The Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver corps was laughably barren in 2019, and they did little in free agency to remedy the issue. With two aging and oft-injured projected starters in Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson at the top of the depth chart, the Eagles will almost certainly be in the market for a top wideout in this year's NFL Draft. With Jerry Jeudy and Ceedee Lamb more than likely being out of realistic reach for the Eagles, Henry Ruggs III could be their star of the future.
With D-Jax coming off yet another injury and nearing the end of his NFL run at age 33, Ruggs would appear to be the perfect replacement. The Alabama standout ran a blazing 4.27 40-yard dash with a 42-inch vertical leap. His skill set compares to that of a young Jackson.
Not only is Ruggs an obvious candidate to take the top off a defense with his overwhelming speed, but he can also turn slants and screens into big plays seemingly out of nothing and is a much tougher runner than you would expect from a 188-pound receiver. In 2019 he averaged a ridiculous 18.7 yards per catch, taking seven of his 40 receptions to the house. Beyond the passing attack, he is a weapon as a returner and can excel with gadget run plays.
In this 49ers Maven article evaluating Ruggs, SI’s Nicholas Cothrel was also impressed by his electrifying run-after-catch ability:
His run after catch ability exemplifies instant acceleration, making him a true "home run" threat in the open field. Ruggs has adequate vision when navigating through traffic that follows him throughout his intermediate to deep routes. He's purely electric after the catch.
Landing on a receiver deficient roster like the Eagles would be fantasy gold for not just dynasty owners but in redrafts as well. Ruggs could make an immediate impact in the league as a featured target from a big-armed quarterback in Carson Wentz. While receivers with his kind of skill set always have boom-or-bust potential both week-to-week and for their careers, I see more boom than bust in this case. Beyond his speed, I like his hands, especially with hard passes on slants, and he is a sneaky good route runner with the ability to make defenders bite on double moves and deceptive speed changes on deeper routes.
Ruggs could struggle early on with more physical corners and aggressive press coverage; however, that is a flaw he should be able to overcome with experience and adding some strength in the gym. He's also not a guy that's going to go up and get the ball, but at just 5-foot-11 and with wheels like him, that's not what coaches will be expecting. These concerns should not and will not deter teams from targeting him and making him a focal point of their offense immediately. A much more significant concern for Philly is the fact that they pick 21 in this year’s draft.
The young wideout may slip to pick 21; nevertheless, there is a strong possibility that if this is the guy the Eagles are targeting, they may have to move up to get him. At the very least, it would be a much safer move. Talent and speed are hard to come by, and his combine numbers have almost locked him in at third WR selected in the 2020 Draft. If this class weren't so deep at the position and so top-heavy on offense, we would be looking at Ruggs as a top 10 pick. The worst-case scenario is the Eagles get a player like Ted Ginn Jr. In the best-case scenario, they get a game-changer like a Tyreek Hill or the second coming of D-Jax in Philly.
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