Here's How Alabama Replaces Jerry Jeudy & Henry Ruggs in 2020 Passing Attack

By David Hayes
Alabama WRs Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle are both returning to the Crimson Tide for the 2020 season.
Alabama WRs Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle are both returning to the Crimson Tide for the 2020 season. / Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

The Alabama Crimson Tide are losing some heavy hitters to the 2020 NFL Draft, there's really no way to sugar coat it. The Tide are currently projected to account for between five and six guys in the first round alone, and the first of four those are likely all coming from the offensive side of the ball.

Of course, this comes with the territory when you've been recruiting and fielding some of the most talented college football teams in the country for more than a decade. But that's not to say we've seen the last of normalized three-receiver sets that have powered an explosive passing attack in Tuscaloosa, though.

Mac Jones is no Tua Tagovailoa, but with the way that top WR prospects Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III have been stealing headlines lately, his potential paired with Bama's key returning wideouts have really been flying under the radar.

Jeudy and Ruggs will be first-round picks in the NFL by this time next month, but rising senior DeVonta Smith and rising junior Jaylen Waddle are both coming back to Tuscaloosa for the 2020 season.

Smith's decision to return was somewhat of a surprise, but a major win for the Tide nonetheless. Even though Ruggs' NFL Scouting Combine-best 4.27 40-yard dash has catapulted him up draft boards, Smith actually had a much bigger impact on Bama's passing game last season. Nobody had more receiving yards (1,256) nor caught more TDs (14) than Smith in 2019, Jeudy included, and his 68 catches were the second-highest total on the roster.

Waddle played much more of a true fourth option behind Smith, Jeudy and Ruggs, but bearing that responsibility for an offense as potent as Alabama's still yielded 33 receptions for 560 yards and 6 TDs – one fewer than Ruggs' 7.

Alabama Football Depth Chart 2020

As for new faces that will need to step up and assume the holes left by Ruggs and Waddle at the No. 3 and No. 4 spots, look for rising sophomore and former 4-star recruit John Metchie III to fill in at the Z.

Rising redshirt junior and former 4-star recruit Tyrell Shavers is also likely to take on a bigger role behind DeVonta Smith at the X spot as well. Redshirt sophomore and former 3-star recruit Slade Bolden could also see more game action at the Y position too.

Among those three newer faces, Bolden actually saw the most action last season, playing seven games, while Metchie hauled in the most receptions (4). All in all, Metchie, Bolden and Shavers combined for 7 catches, 77 yards and 0 TDs last season. However, you should expect those numbers to look significantly different by the end of 2020.

Considering the Tide still have the third-best odds (+500) to win the 2021 College Football Playoff, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, it doesn't seem like the oddsmakers are too worried about a potential regression in the offense's potency this year either.

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David Hayes is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, David Hayes also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username DavidWHayes. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.