After the Tennessee Titans unexpectedly released veteran running back, DeMarco Murray, all eyes shifted to the former Heisman Trophy winner sitting next on the depth chart. Only two seasons into his career, Derrick Henry has managed to relish when given opportunities, and the hype surrounding him has built monumentally in doing so.
Last season, he was able to do more than Murray with less carries. In 176 attempts, he managed 744 yards and five touchdowns. He proved himself to be a reliable pass-catcher out of the backfield, as well, securing 11-of-17 targets for another 136 yards and a score.
Coming out of Alabama, Henry was seen as a ‘bruiser’ back, but Tide fans knew him to be much more of a physical specimen. When he showed up to the NFL Combine that year, he opened the football worlds’ eyes with absolutely ridiculous numbers. Despite measuring in at 6’3″ and 247 pounds, he was able to out-jump nearly all of the competition with a measured 37.0″ vertical. The rest of his numbers fell in line with these, and were enough to warrant him a second round pick.
Right around the time of his being drafted, the Titans elected to sign free agent star, DeMarco Murray, to shore up their roster. Meaning, Derrick Henry would have to go from 30-40 carries a game to about 10. While this was certainly not ideal for his style of play, any concerns about his over-usage at Alabama are sure to be mum now.
For the first time, he heads into this offseason as the clear starter. After playing a pivotal role in the Titans’ come-from-behind playoff victory with his 156 yard performance, the hype for the young star to play beside Marcus Mariota is at an all-time high.
New head coach, Mike Vrabel, will certainly garner a lot of high expectations. Besides Mariota, the offense has been fairly lacking on the perimeter. What Henry brings to the table in a starting role a whole lot of strength, but also a completely shocking burst around the outside. Teams will certainly underestimate his speed, as many have before, and before they know it will be left in the dust.