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Henry Ruggs, Saints

Henry Ruggs III could be the missing piece the Saints need

The New Orleans Saints have a go-to receiver. His name is Michael Thomas. He is very good at football.

That’s not the problem with their offense. No. Drew Brees, Teddy Bridgewater, or whoever commands the offense in 2020 and beyond will have a reliable superstar option in Thomas. However, outside of him, there isn’t much to the Saints’ receiving corps.

The Saints have not seen production from a wide receiver not named Thomas in 2019. Their second wide-out Ted Ginn Jr. has respectable numbers in 28 catches for 398 yards and two touchdowns. That’s to the naked eye. He has seven drops, per Pro Football Reference, and a 53.8% catch rate. He is also 34 years old and a free agent after the season.

Ginn won’t cut it as Thomas’ sidekick. New Orleans’ presumed young sidekick, Tre’Quan Smith, might, but he has struggled to stay healthy in 2019. When on the field, the second-year UCF product has 11 receptions for 144 yards and three touchdowns. A field stretcher, Smith, does add a dynamic to the Saints’ offense, but he hasn’t shown it consistently as of late.

If neither Ginn, Smith or any other wide receivers suit their fancy, the Saints can find Thomas’ sidekick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Luckily, they can stay in the South to scout him too.

The prospect that should catch the Saints’ eye resides in Tuscaloosa: Alabama Crimson Tide standout Henry Ruggs.

If the Saints want speed to complement Thomas (they should), Ruggs is their guy. He is a burner with true 4.2 speed. He will turn heads at the combine for his 40-yard-dash time. He draws Tyreek Hill comparisons, but he’s also 6-foot-0, 190-pounds, and he’s not a one-trick pony.

In 2019, Ruggs has 38 receptions for 719 yards and seven touchdowns; he also has one rush for 75 yards and a score.

Ruggs is an ace in contested catch situations, making him an ideal red zone target. He will burn defenses after the catch with creativity and acceleration, is physical as can be, and top it off, he is consistent. Though he needs to improve the nuances of his route-running, he can be productive on the basis of getting him into open space or acting as a decoy.

The Saints are slated to pick at the back of the 2020 NFL Draft. Ruggs may go a bit higher. However, if he falls (as many receivers tend to do), New Orleans should be jumping on the opportunity of adding serious speed to the roster.