2016 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Derrick Henry

  • Derrick Henry, 6-2/247

  • Running Back

  • Alabama

  • Derrick Henry Scouting Report
    By Charlie Campbell

  • Power runner; physically imposing
  • Straight-line speed
  • Surprising ability to break off long runs
  • Can run away from defensive backs when he gets in the open field
  • Burst to the hole and second level
  • One-cut, downhill runner
  • Great power to run through tackles
  • Runs over defenders
  • Impossible to arm tackle
  • Rarely ever goes down on first contact
  • Gets yards after contact
  • Finishes runs well
  • Good balance
  • Has a nose for the end zone
  • Wears down defenses
  • Developed blocking and pass protection
  • Capable of controlling games
  • Runs well in the second half
  • Impactful short-yardage back
  • Can change the complexion of an offense as a physical runner
  • Experienced and successful against good college programs
  • Ready to play immediately

  • Weaknesses:
  • Very tall
  • Runs high; doesn’t run behind his pads
  • Lacks elusiveness
  • Stiff runner
  • Lacks ability to cut by/juke defenders
  • Smaller hands (8.75)
  • On the heavy side, should drop some weight

  • Summary: Over the past few years, Alabama has been a factory for NFL running backs. There have been some good (Eddie Lacy), bad (Glenn Coffee because of retirement after one year) and ugly (Trent Richardson). Mark Ingram has been decent, while T.J. Yeldon looks like he is on his way to being a good pro back – if he can stay healthy. The debate on which category Henry will end up in is going to be roaring throughout the leadup to the 2016 NFL Draft and beyond. With Yeldon in the NFL in 2015, Henry took over as the starter and turned in a tremendous season as he dominated the SEC. The junior won the Heisman Trophy and carried the Alabama offense on his back.

    Henry averaged 5.62 yards per carry (395 carries) in 2015 for 2,219 yards with 28 touchdowns with 11 receptions for 91 yards. Late in the year, he ran over opponents like Auburn, Texas A&M and LSU. Henry totaled 90 carries in his last two regular-season games. He had four games over 200 yards during the regular season and was only the third back in SEC history to accomplish that.

    As a runner, Henry is not the normal running back prospect. He is extremely tall, and that impacts his rushing style. Henry runs very high and doesn’t get low to run behind his pads. He also is a straight-line runner who has almost no wiggle. Henry isn’t shifty and doesn’t juke defenders; he just runs through them or by them. Under Nick Saban, Alabama has developed a reputation with some NFL evaluators of running its players into the ground and sending them beat up with injuries into the NFL. Henry’s huge total of carries in 2015 could bother some teams.

    While Henry is not a shifty runner, he is a physical beast. Henry runs through defenders and breaks tackles routinely. He powers through a defense and picks up lots of yards after contact. The large back finishes his runs well and is tough in short-yardage, too. Henry also gets better as the game progresses. He beats up defenses and is at his best in the second half.

    What is really rare about Henry is the second gear of speed to run away from defenses. He isn’t just a plodding power back. This season, Henry had a number of surprising runs where he just bolted downfield and, surprisingly, ran away from defensive backs, who are generally the fastest players on the field. Henry showed that he has quality speed in the 40 at the combine, but in the games, you could see him running away from defensive backs and not being caught from behind.

    In the passing game, Henry has flashed some receiving talent, but Alabama really never used him there. He was impressive in blitz protection though, so he could have three-down potential.

    For the NFL, Henry would fit best in a zone-blocking system where he could be a one-cut downhill runner. Henry could function in a power-man scheme, but a zone scheme could be his best fit.

    Despite it being between the regular season and the 2016 NFL Draft, Henry does not have a consensus draft grade. Two teams said they graded Henry as a late first-round pick. They feel that his combination of power and speed makes him worthy of going in the first round. Two other teams said they him as a second-round pick, and one national scout said they had him with a 2/3 grade (late second-round/early third-round). A lot can change during the leadup to a draft with the NFL Scouting Combine and pro-day workouts. Thus, Henry could go in the first round and shouldn’t fall lower than the third.

    Player Comparison: Brandon Jacobs. Sources with multiple teams have compared Henry to Jacobs, and there are obvious parallels between them. Jacobs (6-4, 264) and Henry are both extremely tall for running backs. They also have a downhill running style with physicality. Henry could have a faster second gear than Jacobs. Another similar running back to Henry is Titans great Eddie George (6-3, 235), but George ran lower and had more shiftiness. In the NFL, Henry’s closest comparison would be Jacobs, the Giants’ all-time leader in rushing touchdown.

    NFL Matches: Houston, Carolina, Arizona, New England, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Tennessee, New York Jets, Miami, Washington, Chicago and Tampa Bay

    There are a lot of teams that would be in the market for a running back help in the offseason.

    The Texans could be the most running back-needy team in the NFL entering the 2016 offseason. Arian Foster is incapable of staying healthy and could be a cap casualty. Houston could use a workhorse back to lead its offense, and Henry would be an immediate upgrade.

    Staying in the AFC South, the Titans’ running backs were a huge weakness in 2015. The team needs a running back upgrade badly. At the top of the second round, Henry could be an impactful pick who would help Marcus Mariota.

    Carolina got a good season out of Jonathan Stewart, but he has been injury-prone and is nearing the 30-year mark. Henry could provide the Panthers with more bang for their buck than other players available late in the first round. A large, physical runner like Henry would go well with Carolina’s big quarterback, tight end and receivers.

    Arizona could consider Henry to pair with David Johnson. The Cardinals have a good roster, so adding another runner to help make Carson Palmer’s job easier as he ages could make a lot of sense. Chris Johnson was a nice pick-up, but he’s not a long-term partner to go with David Johnson.

    If Henry gets to the Patriots’ second-round pick, that could be interesting. He could be an upgraded version of LeGarrette Blount as Henry has more skill than Blount in the passing game. Dion Lewis will be coming off a serious injury as well.

    Likewise on the second day of the 2016 NFL Draft, Pittsburgh could consider Henry as a complement to Le’Veon Bell. Bell will be coming off an injury, while DeAngelo Williams is only a short-term stop gap.

    The Seahawks could take Henry as a replacement for Marshawn Lynch. Henry would give them another back to pair with Thomas Rawls.

    The Dolphins (Lamar Miller), Jets (Chris Ivory), Bears (Matt Forte), Redskins (Alfred Morris), and Buccaneers (Doug Martin) have starting backs entering free agency. If they lose their starter, they could use another back. However all those teams have bigger needs and some of them have talented young backups who could be their long-term starters. Thus, Henry would be more of a consideration on the second day if one of those teams loses their starter in free agency.


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