Raiders News: Rookie WR Henry Ruggs III Will Start in Slot This Season, OC Says

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 6, 2020

Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs III (11) salutes the fans against LSU during the second half of an NCAA football game Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. LSU won 46-41. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)
Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

Las Vegas Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson has said rookie wide receiver Henry Ruggs III is expected to start his NFL career in the slot.

"We'll start with Ruggs III in the slot and do some things with Ruggs III," Olson told reporters. "But those guys (Ruggs and Bryan Edwards) are very multiple in what they can do, and that's the goal is to be able to move all of them around to different spots—the one, two or three position at the wide receiver."

The Raiders selected Ruggs with the 12th overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft after he scored 25 touchdowns in 40 appearances across three years at the University of Alabama.

Initial projections speculated Ruggs would start on the outside opposite Tyrell Williams with Hunter Renfrow working in the slot. Instead, it sounds like there will be a competition for the other spot in three-wide sets alongside Ruggs and Williams.

That battle could include Nelson Agholor, Zay Jones and Edwards. Renfrow's 5'10'', 185-pound frame and 4.59-second 40 time would make it difficult for him to succeed consistently on the outside.

Olson's comments leave the door open to change the plans, however, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see Vegas revert to the trio of Williams, Ruggs and Renfrow throughout the season.

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Ruggs wasn't a high-volume target with the Crimson Tide because of a crowded receiver group, which also featured fellow first-round pick Jerry Jeudy and DeVonta Smith.

He finished with just 98 receptions for 1,716 yards in three college seasons but with 17.5 yards per catch.

The 21-year-old Alabama native told Tashan Reed of The Athletic he's out to show the Raiders made the right pick.

"Just proving everybody wrong," Ruggs said. "Once I declared and made my decision, I still had doubters. People said, 'He's not even one of the top receivers on his team. He's not good. He's not ready.' Of course I overcame that and was the first receiver taken in the draft, but now I'm out to prove that that wasn't a mistake. That's not a reach. This program made a great and wise decision by choosing me."

Ruggs and the Raiders are scheduled to open the regular season Sept. 13 when they visit the Carolina Panthers.