Broncos Draft Profile: Henry Ruggs III could revolutionize Broncos offense

Jan 7, 2019; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Henry Ruggs III (11) against the Clemson Tigers in the 2019 College Football Playoff Championship game at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 NFL Draft class is loaded with talent at the wide receiver position.

After focusing on running back and defense in free agency, the Broncos could look to target a receiver in the first round of this year’s draft with the No. 15 pick.

One striking candidate the Broncos could look into is Alabama product Henry Ruggs III. Ruggs is a projected first-round pick, but his draft value soared after his 4.27 40-yard dash time, which is the second-fastest time for a wide receiver in combine history.

Ruggs is one of the most talented players in April’s draft and has garnered a ton of attention since the combine. Should the Broncos want to draft the Alabama wideout, they might need to trade up.

Positives

Ruggs best skill is his speed. As he proved at the combine, Ruggs possess lightning speed that could revolutionize an offense, especially one that focuses on the verticle passing game. Ruggs’ speed alone will require opposing teams to have a safety on his side of the field at all times.

He is like a luxury sports car on the field, capable of going from 0-to-60 at any given moment. He’s an elite route runner that can beat a defense in a variety of ways, which will make him a swiss army knife for whichever team calls his name on draft night.

His quickness allows him to beat many of his opponents off the line, and should a defender manage to stick with him, he has tremendous speed after the catch. The beauty of Ruggs is that he can be used in both the short and long passing game.

Additionally, he has soft hands and is capable of making most catches, given his agility and quick instincts.

The 21-year-old stud caught 40 passes, compiling 746 yards and seven touchdowns for the Crimson Tide in 2019.

All in all, Ruggs is one of the most exciting players in this year’s draft and has the skillset to develop into one of the premier receivers in the game.

Negatives

While Ruggs checks most of the boxes, there are a few areas where he needs to improve his game should he want to thrive in the NFL.

Most importantly, Ruggs will need to get better against press coverage. Given his speed, opposing defenses will do their best to disrupt Ruggs’ rhythm by pressing and jamming him on the line. Ruggs must be able to combat tight defenses, and adjust his game as needed.

In the Crimson Tide’s two games versus LSU last season, Ruggs struggled with the physical, press style coverage the Tigers played.

Also, Ruggs is  5’11” and weighs 188 pounds, which is not the largest frame for a receiver. His size certainly helps with his speed, but it could be questionable when playing against teams that feature titan’s on defense.

Most importantly, Ruggs played alongside another elite wideout at Alabama, Jerry Jeudy, which questions his ability to be a true No. 1 receiver at the next level.

Jeudy is also expected to be a first-round pick, and could even be drafted ahead of Ruggs. The tandem was great for the Crimson Tide and made game-planning for their offense complex.

With that, there was less pressure on Ruggs given Jeudy was lined up across the field. It’s only natural to wonder how Ruggs will perform in an NFL offense where he is the top receiver.

Verdict

Ruggs is one of the most popular receivers to enter the draft in recent memory. The thought of pairing him alongside Courtland Sutton within the Broncos’ offense is enticing should he be available at No. 15. Given his performance at the NFL combine, there is a good chance he will be drafted before then, so Denver might need to trade up if they want to select him. The 2020 draft is deep with wideouts, so Denver might not want to surrender the draft capital necessary to draft Ruggs. That said, he has the skillset to be one of the supreme wideouts in the league for years to come. Should the Broncos want to compete with the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West, their offense needs a serious upgrade, and Ruggs would provide just that.

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