The two wide receiving stars for the Alabama Crimson Tide were both taken in the first round of the NFL Draft last night. Interestingly, they both ended up at teams in the AFC West.
At 12, the Las Vegas Raiders selected Henry Ruggs III – a mercurial speed merchant with a few rough edges and a ceiling as high as any receiver you’re likely to find.
Three picks later at 15, the Denver Broncos selected Jerry Jeudy – an incredible route runner whom many had tipped as the hottest receiving prospect in the whole draft.
The run on receivers that was expected to come between picks 10 and 15 never really happened, playing into the hands of both AFC West receiver needy teams as they both essentially got their top picks.
Henry Ruggs was the first receiver off the board. With the Tyreek Hill-like speed demon receiver currently popular in the NFL, it’s not too much of a surprise that Mike Mayock and John Gruden opted for Ruggs to partner with newly-acquired Nelson Agholor and 2019 draft pick Hunter Renfrow.
Ruggs offers a new, deep threat to the Raiders play-callers that they didn’t have previously. Their offence is shaping up nicely… now, if only they had a decent Quarterback to throw it to them.
As for the Broncos, they come into the 2020 season on a high after a brilliant end to the 2019 campaign that saw rookie QB Drew Lock win four of his five games as a starter, with very limited resources.
In 2019, Courtland Sutton had to shoulder the majority of the receiving responsibility as Emmanuel Sanders was traded to the 49ers after week seven and Daesean Hamilton didn’t provide enough of a threat.
Now though, Jerry Jeudy will join the offence to give Lock yet another weapon to aim for. With Sutton, Jeudy, Noah Fant as well as Phillip Lindsay and newly-acquired Melvin Gordon out of the back-field, the Broncos offence is coming together very nicely.
They could do with some protection for Drew Lock up front, though. Denver have already added interior lineman Graham Glasgow from Detriot, but the o-line is still a position of need for Vic Fangio and John Elway to fill.
Offensive tackle Josh Jones fell out of the first round in the draft last night and the Broncos will no doubt be keeping an eye on the Houston left-tackle. That position on the Denver roster is currently filled by Garrett Bolles who endured something of a topsy-turvy 2019 season.
The Broncos pick at 14 in the second round and will be at least considering taking Jones, should he fall to them. Other needs include a cornerback and/or a safety. Given that both Xavier McKinney and Grant Delpit fell to the second round, they may look there instead.
Xavier McKinney likely won’t fall that far down but if the Broncos were to come away with him, he’d be their second pick from the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Jeudy and Ruggs are both incredible talents and I for one am very much looking forward to witnessing them face-off against one another this season. They’ve spent the last two years as teammates, but now face the prospect of being on opposite sides of an AFC West war! Anyone else just get tingles?