Derrick Henry has above average size for a linebacker, above average speed for a safety, and a pretty decent vertical for an NBA power forward. That is to say, dude is an athlete.
Oh, and he’s pretty good at this football thing. He comes from the Tuscaloosa Running Back Mill. And even among his Crimson Tide peers, he stands out. He didn’t get much work as a freshman in 2013 behind sophomores T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake, but he still managed to rush for 382 yards and three touchdowns on only 35 carries. As a true sophomore in 2014, he and Yeldon posted virtually identical rushing stats (979 yards and 11 TDs for Yeldon; 990 yards and 11 TDs for Henry), but Yeldon needed 22 more attempts than Henry to reach those numbers (172 for Henry; 194 for Yeldon).
[am4show have=’g1;’ guest_error=’sub_message’ user_error=’sub_message’ ]
As a junior, Henry went berserk. He carried the ball a Larry Johnson-esque 395 times for 2219 yards (good for fifth-most since 1956) and 28 TDs (tied for eighth-most since 1956). Not surprisingly, he won all the awards, including that trophy with the guy carrying a football and stiff-arming an imaginary foe.
But you’re not playing in a retroactive collegiate fantasy football league. So let’s talk about Henry’s professional prospects. First, a look at his measurables, courtesy of MockDraftable.com.
I done told you he was big. Henry’s comparables aren’t overwhelming, but Leshoure and Wells were injury casualties, and anyone with Adrian Peterson as a physical comparable deserves a close look. Perhaps most impressive is Henry’s broad jump, which corroborates the power and burst he shows on the field. Alas, his performances in agility drills also confirm the weaknesses in Henry’s game.
Predicting injury is foolish, but Henry’s 395-carry performance in 2015 suggests he’s rugged enough to withstand an NFL workload.
For a second perspective on metrics, let’s take a look at his profile on PlayerProfiler.com:
No red flags here. His dominator rating is as high as you would expect, and his YPC and breakout age are satisfactory. Agility score is low, but we already knew that.
Henry’s performance against Ole Miss represents his power and functional speed, as well as his limited change-of-direction ability. However, it also over-represents Henry’s work in the passing game. That was intentional. If Henry is going to be an elite dynasty asset in PPR leagues, he’ll have to show much more in the passing game as a pro than he did at Alabama. Even against Ole Miss, he was competent, but far from spectacular. Running back specialization is the norm in the NFL, so there’s reason to doubt whether any team will even give Henry the opportunity to improve and showcase his receiving skills. And that’s on top of the doubt of whether he can develop into even an average receiving back.
Henry’s reasonably optimistic comparison is a more explosive Michael Turner. If he’s drafted to a good team with a commitment to a strong running game, he could match or surpass Turner’s consistently high touchdown totals with the Falcons. Seattle or Carolina would be ideal fits. If he lands with a team like this before the fourth round of the NFL draft, he should be in consideration anywhere after 1.02 in your rookie draft.