It appears that I am not the only one who believes the Cardinals should draft WR Henry “Touchdown City” Ruggs III with the #8 pick.
Ron Wolfley is 100% on board.
As is former Cardinals’ FS Rashad Johnson.
Before we get to what Rashad Johnson had to say Thursday on Doug and Wolf—-let’s take a look at what Jim Nagy, Senior Bowl executive director and long-time NFL scout, had to say about Henry Ruggs and why he believes the Cardinals would be wise to consider taking Ruggs at #8:
“I think Ruggs is the best receiver in this class, just from a play-making ability standpoint,” Nagy told Doug & Wolf on Arizona Sports. “The trendy thing right now is you hear a lot of people around the league trying to find another Deebo Samuel. To me, what that means is you want a guy that can make plays with the ball in his hands.
“… from the outside looking in, a lot of people just see that Henry ran a 4.25 and they kind of want to pigeonhole him as just a speed receiver. Obviously 4.25 is blazin’, but he’s not your typical one-trick pony vertical guy. He can run every route, he’s a great athlete. If you’ve ever YouTubed his high school basketball stuff, it’s just nuts.”
“It’s one things to be on special teams, it’s another to make plays on special teams,” Nagy said. “Henry runs down and makes plays on special teams. You’re not dealing with the typical wide receiver mindset. You’re dealing with a different dude.”
“You can see it on the tape. You can see the makeup of the player on the tape. When you go in to Tuscaloosa … To a man (of people you ask), he is the most competitive kid in that program. That’s saying a lot. Henry’s wired the right way. He loves football.”
Nagy’s comments are a perfect segue into what Rashad Johnson told Doug and Wolf. Who better to speak about the fastest home run threat in the 2020 NFL Draft than Rashad Johnson, one of the most efficient free safeties the Cardinals have ever had—-a guy who Nick Saban said was the “smartest player I have ever coached”—-which is no wonder why Saban hired Johnson to be Alabama’s Director of Player Development.
So, Doug and Wolf asked Rashad Johnson—-”if you were the Cardinals, which of these three Alabama stars would you pick: Jedrick Wills, Jerry Jeudy or Henry Ruggs?”
It was amazing how candid and eager Johnson was to answer the question, because one would think that as Alabama’s Director of Player Development, Johnson would tout all three as equally as possible—-however, while Johnson offered high praise for Wills and Jeudy, he did not hesitate to say:
“I’ma tell you, out of those three guys … I like Henry Ruggs, man.”
“The reason I like Henry Ruggs is because he does it all. I watched one game … He scores a touchdown, the very next kickoff he makes the tackle on the kickoff and the next punt … he goes and downs the ball inside the 10-yard line. Those types of players are rare.”
“He’s going to learn from DeAndre, he doesn’t have to be No. 1,” Johnson said. “He’s going to learn from Larry, he doesn’t have to be No. 2. And then Christian Kirk is going to be right in the mix for two and three as well.”
“He’s going to be a guy who can come in and play his role and give you guys utility plays and special teams and all the valuable things as a kick returner, punt returner. He’s just an all-around special guy who’s been through a lot and challenged in life. He’s one of those guys that I think when the spotlight hits him at the next level happens, he’s not going to change.”
“I guess the thing that gets me is when you look at his life, his life is a story,” Johnson said Thursday. “Came from Montgomery, (Ala.), not the best background. He’s lost some family members and friends along his journey. He wasn’t getting the buzz that he’s getting right now … he’s always been just this consistent guy who shows up every day that you just don’t have to worry about him.”
It’s noteworthy that Rashad Johnson thinks of the big picture where Ruggs is concerned—-not only would the Cardinals be getting a speed blazer who can take the ball to the house every time touches the ball—-a bona fide home run threat who Rashad Johnson, as an NFL free safety knows all too well, a FS would have to shade in deep coverage—-thus leaving the trio of DeAndre Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk in single coverage (just imagine that! seriously—-just picture that)—-but the Cardinals would also be getting an elite special teamer. Ruggs was an outstanding gunner on kickoff and punt coverage teams (14 career tackles on STs) and he averaged 23.8 yards per kickoff return last season, plus Ruggs could step right in for Pharoh Cooper as the Cardinals’ punt returner.
If you haven’t listened to Rashad Johnson’s interview, here’s the link:
The point is—-as the Cardinals got right away when they drafted Patrick Peterson and Budda Baker—-they would be getting a dynamic player who can make a tremendous impact on 2 of the 3 phases of the football team. And who knows—-watching Ruggs steal balls and go for whirlwind dunks on the basketball court—-maybe the Cardinals give Ruggs a Cover 2 FS role in the nickel defense—-after all—-the Cardinals did play Roy Green some in the secondary. We already know the dude can tackle.
Some have argued that the Cardinals do not need another WR now that they traded for DeAndre Hopkins—-but—-Hopkins is not a blazer (4.57)—-he is a WR who thrives against single coverage.
Thus—-consider this: in 2019, the Houston Texans were 8-3 and averaged 26.3 points per game when WR Will Fuller played, and were 2-3 and averaged 19.6 ppg., when he didn’t.
Giving Hopkins, Fitz and Kirk the optimum chance to flourish has been my main point from the beginning. This point is also Steve Keim’s—-he has maintained this off-season that he wants to add a WR who can “take the top off the defense”—-
One can argue, well what about Christian Kirk and Andy Isabella?
Christian Kirk is more quick than he is fast. He ran a 4.47 40 at the Combine—-which is good, but not fast enough to occupy NFL free safeties’ attention play after play.
Andy Isabella ran a blistering 4.31 at the Combine, so yes, he has the speed to take the top off the defense. But physically and skill-wise, he is not quite in the same category as Henry Ruggs. That’s why Ruggs is a bona fide top 10 pick and Isabella was a late 2nd round pick.
Plus, Ruggs dominated in the SEC, thus his assimilation into the NFL will be far more immediate than Isabella’s who had to make the transition from the University of Massachusetts to the NFL.
Having Henry Ruggs and Andy Isabella on the field at the same time would pose an added dilemma for the back end of defenses.
The Cardinals struggled scoring TDs last year—-and they had fewer home run TDs than any of us could count on one hand, you know, the kind of home run TDs that Kyler Murray was famous for at Oklahoma. But, at Oklahoma, Kyler had the complimentary tandem of speed baller Hollywood Brown and all-purpose playmaker CeeDee Lamb—-which is why—-think of how exhilarating it would be to see Kyler Murray throwing to a complimentary tandem of Henry Ruggs and DeAndre Hopkins for the next 4-5 years.
Doug and Wolf were asked which Alabama WR was nicknamed “Touchdown City” as a freshman—-and after they guessed Jerry Jeudy—-Rashad Johnson corrected them. Rashad said that Henry Ruggs was named “Touchdown City”as a freshman because in the limited action that as a pure freshmen Ruggs got at Alabama, half of Ruggs’ 12 receptions (229 yds., 19.1 ave.) went for TDs (6).
If Henry Ruggs was just a speedster, there is no way he would deserve consideration as a top 10 pick. The uncanny things is—-Henry Ruggs is faster and has a stronger all-around skills to be more prolific than Will Fuller, Brandin Cooks, Marquise Brown, DeSean Jackson.
Think of what Tyreek Hill has brought to the Chiefs and QB Patrick Mahomes—-this is precisely what Henry Ruggs could do for the Cardinals and QB Kyler Murray.
It’s one thing to be fast—-but to be able to play fast while maintaining full body control and an ability to track and catch the ball with relative ease puts Ruggs in a elite category. That’s why Henry Ruggs thoroughly lives up to the moniker of “Touchdown City.”
Plus—-when Kyler Murray has a burner like Ruggs occupying the free safety—-it increases all the other WRs’ odds of scoring TDs. Just ask Tua and the trio of dynamic WRs Ruggs played with at Alabama.
Here (phots) is where the Cardinals’ first round pick will be made—-from Steve Keim’s kitchen.
What do you think Steve Keim has cooking?
What Keim is cooking—-could turn out to be a feast: