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2016 NFL Draft: Derrick Henry Scouting Report

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What can the reigning Heisman Trophy winner bring to the Titans' backfield?

Derrick Henry. He and MM8 can compare Heisman Trophies together in their spare time
Derrick Henry. He and MM8 can compare Heisman Trophies together in their spare time
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Player name: Derrick Henry

H/W: 6'3 247

Position: Running Back

School/Class: Alabama / Junior

Measureables: 4.54 40, 37" vertical jump, 10' 10" broad jump, 7.20 3 cone,

The Tape

2015 vs Florida

2015 vs Clemson (title game)

2015 vs Michigan State

2015 vs Georgia

Pros:

Athleticism - Henry has a surprising amount of quickness and burst through the hole than most give him credit for. He's not your typical big back that would be limited as a situational runner. While not a quick twitch athlete like the smaller backs, he has some "wiggle" inside the tackles and knows how to make himself a smaller (well as far as 6'3 247 can get) target to hit. Footwork is excellent and he doesn't take many false steps. The footwork allows him to side step oncoming defenders looking for that big hit on most occasions. A long strider that gets better with more reps. Uses his brute strength to break the will of the defense.

Vision / IQ - He is one of the best instinctual runners in the class. Knows when to take what the defense gives him in short gains and when to use his underrated athleticism for the long runs. Due to his taller stature, he can see the holes develop a lot quicker in the similar vein of a quarterback looking over the defense. Knows what he is and doesn't stray far from his role as the workhorse (i.e. the Chris Johnson dance craze).

Pass blocking - While not the most technically proficient blocker out there, he does more than most backs in terms of pass protection. A willing blocker that takes on the defender head on instead of diving for the knees. Granted, he wasn't asked much to do some pass pro, he did very well in this aspect of his game when called upon. I watched most of his games live and on tape, he rarely had a missed assignment during my studies.

Work ethic / Character - On point so no worries there. No character concerns with him whatsoever. Henry basically lived in the Crimson Tide football facilities working out and watching film. A humble guy even with all of his all world credentials.

Cons:

Workload - In a word, heavy. He carried the ball a whopping 602 times in three years, with 395 of those coming in 2015. What's worse is that he touched the ball 90 times in the last two games against Michigan State and Clemson. Some of the carries could've been distributed a lot better to his backups in meaningless late game situations. Alabama's offensive identity is to break the will of a already broken opposing defense and Henry was the tip of the spear. The good news is that Henry rarely got fatigued from his immense workload nor did he fumble much.

Receiving - You'd have a better chance of seeing Kendall Wright maintaining his balance for a full route than seeing Henry catching a pass. That's how rare Alabama used him in the pass game. It's not to say that he can't catch, just an odd sighting when it happens (watch his first play from scrimmage be a 60 yard touchdown catch on a wheel route just to spite me writing this). Caught a total of 19 passes in his collegiate career.

Additional notes

I specifically chose to go over the Florida, Clemson, and to a certain degree, the Michigan State games as all three defenses had major NFL ready talent bent on stopping Henry. Out of the three, Florida had the most success containing Henry before finally capitulating because they gave out trying to support an anemic offense. Michigan State tried to stop him and succeeded in doing for about a half before giving up themselves.

Fun facts

Henry was a five star recruit that broke the all time high school career rushing record with 12,124 yards to go with 153 touchdowns before signing with Alabama. He won every possible award given to a running back in 2015, winning the Heisman, Doak Walker (for best RB), Maxwell, Walter Camp (both are MVP awards given out by differing media), and a national title to boot. Henry was ranked as the number one recruit by EAPN in 2012.

Final Summary

At first, I was shocked like many by the pick but grew to love it as time has gone on. It's clear what the Titans are trying to do in their offensive gameplan even though some are skeptical. While I do have concerns about Henry's workload while at Alabama, he won't be asked to be the bellcow back in Nashville to start off. He can come in and spell DeMarco Murray when he needs a breather and it keeps both guys fresh for the fourth quarter to pound away at the defense. I think he emerges as a third down and red zone back in 2016 before assuming full starting duties in 2017. The preconceived notion that Henry needs an exclusively I or single back two tight end formation look to succeed is a false one. He's had plenty of success under Lane Kiffin's revamped "modernized" Tide offense that has a lot of pistol and shotgun looks. It's not like he's completely foreign to Marcus Mariota's favored shotgun formations so the idea that both guys' skillsets won't fit together needs to disappear as well.

Previous Reports

Michigan State OT Jack Conklin

Clemson DE / OLB Kevin Dodd

Penn State DT Austin Johnson

Note: My apologies for taking so long in getting this report out. I recently had my work schedule changed so it threw the timing off a bit but everything should be back on track.