Henry Ruggs: New England Patriots NFL Draft Targets

Henry Ruggs
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The New England Patriots picked a good year to need a wide receiver. After giving Tom Brady arguably the worst supporting cast in the league, the Patriots need to add some difference-makers in the passing game. The 2020 NFL Draft is stacked with playmaking talent, but one name stands out above the rest. Henry Ruggs is a dynamic big-play threat and has a good shot of being on the board when the Patriots are on the clock.

This isn’t to say that Ruggs is the best receiver in the upcoming draft class – he’s not. However, it’s hard to imagine any scenario where a guy like Jerry Jeudy falls to the 23rd overall pick. A lot can happen between now and the NFL Draft, but Ruggs appears to be unlikely to go in the top 20. Even with a lot of talented skill players in the draft, Ruggs’ unique combination of explosiveness and toughness make him an ideal fit for New England.

Henry Ruggs A Perfect Fit for New England Patriots

Strengths

The first thing that jumps off the page with Ruggs is his ability to make big plays every time he touches the ball. The NFL Combine is roughly a month away and it won’t surprise anyone if Ruggs is among the fastest players tested. Alabama’s offense had a plethora of dangerous weapons and opposing defenses typically played soft zone in an attempt to limit big plays. It didn’t work, as Ruggs had to ability to get the ball underneath the coverage and outrun the entire defense.

This isn’t to say that Ruggs is only good after the catch. Ruggs’ speed allows him to beat defenses over the top, and he demonstrated an ability to get open in the red zone with an impressive catch radius. Ruggs’ speed will always be his best attribute, but he’s a well-rounded player who can do a little bit of everything.

Some players like Ruggs have a reputation of being one-trick ponies. For example, a guy like Brandin Cooks is great at getting open deep but isn’t capable of making contested catches in tight windows. Ruggs shatters that narrative, as the film shows a receiver capable of breaking tackles, winning contested catches, and taking hits over the middle.

Weaknesses

Ruggs’ biggest weakness is his relative inexperience with route running. As previously mentioned, opposing defenses typically played zone against Alabama, simply because college teams aren’t capable of lining up in man against both Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy. Because of this, Ruggs never had to hone his route running ability in order to be successful. This is a flaw that affects the vast majority of collegiate wide receivers, as Kyle Shanahan beautifully explained a few weeks ago.

Only time will tell if Ruggs can turn into an above-average route runner, but the early returns are encouraging. Nobody is going to confuse him with Stefon Diggs, but Ruggs managed to run a few nice routes last year. From an athletic standpoint, he has all of the necessary tools required to run routes at an NFL level.


Even if Ruggs can’t figure out the subtle nuances of route running, he’s still going to be a dangerous player in the NFL. As shown in the clips above, Ruggs has the ability to make something happen each and every time he touches the ball. Every coach in the NFL should be able to come up with a few plays to get him the ball in the open field.

How Henry Ruggs Fits the New England Patriots

New England desperately needs some speed at the wide receiver position. Julian Edelman is as reliable as they come but is entering his age-34 season and can’t possibly take these types of hits much longer. Mohamed Sanu has a history of solid play but underwhelmed during his half-season in New England. N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers both flashed their NFL potential, but neither guy did anything to suggest they can develop into superstars.

All of the four aforementioned receivers are at their best working out of the slot, and none excel at stretching the field. Based on his college film, Ruggs has the ability to line up wide and obviously has the speed to take the top off a defense. Even if Sanu, Harry, and Meyers can all take the next step in 2020, Ruggs can still provide a big-play element to the offense.

Getting the ball to Henry Ruggs shouldn’t be a problem, as Josh McDaniels is one of the better offensive minds in football. Scheming a player open has never been easier in today’s pass-happy NFL, and Ruggs doesn’t need much space to be dangerous. Additionally, New England’s offensive line should be good enough to give Tom Brady adequate time to throw the ball downfield.

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