Henry Ruggs III will long be attached to his 40-yard dash. He ran it faster than anyone at the NFL Scouting Combine, covering the distance in 4.27 seconds.
That’s wild, man. Wild.
It’s also fitting that he became a Raider on Thursday night, given the team’s long history of selection a draft class’ fastest man. They have always value speed dating way back to the Cliff Branch days. They employed a former sprinter in James Jett and infamously drafted Darrius Heyward-Bey in the top 10.
This was a selection that Al Davis would’ve loved, but Ruggs isn’t a one-trick pony. He has a truly elite trait that can’t be taught, but he doesn’t want to be known purely as a speed guy.
He made that point clear on Thursday night during a conference call with Raiders reporters.
“I feel like I can show that at any time,” Ruggs said. “Of course, my tape speaks for itself, but when I get out there I think people will see that I can do more than just run.”
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Ruggs was a awesome for the Crimson Tide, averaging 18.7 yards per catch in 2019, with 746 yards on just 40 catches. He wasn’t a high-volume receiver while working in a loaded position group that also featured Jerry Jeudy and Devonta Smith, which is why his numbers were a little lower than he’d like and are typically shown by the NFL draft’s first receiver off the board.
“It definitely kind of held me back,” Ruggs said. “There were a lot of talented receivers and we had to share the ball. Everybody got a chance to contribute but playing with that group of guys only makes you better and makes you want to take advantage of every opportunity.”
The Raiders need and expect him to make a significant impact as a rookie, where the Silver and Black need him to step in and play well right away. His speed will change how the Raiders are covered, but Jon Gruden will certainly scheme up ways to get him the ball in space and find innovative ways to keep him steadily involved like Andy Reid does for Tyreek Hill in Kansas City.
“I’m an explosive playmaker and can be a great receiver,” Ruggs said. “And I don’t think anyone wants it as much as I want it.
“I definitely think I can open up the offense. I think I’m going to make a positive impact [right away] and stretch things out with my speed.”
Ruggs will start the Raiders’ virtual offseason program on Monday and be charged with working out on his own due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that prevents large gatherings and has prompted the NFL to shut down team facilities.
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Ruggs is known for his work ethic and competitiveness and is confident he’ll be able to learn on his own and in video conference meetings with the Raiders coaching staff.
“I’m very confident that I can play anywhere and do anything,” Ruggs said. “I’m not afraid to show that I’m ready for any challenge, any assignment and any competition.
“…I’m ready to go. Work is work and I’m ready to get it in. I have to get somewhere and start fresh. I have to be ready to go whenever we do report. I know for a fact that I will be.”