If the Denver Broncos covet Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs III, they may not be able to get him without trading up in the 2020 NFL Draft.
The Denver Broncos have a need for speed (and more talent and depth) on the offensive side of the ball in the 2020 NFL Draft. The fastest offensive weapon in the 2020 draft class is Alabama's Henry Ruggs, whose blazing 4.27 in the 40-yard dash was honestly somewhat of a disappointment.
Everyone wanted to see Ruggs bust the 4.2 barrier, but the 4.27 will more than suffice.
Although many felt like Ruggs' 4.27 put him out of the Broncos' range, the reality is, he was probably not a realistic option to last to the 15th overall selection in the first place. If Ruggs was going to be taken because of his other-worldly speed, that was something everyone already knew about.
The 4.27 was not a surprise, and it's not like Ruggs didn't put his speed to good use in the actual games he played.
With 100 touches at Alabama, Ruggs scored a whopping 25 total touchdowns. He scored a touchdown one in every four times he touched the ball and averaged 18 yards per touch over three seasons.
Not only is Ruggs a freakish athlete, but he's also freaky productive with the ball in his hands.
There will be teams that have Ruggs as their WR1 in this year's draft, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if the Broncos were one of them.
So how do the Broncos get him? They aren't going to be able to sit at 15 overall. Not at this point. If the Jets don't want a left tackle badly enough, they'll take him at 11. The Raiders would take him at 12. The Colts might take him at 13. The Eagles or Bills might jump ahead of the Broncos and take him at 14.
One way or another, someone is probably going to have to jump someone for Ruggs.
Why not the Broncos?
We have looked at a ton of mock draft scenarios this year, but not one where the Broncos trade up to get Henry Ruggs. Let's take a look at what it might cost Denver and how they could make it happen.
This is where things get complicated.
The Broncos probably aren't going to want to pay the price to jump super high in the top 10 picks, meaning the 6-8 range. Looking at their options, though, how can they pull this off?
14. Buccaneers: Not high enough.
13. Colts: Still not high enough.
12. Raiders: Not a chance the Raiders are trading with the Broncos.
11. Jets: This may be the ideal trading spot, but keep in mind -- Adam Gase hates the Broncos. Remember him running up the score against Denver a couple of years ago when he was the head coach in Miami?
Joe Douglas, the general manager of the Jets, could ultimately override Gase here, so there is still some hope.
10. Browns: Looking for a top offensive tackle prospect, it seems doubtful the Browns would move off this spot.
9. Jaguars: This is a potential spot. The Jaguars have so many needs right now it's hard to know where to begin. Then again, they could be one of the teams with Ruggs high on their board...
The Jaguars, in my opinion, are the cutoff point. To trade into the top eight picks would unquestionably cost the Broncos their second-round pick this year and more. Is John Elway willing to do that for one player?
I'm not so sure.
He might not scoff at trading two of his third-round picks for the chance to snag Ruggs, and possibly a future pick thrown in there additionally.
The trade value chart says there is a 300 point difference between the Broncos' 15th pick and the Jaguars' 9th pick.
That equates to the Broncos' 83rd pick, 95th pick, and last remaining fourth-round pick.
That's a three-for-one for the dynamic wide receiver, but we're going to try to put together a draft class around Ruggs, so that's the price we have to pay.
Courtland Sutton. Noah Fant. Henry Ruggs.
That's a big three if I've ever seen one.
The Denver Broncos need to add firepower to their offense. They need someone who can actually take the top off of a defense and someone who can create offense when everything else is stagnant.
Not to put all of that pressure on Henry Ruggs, but...here we are.
The Broncos have struggled to consistently put points on the board over the last five years. It's hard to say that Ruggs can just be instant offense, but his touchdown production -- as mentioned previously -- is indicative that Ruggs is about as instant-offense as it gets.
Imagining what the Broncos can do with this guy on the opposite side of the field from Courtland Sutton is a lot of fun.
We know Drew Lock likes to push the ball vertically, but Ruggs is equally capable of turning short passing plays into huge gains.
If this guy is the Broncos' top target offensively in this draft class, moving up for him and basically trading four players for one could be worth the price.
Red alert: back to back wide receiver picks.
Courtland Sutton. Henry Ruggs. Noah Fant. Jalen Reagor.
Now just imagine if the Broncos could open up the money bags for someone like Derrick Henry in free agency...
In order to compete with the Kansas City Chiefs for the foreseeable future, the Denver Broncos have to outscore the Kansas City Chiefs at least once or twice out of potentially three tries (playoffs) every year.
Adding a playmaker like Jalen Reagor after Henry Ruggs back-to-back in the same draft class seems like overkill, but the Broncos can't mess around. They have money to spend on the defensive side of the ball in free agency, and players like Ruggs and Reagor add desperately needed speed, quickness, and big play ability to the offense.
If the Broncos were to actually pull this off come draft weekend it would be outstanding.
It's hard to figure out how a target share would work between those four guys in the passing game, but does that really matter at this point?
The fact of the matter is, having Henry Ruggs and Jalen Reagor added to the offensive weaponry helps make it easier for the Broncos to score more points. Those are guys who can score from anywhere on the field.
Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant, no one else in the Broncos' passing game is capable of such a thing.
Adding Reagor and Ruggs would give the Broncos a wide variety of personnel groupings to make life tough on opposing defenses.
There are offensive linemen to be had at every turn of the page of this 2020 NFL Draft class.
One very intriguing player up front is Louisiana-Lafayette's four-year starter Robert Hunt.
Hunt is built like a vending machine at 6-foot-5, 325 pounds, and can play either guard or tackle at the next level. For the Broncos, I think he's capable of starting immediately at the guard position.
His functional athleticism and strength are huge assets and his experience is also critical. This is a guy who has played a lot of football over the last four years and he has proven tremendous versatility.
The Broncos need someone who could come in and start at right guard day one, but could also be comfortable enough to kick out and play tackle if he was asked to.
I believe Hunt is one of the top day two guys capable of doing that in this class.
Day Three Picks
Fifth round (projected compensatory pick): Reggie Robinson, CB, Tulsa
A super-talented athlete, Reggie Robinson III had a tremendous finish to his career at Tulsa with three interceptions and 13 pass breakups.
He has the athletic skills to be molded into a starting-caliber cornerback at the NFL level.
The Broncos add some depth to their secondary here on day three of the draft with both fourth-round picks gone via trade.
Sixth round: Trey Adams, OT, Washington
Although Adams has a concerning injury history, he's shown first-round talent at the left tackle position in the past.
After adding Robert Hunt earlier, the Broncos get another big body to try and develop on the offensive line in a deep draft class up front.
Seventh round: Darrion Daniels, DL, Nebraska
Nebraska has a few draft-eligible defensive linemen worth considering in the later rounds of the draft, but Daniels has intriguing size, strength, and athletic ability.
He could be molded under Vic Fangio and Bill Kollar into a tremendous asset up front with his energy on the interior.
Seventh round (projected compensatory pick): Tanner Muse, S/LB, Clemson
Although pretty much every other defender on Clemson's defense got the headlines, Tanner Muse has been a really key piece for them and he showed NFL-caliber athleticism at the Scouting Combine.
With four interceptions over the last two seasons along with 191 career tackles, Muse has the instincts and athleticism to be a top-flight special teams player and nickel/box safety at the NFL level.
Seventh round (projected compensatory pick): Javelin Guidry, CB, Utah
Running a 4.29 will certainly get you noticed.
Although Javelin Guidry has three years of production at Utah to stand on, he's going to be best known for his big-time speed.
How about starting and ending the 2020 NFL Draft with the two fastest guys in it on either side of the ball? This would be a fun way to end a defensive-centric day three of the 2020 NFL Draft.
This draft started off with the trade up for Henry Ruggs, which had a ripple effect on everything else that happened.
After snatching up both Ruggs and Jalen Reagor, the Broncos would be ready to put together a wide variety of personnel groupings while keeping their young guys fresh throughout the season and putting them in great positions to succeed.
Having four threats in the passing game like Sutton, Ruggs, Reagor, and Fant would be outstanding for any team, but paired with a young quarterback like Drew Lock, this crew has the potential and playmaking ability to truly contend with the Chiefs, which is what the Broncos are now desperately trying to do.
The trade for Ruggs made managing the rest of the draft class a bit difficult, and you have to project a little bit for free agency with some of these picks, but not having any selections between the third-round pick and the projected fifth-round compensatory pick would be a tough, long wait for the Broncos.
Fortunately, the Broncos have plenty of cap space to address those potential needs and this class still looks like it would be really strong on paper:
- Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama
- Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
- Robert Hunt, OT, Louisiana-Lafayette
- Reggie Robinson, CB, Tulsa
- Trey Adams, OT, Washington
- Darrion Daniels, DL, Nebraska
- Tanner Muse, S/LB, Clemson
- Javelin Guidry, CB, Utah
The Broncos could then go out and find some of the top values on the priority college free agent market like Colorado quarterback Steven Montez and bring them in to compete as well.
This draft would give John Elway eight picks to work with instead of the 11 he's projected after the trade for cornerback AJ Bouye. Even with two receivers up top, this is a strong class for the Broncos and assuming the team makes some waves in free agency, this could be a haul that ultimately pushes the team back over the playoff hump in 2020.