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Should the Broncos trade up for Henry Ruggs III?

History has shown it’s foolish.

Alabama v Auburn
Elway’s love for Ruggs is well known.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

By this point in the NFL Draft process there’s little doubt you’ve seen a mock draft or two. Chances are, one of them had Alabama’s Henry Ruggs III landing with the Broncos at 15. It’s been an obvious pairing after Elway expressed a need to add speed to the offense at his 2019 season ending press conference.

Henry Ruggs makes a ton of sense to pair with Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant. He’s a dynamic receiver who ran a blazing 4.27 40-yard dash. I’m not here to tell you he’s just a speed guy either, after all he’s my WR2 in this entire draft class.

Unfortunately for many in Broncos Country, there’s been persistent rumors since the NFL Combine that teams like the Eagles are trying to trade above 15 to get him. Even if they don’t, there’s also reports suggesting the New York Jets will consider him at 11.

This has led some to argue that Ruggs is worth a trade up to secure his services. I’m not so sure.

What would a trade cost?

If you’re assuming the Broncos can trade up to 10 in order to jump the Jets at 11, there’s recent history to guide the price. In 2018 Steve Keims of the Arizona Cardinals traded #15, #77, and a fifth round pick in order to move up to 10th overall to select UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen.

There’s only two problems with that scenario.

1. The Browns have been considered a lock for a top tackle if it is at all possible. Assuming one of the prospects they like are available, the Broncos would need to move up even further. Perhaps a trade for Trent Williams or signing Jason Peters in free agency changes their trajectory, or maybe all of the tackles they want are gone at 10 and they look to move down. If you’re counting on Cleveland these are things to root for.

2. If the Eagles or another team is also seeking to move ahead of New York, a bidding war could ensue.

The root of both scenarios come down to cost. If the Broncos do wind up needing to move up, the next teams that make some sense as trade partners are the Carolina Panthers at 7, the New York Giants at 4 if you believe Dave Gettleman will trade down for the first time in his career, or the Detroit Lions at 3. According to Drafttek’s Trade Value chart it would take about 450 points, or the equivalent of the Broncos’ pick at 46.

Would you pay a premium for 4.2 speed?

This raises an important question: is Henry Ruggs so much better than the rest of this receiving class that he justifies two top 50 selections, or three top 100 picks? When I’ve asked “whatever it takes” believers this, they cite how he could impact the offense. Words like “transformative speed,” “upside” and “gamebreaker” are often thrown around.

Once again it feels pertinent to mention how I have Ruggs as a top three receiver in this class, but it isn’t like he comes without a couple concerns. For all his speed he doesn’t always separate from defenders in coverage as you’d expect. In particular, beating physical coverage was an issue against teams like LSU. Both of these issues could make for more contested catches in the NFL, something that wasn’t a strength of his in college. He also left Alabama’s bowl game with a concussion, suffered a non-contact injury in September, missed a game in November and played through bruised ribs in the regular season finale.

Having watched as much of the receiver class as I have, it isn’t like Jalen Reagor, Brandon Aiyuk, Denzel Mims, Gabriel Davis or even John Hightower are slow. All could bring a vertical element to the Broncos offense. While Ruggs looks like the most complete receiver of these prospects right now, I wonder if that justifies losing out on a round two tackle, cornerback, linebacker, or guard.


Should Elway trade into the top 10 for Henry Ruggs?

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