Henry Ruggs: Denver Broncos NFL Draft Targets

Drew Lock ended the 2019 season on a high note. After starting the season on the short-term injured reserve, Lock took over towards the end of the season and led the Broncos to a 4-1 finish. He did enough to earn the job heading into 2020, but now the Broncos need to give him another big-time playmaker like Henry Ruggs.

Courtland Sutton is a genuine stud, but the rest of the depth chart leaves a lot to be desired. Henry Ruggs probably isn’t the best wide receiver in this class, but he’s starting to climb up draft boards across the country. There is a very good chance that he’ll be the best receiver left when the Broncos are on the lock, and his skillset fits perfectly with Denver’s ideal offensive philosophy.

Henry Ruggs A Perfect Fit for Denver Broncos

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 week 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 Denver Broncos

The Broncos need to find somebody to complement Courtland Sutton. Tight end Noah Fant flashed plenty of promise as a rookie, but he doesn’t have the game-breaking speed that Ruggs does. DaeSean Hamilton had his moments, but he’s at his best as a depth option.

Ruggs has the ability to stretch the field and be a deep target for the strong-armed Lock. As previously mentioned, he’s more than just a deep threat and can make life miserable for opposing defenses, especially when combined with Courtland Sutton.

The Broncos have a guy that has a chance to develop into a true franchise quarterback. In order to maximize his odds of success, Denver should do everything they can to make his life as easy as possible. Even if Ruggs needs some time to adapt to NFL life, he should be able to make an immediate impact when schemed into the open field.

Henry Ruggs 2020 NFL Draft Profile

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