For the next few weeks before the NFL Draft on April 23-25, we’ll be looking at some viable options for the Eagles and the No. 21 pick.
Speedy Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs didn’t even catch 100 passes in his entire college career, but when you run 4.27 in the 40, it sure gets peoples’ attention. Plus, when you’re sharing the football with Jerry Jeudy, who’ll also be a first-round pick this year, and DeVonta Smith, a sure-fire first-round pick next year, it’s tough to pile up big numbers.
But Ruggs is an impressive prospect and not just a speedster but a sure-handed receiver as well. He is only 5-11 and that could limit him in the NFL facing big, physical corners, and he isn’t DeSean Jackson when it comes to tracking a deep ball. His real skill is turning a short throw into a big gain, something the Eagles did not have very many of last year.
Ruggs, who came out after his junior year, caught 98 passes for 1,716 yards and 24 TDs with a 17.5 average in three seasons in Tuscaloosa. His best season was 2018, when he caught 46 passes for 741 yards and 11 TDs.
Current roster at WR: Other than two oft-injured, aging former Pro Bowers – Jackson and Alshon Jeffery – the Eagles have only J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, slot Greg Ward and a handful of other practice squad call-ups under contract. If Ruggs winds up with the Eagles, there won’t be any roadblocks to getting on the field.
How he would fit: The Eagles haven’t had a rookie wide receiver with 300 yards since Jordan Matthews in 2014. And their only returning receiver under 30 who had more than 10 catches last year is Ward, an undrafted slot who was a late-season practice-squad call-up. So it’s fair to say this team’s need for an explosive young wide receiver is extreme.
Eagles' history at WR in draft: The Eagles have drafted 10 receivers in the last decade, and only two are currently with the team, and they have 13 combined career catches. They’ve only taken three wide receivers in the first round in the last 35 years – Freddie Mitchell in 2001, Jeremy Maclin in 2009 and Nelson Agholor in 2015.
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