A big trade starts this off:
I entered this mock draft prepared to trade down. But when Henry Ruggs III was still sitting there on the board, I had to pull the trigger. The net cost of moving up from 28 to 21 was turning Baltimore’s first third-rounder into a fifth, which for Ruggs was an absolute no-brainer.
Lamar Jackson took a huge step forward as a passer in 2019, ultimately finishing as the consensus League MVP. But there’s still room for growth, and a undefendable” offense will need a quarterback that throws for more than the 3,127 yards. Snead and Boykin are fine options, but a team with Super Bowl aspirations needs to give Jackson another true weapon in the passing game if they want him to move towards becoming a truly elite passer. Snead is also on the final year of his contract, so the Ravens bolster offense in the short-term while also planning for the future.
Generally, I’m skiddish picking a player like Ruggs in the first round, because the pick is typically made by a team with a barren receiving core that will rely on that player to be their number one receiver in Week 1. These players fail to reach their potential more times than not, as opposing teams plan around their speed and put a safety deep to take them out of the offense (see: Jacoby Ford, former Maryland standout Darrius Heyward-Bey, etc.). Ruggs was one of the best receivers in college football in 2019, but was surrounded by Jerry Jeudy, DeVonta Smith, and Jaylen Waddle, which put him in position to get favorable match-ups and seldom face double-teams, so there’s reason to think that the concerns I described could apply here.
But in Baltimore, he enters a receiver room that already features 2020 breakout candidate Marquise Brown, as well as Snead, Miles Boykin, and tight end Mark Andrews. Putting Ruggs up against teams’ second- or third-best corners will set him up to carry that success into the NFL, and forcing opposing defenses to account for not one, but two receivers with track star speed would be absolutely unfair. It will be almost impossible to put defensive packages on the field that have the physicality to stop the Ravens’ prolific rushing attack while also having the necessary speed to stop Brown and Ruggs.