Speed kills. The Raiders have got an up-close look at that as the Kansas City Chiefs built their Death Star led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes and a track team of wide receivers better known as the "Legion of Zoom."
The Raiders are chasing the Chiefs. The Silver and Black currently are leagues behind the reigning Super Bowl champions, but Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock are building something from the ground up. In order to compete with the Chiefs and win any shootout with Mahomes, they'll the requisite speed and playmaking ability to do just that.
Enter: Henry Ruggs.
The Raiders' need at wide receiver is well-documented. It's been rehashed a million times ever since Antonio Brown blew up the Silver and Black's plan for a dominant receiving corps. They are in desperate need of a wide receiver who can take the top off a defense, challenge corners vertically and make plays with the ball in his hands.
Ruggs is seen as the third member of the elite tier of prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft, following Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb and Ruggs' teammate Jerry Jeudy.
Both are expected to go in the top 15 and most have mocked the Raiders as selecting either Lamb or Jeudy. But Ruggs' freakish speed and otherworldly athleticism are blue-chip skills you can't teach. Skills Chiefs star Tyreek Hill has and has torched the Raiders with over the past few seasons.
You have to fight fire with fire. Speed with speed.
Ruggs showed up to the NFL Scouting Combine and blazed a 4.27 40-yard dash. The second he steps on an NFL field he and Hill will the two fastest players in the NFL.
In the mold of Hill and Chiefs young rising star Mecole Hardman, Ruggs is an offensive weapon. He might not arrive in the NFL as a polished No. 1 option, but he has all the juice that will make defenses focus on where he is at all times. His break-neck speed and unreal acceleration give him the ability to turn the ho-hum curl, slant or out route into six.
Ruggs is not the polished receiver that Jeudy is, although he has more route savvy then you think. He has soft hands and is a tough runner. He's a three-level threat who can strike from anywhere at any time.
Alabama schemed him open a lot and Ruggs had issues with the physical corners at LSU, so he doesn't come without question marks and might not be a go-to No. 1 receiver right away, but few rookies are.
All that said, his release can be improved and the deep-ball tracking worked on. The freakish speed and athleticism Ruggs possesses can't be taught. Having a player with game-changing athleticism is almost a requirement if you want to be a true contender in today's NFL.
The Chiefs have three in Hill, Hardman and Demarcus Robinson. The Raiders have zero.
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Ruggs would give the Raiders something they don't have, a dynamic offensive weapon who can alter a game in the blink of an eye. A receiver who can take a safe pass from Derek Carr and blow past a defense in the blink.
Lamb and Jeudy are talented, stars in the making and they are both possess speed and athleticism in their own right. But they can't match Ruggs there.
We know Gruden has been envious of what Andy Reid gets to scheme around in Kansas City. He could take his first step in building a Death Star of his own by taking Ruggs and injecting three tanks of NOS into the Raiders' offense.