Potential WR options for Cardinals shine at combine, Ruggs runs 4.27 40
Thursday marked the start of the NFL Scouting Combine, and Arizona Cardinals fans were invested more than usual to see the drills, particularly how quick the crop of wide receivers were.
A class of wideouts that could have potentially six first-round picks (and maybe more) performed well. Those are names that could be in the mix for the Cardinals with either the eighth overall pick or the top-half of the second round at No. 40 to give Kyler Murray a signature weapon.
The eyes were on Alabama wideout Henry Ruggs III the most. Ruggs declared his goal to run the fastest 40-yard dash time ever and the expectation from some was that he would be able to reach the sub-4.3 area, which few ever have.
Ruggs had been evaluated as a bubble first-rounder before the combine and now moves way up after posting the fastest 40 at his position of 4.27, with a top-five vertical of 42 inches as well. He becomes the 15th player in the history of the combine to run under a 4.3.
Ruggs is more about being impactful than prolific. Over three years with the Crimson Tide, he’s got only 98 total catches, but 24 of them were touchdowns. He averaged over 18 yards per reception in 2019.
While the top of the wide receiver class is expected to be Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb and Ruggs’ college teammate Jerry Jeudy, Ruggs now becomes someone with momentum to threaten to go in the top-20 or even higher.
As for Jeudy and Lamb, who both met with the Cardinals at the combine, they were steady. Jeudy ran a strong 4.45 40-yard dash with a 35-inch vertical while Lamb was at a 4.50 40-yard dash and a 34.5-inch vertical.
Lamb is slated as a top-10 pick while Jeudy could go there as well. Those two were considered before the combine as the two locks to go in the first round at the position along with TCU’s Jalen Reagor. He matched Ruggs on the impressive vertical at 42 inches and ran a strong 4.47 40-yard dash to boot.
Elsewhere among wideouts, Justin Jefferson was one of the big names for scouts in terms of the 40. Catching balls from Joe Burrow in arguably the best offense college football has ever seen, Jefferson had 111 receptions, 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns receiving in his junior year.
The Louisiana State product has decent size at 6-foot-1 and 202 pounds, but there were doubts on tape about his overall speed and athleticism.
Jefferson ran an unofficial 4.44 that was bumped up to a 4.43, which assuredly locks him in the first round according to experts.
On the other side of that, Clemson’s Tee Higgins did not participate in the athletic testing, and the nearly 6-foot-4 wideout was someone who could have gotten a bump like Jefferson had he run a decent time in that same range.
Alas, Higgins won’t get that until he assumingly runs at his pro day. He’s on the edge of the first round and could potentially be a name to keep an eye on slipping into round two for the Cardinals if they prefer a big target for Murray at the position.
Lastly, Arizona State’s Brandon Aiyuk got the work done he was supposed to. He ran a 4.5 40-yard dash and had a 40-inch vertical. Like Higgins, Aiyuk could be a name that slides to round two.