It’s not realistic and quite honestly boring for people to agree on everything; learning from each other's differences is a wonderful thing. But even with that in mind, the wide-ranging viewpoints when it comes to Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs III are baffling.
There can be varying degrees of how much someone likes Ruggs, especially as a first-round prospect. But the debate should be if he is a top-10 or top-20 player, not if he even belongs in the first-round conversation.
There are some bad, lazy and incorrect narratives about Ruggs. It’s time to dispel some of these misconceptions.
More than any other position, receivers come in a variety of sizes. There are dynamic pass-catchers like Mike Evans, who measures 6-foot-5 and 234 pounds, while Tyreek Hill is 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds. Both present unique challenges.
Being concerned that Ruggs is 5-foot-11 and 188 pounds is an unnecessary fear. His build is similar to Hill, John Brown, Emmanuel Sanders or Tyler Lockett, who have all been meaningful playmakers in recent years.
One of my favorite components of Ruggs’ game is that he plays bigger than he measures. He plays through contact as a route runner and at the top of routes. Ruggs gets after the ball and brings the fight when blocking. He is willing to be physical after the catch.
No, Ruggs’ wingspan won’t be confused for that of Julio Jones, but he’s not short and his vertical jump of 42 inches and broad jump of 131 inches say everything about his explosiveness to elevate and go get the football.
Being tall and long only matters if the receiver knows how to apply those traits to making plays on the field. Ruggs has no issues playing big and attacking the football like an alpha.
He’s Just a Fast Guy
This grinds my gears; selling Ruggs’ 4.27-second 40-yard dash as some sort of negative is lazy. While there is validity that speed only matters if it can be controlled, Ruggs’ game tape clearly showcases that he knows how to remain balanced and his speed as a weapon.
John Ross is the poster boy for why someone shouldn’t fall in love with a receiver just because he is fast. Ross doesn’t control his speed well and it leads to sloppy routes that aren’t challenging to mirror because there is very little deception.
Despite clocking a record 4.22 40-yard dash, Ross isn’t a meaningful NFL receiver because he doesn’t know how to make his speed matter. There are other dynamics to Ross’ game like his injury history, inconsistent hands and ball skills that have led to his demise; lumping Ruggs with Ross is short-sighted. The two have very little in common aside from their historic 40-yard dash times.
He Wasn’t a No. 1 WR in College
Talk about a lack of context.
My favorite thing about Ruggs is how he made the most of his time at Alabama. Across three seasons, Ruggs had 100 touches from scrimmage, averaged 17.9 yards per touch and scored 25 touchdowns and 25 percent of his touches went for scores. He did it all at a very high level of competition. Ruggs put up these numbers in the best conference (SEC) and best division (SEC West) in college football.
While Ruggs is electric with the football some of my favorite plays he made in college came without touching the football.