Just How Good is Derrick Henry?
It's no secret that the goliath sized running back, often referred to as "El Tractorcito", is the best in the NFL right now. Derrick Henry has completely taken the league by storm since 2019, dominating opposing defenses with an unheralded combination of strength, size and speed.
Standing at a hulking 6-foot-3, 247 lbs., the Yulee, FL native is clearly head and shoulders above his competition, but just how good is he?
Well, allow me to put it into perspective.
Comparing Henry against other current running backs, a consistent trend begins to emerge. Henry's yards after contact so far exceed any other back that he could have secured consecutive rushing titles on that stat alone.
Since 2019, Henry's first rushing title, the Titans' star has 3,717 yards after contact, more than any other back has total rushing yards in that span. To further put that mind-blowing statistic into perspective, the league's second leading rusher in that span, Nick Chubb, is more than 600 yards behind.
ESPN began tracking yards after contact in 2009, and since that season, no other running back has finished with more yards after contact than the rest of the NFL has total rushing yards; only King Henry.
The dominance does not stop there; however. While it may not come as a surprise, Henry is a scoring machine as well, finding the endzone 43 times since 2019, 19 more than Nick Chubb in second place.
Some of you may be looking at these stats and not be surprised to find out that a running back larger than most of his competition finds success after contact, but that is a somewhat misconception.
See, Henry is not only bigger than most of his competition, he's faster.
On Monday Night Football against the Bills in week 6, Henry displayed his lighting fast speed on a 76-yard rush that found him in the endzone yet again. Breaking through the line, seemingly untouched, the sixth year back exploded past the secondary, leaving behind a trail of dust and perplexed defenders.
Again, to put that further into perspective, Henry topped out at a whopping speed of 21.80 mph on that run, the fastest by any player, at any position, this season.
Derrick Henry is truly a back like no other. His ability to run over linebackers while outrunning safeties alone proves that, but again, allow me to detail just how good Henry really is as a running back.
In the modern NFL, most running backs are expected to be versatile. That versatility typically comes in the form of being able to effectively catch passes out of the backfield, and for many, that is the gripe with Henry's game.
In three years at Alabama, Henry caught just 17 passes, and prior to 2021 averaged 15.2 receptions per year. Through six games this season, the ever-evolving back has already hauled in 16 passes, showing off his improved receiving skills.
Even six years into his career, Henry continues to incorporate new aspects to his game. While there are certainly running backs in the NFL that are better options out of the backfield, names like Christian McCaffrey or Alvin Kamara are typically brought up, there is something those backs simply cannot do that Henry can.
Since being drafted in 2016, Henry has missed just two games, a far cry from the likes of McCaffrey, Kamara or any other top backs who have all missed multiple games with injuries.
There is no refuting that Henry is simply the best running back in the NFL, and quite possibly one of the best of all-time. Although just a few short years into his reign, King Henry has secured his place among NFL greats, and has shown zero signs of slowing down.
Coming off a 2,000 yard season in 2020 and an offseason which saw Tennessee sign Julio Jones, many expected Henry's production to see a slight dip. Through the first six games of this season; however, Henry is on pace to break the current record for single season carries and has been relied on by the Titans more than ever.
For the man once thought of as a bust, I'd say he's pretty damn good.