Henry Ruggs III 40 time: Can Alabama speedster break John Ross’ NFL Combine record?

Henry Ruggs III may have the most captivating performance at the 2020 NFL Combine this week. If he has it his way, it’ll barely last four seconds.

The Alabama receiver, considered to be one of the fastest players in college football, will participate in several events and position-specific workouts. None will draw more attention than the 40-yard dash, where he is expected to challenge for a new Combine record. Ruggs caught 98 passes for 1,716 yards and 24 touchdowns during his three-year collegiate career, but could further bolster his draft status with a strong showing in the 40 — especially if he runs as fast as Alabama teammate Trevon Diggs thinks he can:

“I feel like he’s going to run a 4.2,” Diggs told TMZ. “Somewhere around that range. That kid’s fast. When I be going against him in practice, it’s like, he’s got such tremendous speed, it’s crazy.”

That speed will be on full display this week — but we won’t find out if it’s record-breaking until Ruggs runs the event later this week. That day can’t get here fast enough. Until then, here’s a quick rundown of just how speedy Ruggs is.

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Henry Ruggs III 40 time

A 4.2-second 40-yard dash may seem overly ambitious, but Ruggs has already recorded a 40-yard dash near that mark: He ran a 4.25 at Alabama’s 2019 junior day, a full .04 seconds faster than the top time in the 2019 combine.

Adding to the impressive feat is the fact Ruggs was less than satisfied with his time:

“I didn’t really look for attention, they just told us to come up here and do that stuff and I just did what I had to do,” Ruggs told reporters (via Bama Insider). “It just so happens I came out with those numbers and I actually was kind of upset after I ran because I didn’t feel like I had a good start. But after they told me the numbers, I was like — I still feel like I can do better.”

He isn’t the only one who thinks he can improve on that time, either. Alabama teammate and fellow receiver Jerry Jeudy — projected as the top receiver in the draft — said Ruggs can improve on that in the combine:

Henry Ruggs III Alabama highlights

Straight-line speed is one thing, but Ruggs has shown superb game speed as well. For example, Ruggs had 12 receptions as a freshman at Alabama, six of which went for touchdowns. More impressively, his first five catches all went for scores, including one that went for 60 yards against Tennessee.

Ruggs followed that up in 2018 by posting career-highs in receptions (46) and touchdowns (11). He posted a career-high 746 receiving yards in 2019, finishing his Alabama career with an impressive 17.5-yards-per-catch average.

Here are some of the highlights that show just how fast Ruggs looks on the field (warning: explicit language used):

Fastest 40 time in NFL Combine history

The time Ruggs will attempt to break was set by Washington’s John Ross in the 2017 NFL Combine: He ran a 4.22 40, breaking Chris Johnson’s record of 4.24 from 2008. Ross went on to become the ninth overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, and the third receiver overall.

A look at Ross’ run:

Even if Ruggs is unable to improve from his 4.25 mark, that would still be good for third all-time in NFL Combine history, behind only Ross and Johnson.

When is Henry Ruggs’ Combine workout?

Ruggs — along with the rest of the receivers, quarterbacks and tight ends invited to Indianapolis — will complete his Combine workout on Thursday, Feb. 27. Workouts are scheduled from 4-11 p.m. ET.

Henry Ruggs 2020 NFL Draft projection

As it stands currently, Sporting News projects Ruggs to go No. 21 overall to the Eagles. From SN’s Vinnie Iyer:

The Eagles need more speed, quickness and big-play ability at wide receiver with Alshon Jeffery fading, DeSean Jackson aging (and hurting) and Nelson Agholor leaving. Ruggs (6-0, 190 pounds) fits the bill as a field-stretcher who also can use his route-running skills to win on shorter routes.

A strong showing at the combine, however, could potentially — and considerably — boost Ruggs’ stock.

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