Alabama in the Pros

Derrick Henry named NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year; two former Tide stars named to All-Rookie Team

Derrick Henry past a Texans defender
Troy Taormina - USA TODAY Sports

The AFC and NFC Championship matchups are this weekend in the National Football League.

Despite the Tennessee Titans, Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins (did not make playoffs) all at home now, all three teams produced at least one player on Pro Football Writers Association’s (PFWA) list of honors. When it comes to the University of Alabama, the honorees all hail from the Crimson Tide as alums. The trio of Derrick Henry (Titans), Jedrick Wills (Browns) and Raekwon Davis (Dolphins) were named for PFWA honors.

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Henry was selected as the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year via the outlet.

In his fifth season with the Titans, the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner won his second league rushing title. He posted a 1,000-yard campaign for a third straight year, while becoming the eighth running back in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season.

Henry collected ten 100-yard performances, including three 200-yard games. The 6-foot-3, 247-pounder embarrassed the Houston Texans, as two of his three 200-yard outings came versus J.J. Watt and company. He led all backs for carries (378), rushing yards (2,027) and touchdowns (17). Henry guided the Titans to an 11-5 record and its first AFC South Division title since 2008. Despite being held to just 40 yards in the AFC Wild Card Round against the Baltimore Ravens, he still had a strong year.

Henry is the first Tide alum to win Offensive Player of the Year since Shaun Alexander in 2005.

Both Wills and Davis were chosen for the All-Rookie Team.

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Wills was picked by the Browns at No. 10 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. As a first-year offensive tackle, he protected Baker Mayfield to 3,563 passing yards. The third-year veteran at quarterback posted a touchdown/interception ratio of 26-8.

Along with assisting Mayfield, Wills also cleared the way for Nick Chubb to rush for 1,067 yards and 12 scores. He set the edge for Kareem Hunt to total 841 yards and six touchdowns — en route to the Browns clinching its first playoff berth since 2002.

Davis was taken in the second round of the 2020 draft by the Dolphins.

Even though it missed the playoffs at 10-6, Davis tallied 40 tackles as a rookie. A two-time SEC Champion and former first-team All-SEC selection at Alabama, the native Mississippian is poised to do even more next season.

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith

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