INDIANAPOLIS — You might have heard the wide receiver class in the 2020 NFL Draft is considered one of the best of all time. It will also be one of the fastest.
Alabama’s Henry Ruggs, TCU’s Jalen Reagor and Texas’ Devin Duvernay are all candidates to break John Ross’ 40-yard dash record of 4.22 seconds at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine.
Ruggs is considered a mid-first-round prospect who could fall to the Patriots at No. 23 overall. Reagor is expected to be selected late in the first round. Duvernay is a mid-round prospect.
If the Patriots are looking to add a speedy weapon in the mold of Kansas City Chiefs wide receivers Tyreek Hill or Mecole Hardman, this is the right draft to do it. None of the wide receivers on the Patriots’ roster — Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, Jakobi Meyers, Gunner Olszewski and Mohamed Sanu — are burners.
Ruggs, who’s 5-foot-11, 188 pounds, met with the Patriots on Monday night. So, there’s some degree of interest there. He said plans to break Ross’ record with a sub-4.22-second 40.
“I feel like I bring everything,” Ruggs said Tuesday. “I’m a playmaker. I don’t just pride myself on just speed. I want to be a guy can do everything on the field. I get downfield to block for my teammates, just as they do the same for me. I play without the ball, and with the ball in my hands I can make a play.”
Ruggs caught 40 passes for 744 yards with seven touchdowns in 2019. He spent 97 of his 527 snaps in the slot. He dropped just one pass in 2019, per Pro Football Focus’ draft guide. He also ran the ball twice for 75 yards with a touchdown and returned 12 kicks for 286 yards.
Reagor, who’s 5-foot-11, 206 pounds, said Tuesday that he plans to beat Ruggs in the 40-yard-dash. He hadn’t met with the Patriots as of Tuesday but said he could envision himself in their offense.
“Absolutely because I’m very versatile,” Reagor said. “So, wherever you would need me on the field, I feel like I can thrive.”
Reagor caught 43 passes for 611 yards with five touchdowns in 2019 but had a 1,000-yard season in 2018. Reagor spent 113 of 784 snaps in the slot, per PFF. He had seven total drops. He also ran the ball 35 times for 324 yards with two touchdowns and returned 23 punts for 409 yards with a touchdown in three college seasons.
Duvernay, who’s 5-foot-10, 200 pounds, plans to run in the 4.3s in the 40-yard dash. He spent 741 of 761 snaps in the slot, per PFF, which was new for him. He lined up out wide on 94 percent of his snaps in 2018 and 92 percent in 2017. He likes playing inside, however.
“You go deep, you go short, you get in the screen game, be in the backfield, things like that,” Duvernay said. “I like doing that, things to get the ball in your hands early, make a play, run after the catch.”
Duvernay caught 105 passes for 1,392 yards with nine touchdowns in 2019. He had an absurd 81.4 catch rate and dropped just three passes. He forced 23 missed tackles and caught 12 deep passes for 432 yards with four scores. He also caught 42 screen passes for 251 yards. He ran the ball 10 times for 24 yards with a touchdown and returned 10 kicks for 205 yards.
The Patriots selected Harry in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see them use another high pick on a wideout this spring. If the Patriots pass on a first-rounder like Ruggs or Reagor, then Duvernay, SMU’s James Proche or Kentucky’s Lynn Bowden Jr. could be a solid mid-round consolation prize.
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