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Alabama Football 2016 NFL Draft Profiles: Derrick Henry

Heisman? Check. Freak of nature? Check. First round pick... Maybe?

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Derrick Henry

Position: Running Back

Age: 22

Height: 6'2" 1/2

Weight: 247

Arm Length: 33 in.

Hand Width: 8.75 in.

Wingspan: 80.75 in.

40-Yard Dash: 4.54s

20-Yard Split: 2.67s

10-Yard Split: 1.60s

Short Shuttle: 4.38s

Three Cone: 7.2s

Bench Press: 22

Vertical Jump: 37 in.

Broad Jump: 10.83 ft.

SPARQ*: 132.7

Z-Score*: 0.9

*Note: These values were calculated by Zach Whitman of and A higher SPARQ score means that player is more athletic. A positive Z-score means that the athlete has above average athleticism for an NFL player at his position, and a negative means that he is below average. If you want a more in depth explanation, here is my previous article.

2015 Statistics

Carries: 395

Yards: 2,219

Average: 5.6

Touchdowns: 28

Receptions: 11

Yards: 91

Heismans: 1


After breaking virtually every rushing record imaginable in high school, many wanted Derrick Henry to play linebacker in college. His 6'3" 240 pound body just didn't fit the mold of prototypical college running back. Fortunately, Henry didn't listen. He went on to again break all kinds of rushing records at Alabama, including the SEC's single season rushing yards record set by Herschel Walker himself. He's more athletic than 82% of NFL running backs, posting insane jumping and speed marks for someone his size. Henry is an absolute freak of nature.

Though easily the biggest running back in this draft, Henry does not necessarily play like it. The massive man is at his best when he can get into open field and build up speed. When in a full sprint, there is not a player in the entire country that can catch him. On top of that, he shows surprising ability to change directions and spin defenders around when he is at top speed, making those safeties waiting for him at the last level practically helpless.

With his long arms, he also possesses a nasty stiff arm to keep defenders away when they come at him from the side. When needed in short yardage, Henry will change styles and go into what I like to call "submarine mode," where he uses his great length and weight to dive forward for a consistent 3-4 yard gain.

Though often cited as one of his biggest weaknesses by critics, Henry is actually quite deadly in the passing game. He can still be a bit inconsistent, but we've seen him pancake blitzing linebackers as a blocker. And while he only caught 9 passes this season, many forget what happened when he was thrown the ball in his previous two years: 6 catches for 194 yards (33 yards per catch) and 3 touchdowns.

Perhaps more impressive than everything is his inhuman stamina. Henry took over 40 carries in a game multiple times in 2015, and never looked even slightly winded, seeming to only get more energy with every carry.


Henry's height does work against him. His center of gravity is really high, and he struggles with leverage and balance at times. When met behind the line of scrimmage before he has built up speed, he rarely ever is able to avoid a tackler. In fact, he's gone down on first contact in the backfield almost 78% of the time this season. He doesn't hit holes quickly, instead taking his time to build his speed and finding the most uncontested running lanes, which leads to a boom-or-bust run style. He's either breaking off huge plays, or getting tackled for a loss... There seems to be no in between.


Derrick Henry's unique skill set makes him a bad fit for many teams in the league. He'll fit much better with a team that employs a zone blocking scheme and stretch plays to get him into space. He's projected to go anywhere from late in the first round to the end of the second, and the media can't seem to get a good idea of where that will be.

He's taken official visits to the Seattle Seahawks, Carolina Panthers, and Dallas Cowboys. Seattle and Carolina both pick at the end of 1st round, while Dallas is at the top of the second. Seattle is looking to replace the recently retired Marshawn Lynch, but their offense line woes likely require a running back that can dodge an average of 5 defenders in the backfield per play. Carolina has Jonathan Stewart, but the big back from Oregon is closing in on 30, and Henry could be viewed as a replacement.

Dallas seems like the best fit. They could already have a high first round pick to fill a more dire need, and then grab Henry at the top of the second round to run behind the NFL's best offensive line. The Houston Texans, New York Jets, and Minnesota Vikings are also potential fits for the polarizing back.