In the lead up to the 2020 draft, most predicted the Raiders would choose a wide receiver.
But few projected Henry Ruggs to the team at No. 12 overall.
Las Vegas made Ruggs the first receiver selected ahead of more conventional top choices Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb, as well as the player who turned out to be the most productive rookie receiver last year Justin Jefferson.
Of the 2020 first-round receivers, only Philadelphia’s Jalen Reagor had fewer yards than Ruggs’ 452. Ruggs finished last among the six with 26 catches.
But according to Raiders receiver Hunter Renfrow, those numbers don’t tell the whole story of Ruggs’ rookie year.
“I think Henry’s a great player,” Renfrow said in a Wednesday press conference. “I thought that last year. I mean, y’all didn’t get to see all the things that he did for everyone else, opening up the field for everyone else. What he’s doing, you can’t put a stat on. And what he did last year, you can’t put a stat on. And that’s kind of how we’re trying to be as an offense. it doesn’t matter who has the yards, who has the catches, who has the touchdowns — we’re one unit. And the best teams that I’ve been on are exactly that.
“Henry’s been good and people ask me this offseason how Henry has been and things like that, and honestly he’s a great player in practice. It’s not one thing that he’s out there goofing around in practice and kind of not getting better. But he really is getting better every single day and I see it every day.”
Despite what Renfrow said, there is a stat that in some ways reflects how Ruggs affected Las Vegas’ offensive production. As Josh Dubow of the Associated Press pointed out, the Raiders averaged 7.77 yards per pass play when Ruggs was on the field and 7.25 yards when he wasn’t. That was the biggest gap among the team’s regular receivers and tight ends.
But Ruggs played only 54 percent of Las Vegas’ offensive snaps. In contrast, Jefferson played 82 percent of Minnesota’s plays.
Ruggs may not have been as productive as others in his draft class as a rookie, but his numbers could improve in Year Two after a full offseason to get more comfortable in the offense.