The Raiders entered the 2020 NFL Draft with a massive need at wide receiver.

As expected, they quickly and appropriately filled that hole Thursday night, when they selected wide receiver Henry Ruggs with the No. 12 overall pick.

With all three top receivers still on the board, the Raiders had their pick of the litter, and they went with the blistering speed of the Alabama star.

Ruggs, who ran a 4.27 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, has the type of freakish athleticism and home-run ability the Silver and Black sorely have been missing. There were some questions about Ruggs' readiness to be a No. 1 receiver out of the gate, with some scouts believing he was schemed open a lot at Alabama.

While the route-running can get crisper and his release can be refined, Ruggs possesses athletic tools that can't be taught or coached.

Raiders coach Jon Gruden has been openly envious of the embarrassment of offensive riches that Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs have at receiver with Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman and DeMarcus Robinson. In Ruggs, Gruden gets his own speedster -- a guy who can tear the top off the defense, and will walk in as the second-fastest guy in the NFL behind Hill.


The Raiders' offense was lacking last season because of a thin receiver corps that was decimated by Antonio Brown's preseason explosion and subsequent trade away from the team. Without Brown, the Raiders' offense lacked the explosiveness to go down the field in chunks, leaving Gruden to scheme long, methodical drives to get his team in the end zone.

Ruggs will be a Swiss Army Knife of a weapon for Gruden to employ. He can spend all summer scheming different ways just to get the ball in Ruggs' hands and turn that speed loose. The Alabama star can take a 5-yard slant and turn it into a 65-yard touchdown in a blink -- and without being touched.

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Speed kills, and 4.27 speed is lethal. Always.

With CeeDee Lamb still on the board, I would have put him in Silver and Black. But Ruggs is exactly the type of weapon the Raiders need. He can take their offense from Schwinn to Maserati in a heartbeat.

It's hard to fault Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock for wanting to inject a little NOS into what was a stagnant Raiders passing game last season.

GRADE: A-minus

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