coverage, there are instances where they are able to play through him and knock the ball away.
Overall Grade: 6.7 - Has above average traits in almost all areas and should be expected to be a rookie starter immediately. An early Day 1 value. [Grading Scale]
Henry Ruggs projects as a starting receiver at the NFL level. Ruggs has truly exceptional athleticism, being one of the rare prospects to be truly disappointed with a 4.27-second 40 yard dash. He has the experience and versatility to line up at multiple positions across the offensive formation. Ruggs might be best used by moving him around the offensive formation, lining up as an X, Slot, and Flanker to create and exploit matchups.
His athleticism gives him a rare ability to stress a defense both vertically and horizontally. Not only is Ruggs a true deep threat with the ability to release cleanly off the line of scrimmage and and out-run almost any cornerback, but he is a very good runner after the catch. Ruggs shows good vision and control of his tempo to set defenders up, then breaking pursuit angles with a burst of speed.
Ruggs might be on the small side for some teams who prefer bigger receivers, and his lack of size does show up in some areas. While he is a willing and able blocker, but can get overpowered, and he can struggle to secure catches against tight coverage.