If you’ve followed the NFL, you have heard about the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. You have also probably heard of the fastest times ever run at the combine in the 40-yard dash.
What you probably didn’t hear about is how pointless the 40-yard dash is for evaluations of players across most positions. Still, the ‘underwear Olympics’ are fun for fans who are clamoring for anything football related.
Then Henry Ruggs III runs the 40.
Oh, sh*t. He really IS that fast.
Ruggs’ 40-yard dash time was the fastest at the combine in 2020, and yet, he was disappointed with the results. Ruggs is the rare exception to the lack of importance of the 40-yard dash as he proved his speed on the field wasn’t just limited to running around lesser competition or schemed ways to get him into the open field at Alabama.
He’s every bit of a talented receiver as he is fast, and that should scare defensive backs of the 31 other NFL teams he is not on in 2020.
Don’t let the fast 40-yard dash time fool you, either. He’s no John Ross. Ruggs stands to be as good, if not better than his teammate and fellow potential first-round pick Jerry Jeudy.
With two consecutive years of 40+ catches and 700+ yards, Ruggs represents a better after-the-catch receiver than Jeudy and perhaps even the second-best YAC guy in the class after Ceedee Lamb. In terms of pure elusiveness by running past you, though, he’s in a class of his own. There were multiple occasions in 2019 alone that Ruggs didn’t even have to make a guy miss because he had blown the doors off him either during his route, on his route break, or just simply after hauling in a short slant and taking it the distance.
Ruggs racked up a ridiculous 18.6 yards per catch and an even more ridiculous 10.5 yards after the catch per reception. He didn’t drop a pass all regular season for the Crimson Tide and had five receptions go for over 30 yards in his final season in Tuscaloosa.
His best route in 2019 was certainly the slant, often schemed by Nick Saban and Co., but rightfully so. Ruggs utilizes an incredibly quick first step on all of his routes but absolutely dominated on the slant route over the middle. It was oftentimes used as a first-down throw to keep the offense in rhythm as it would consistently gain 7-8 yards just as quick as Ruggs would take it 30-40 yards swiftly.
Ruggs also saw success on a bevy of other routes, including go balls and other deeper balls, but his bread and butter this past season was eating up those yards and accumulating first downs and conversions for his offense. He’ll add a valuable intermediate threat in the receiving game for any NFL offense.
He also has the versatility to where he can line up as well, seeing a bevy of snaps come from inside in the slot. While the majority of his snaps came outside, he still showed that he could line up and win inside just as easy.
Ruggs has clean hands and a great sense of balance through his routes and cuts that should make him an ideal target either inside or outside, over the middle or outside the numbers, and he has the draft class’ top speed to burn anyone that gets near him.
Good luck getting near him, though.