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2-for-3: Alabama’s Ruggs enters the draft, Smith stays in school

Remember when the Ole Miss wide receiver trio of A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf and Damarkus Lodge were supposed to be high draft picks and take the NFL by storm?

One year later, that’s only partially true.

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Brown and Metcalf wound up being selected in the second round, with Brown going to Tennessee at pick No. 19 and Metcalf going to Seattle with the last pick of the round.

Nonetheless, the duo is enjoying stellar rookie seasons (and both players’ teams are still in the playoffs). Brown (52 receptions for 1,051 yards and 8 touchdowns) and Metcalf (58 receptions for 900 yards and 7 touchdowns) have combined for 110 receptions for 1,951 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Lodge, meanwhile, went undrafted and is now on Cincinnati’s practice squad.

Perhaps that was the backdrop Alabama receiver DeVonta Smith was looking at when the junior announced this week that he was returning to school.

The announcement came on the same day his quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, and wide receiver teammate Henry Ruggs III officially declared their intentions to enter the 2020 NFL draft.

The fact Ruggs and teammate Jerry Jeudy are forgoing their seniors years doesn’t come as a surprise. Jeudy (6-foot-1, 192) has long been thought to be one of the top receivers, while Ruggs (6-0, 190) is considered one of the fastest players in the draft. Jeudy closed out his season with 77 receptions for 1,163 yards and 10 touchdowns. Ruggs had 40 receptions for 746 yards and 7 TDs.

Smith’s decision, though, is a bit of a surprise. The 6-1, 175-pound junior had a breakout year in 2019, leading his team in receiving yards (1,256) and receiving TDs (14), while his 68 receptions were second.

Still, Smith and true sophomore teammate Jaylen Waddle have the chance to give Alabama the top receiving duo in the 2021 draft, much like the Jeudy-Ruggs pairing in the current draft.

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