The Raiders made Henry Ruggs the first wide receiver drafted last year, and early returns aren't good. He caught only 26 passes, outperformed in that regard by each of the next 10 wideouts selected -- vastly outperformed, of course, by many of them (Lamb, Jefferson, Higgins). Is a year 2 breakout on the horizon?
Vic Tafur of the Athletic sees some potential, if for no other reason than the Raiders wanting to make their initial investment look better than it currently does. With Nelson Agholor gone (Tyrell Williams too), Las Vegas need someone to step up. Free agent addition John Brown might be about as likely, but Ruggs will certainly get the opportunity to emerge.
The bad news is that the recent history of first wide receivers drafted isn't so great. An unusually high percentage of those players have disappointed, with a lot of out-and-out busts. The biggest stars from the last 20 years were elite prospects, selected in the top 5 picks. That's not Ruggs.
Of the 21 first wide receivers drafted this century, I count five superstars, and only one of those (Demaryius Thomas) wasn't selected in the top 5 picks. (The other four: Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green and Amari Cooper.) Perhaps DJ Moore is another. But the rest have been disappointments to varying degrees. Some flopped hard.
The Raiders have been the first team to draft a wide receiver three times in the last dozen years. To this point, one of those guys has hit. Too bad they traded him to Dallas.
In the table, players who went over 1,000 yards in either their first or second seasons are in bold. And they're in the distinct minority.
|1ST WIDE RECEIVER DRAFTED, 2000-PRESENT|
|2020||12||Henry Ruggs, L.V.||26||452||2||?||?||?|
|2019||25||Marquise Brown, Balt.||46||584||7||58||769||8|
|2018||24||D.J. Moore, Car.||55||788||2||87||1175||4|
|2017||5||Corey Davis, Tenn.||34||375||0||65||891||4|
|2016||15||Corey Coleman, Clev.||33||413||3||23||305||2|
|2015||4||Amari Cooper, Oak.||72||1070||6||83||1153||5|
|2014||4||Sammy Watkins, Buff.||65||982||6||60||1047||9|
|2013||8||Tavon Austin, St.L.||40||418||6||31||242||3|
|2012||5||Justin Blackmon, Jac.||64||865||5||29||415||1|
|2011||4||A.J. Green, Cin.||65||1057||7||97||1350||11|
|2010||22||Demaryius Thomas, Den.||22||283||2||32||551||4|
|2009||7||Darrius Heyward-Bey, Oak.||9||124||1||26||366||1|
|2008||33||Donnie Avery, St.L.||53||674||3||47||589||5|
|2007||2||Calvin Johnson, Det.||48||756||5||78||1331||12|
|2006||25||Santonio Holmes, Pitt.||49||824||3||52||942||8|
|2005||3||Braylon Edwards, Clev.||32||512||3||61||884||6|
|2004||3||Larry Fitzgerald, Ariz.||58||780||8||103||1409||10|
|2003||2||Charles Rogers, Det.||22||243||3||0||0||0|
|2002||13||Donte Stallworth, N.O.||42||594||8||25||485||3|
|2001||8||David Terrell, Chi.||34||415||4||9||127||3|
|2000||4||Peter Warrick, Cin.||51||592||7||70||667||1|
Nobody should be giving up on Ruggs, who's a talented guy -- possible he puts things together in year 2 or even 3, like Thomas did. But you're relying on the team figuring out how best to use him, and him bucking the history of those previous top picks. Odds don't look favorable.