Rookie Scouting Report: Running Back Darrell Henderson
Darrell Henderson, Memphis
Weight: 208 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.49 seconds
Vertical Jump: 33.5 inches
Broad Jump: 121 inches
3-Cone Drill: N/A
There are some doubters who say Henderson ran through massive holes while at Memphis, and then there are others who say he isn’t big enough to handle a big workload. After measuring in at just 5-foot-8 at the NFL Combine, those whispers haven’t gone away, but the fact that he weighed in at 208 pounds and still ran a 4.49-second 40-yard dash is a good sign.
You can’t deny his production in 2018, as he tallied 1,909 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns in 13 games, averaging 8.9 yards per carry for the second straight season. Not just that, but he was also able to tally 758 yards and eight touchdowns through the air during his three years at Memphis. After scoring 36 total touchdowns over his last 25 college games, there’s no question he made the most out of his situation, but will the next level of competition be too much?
Vision/Awareness: 3.0 out of 5 stars
Did his speed allow his vision to seem better than it was? He bounced runs outside quite a bit, something we don’t see work very often in the NFL, especially when the running back isn’t super-elusive. His balance almost limits his vision, as he’s not a hard-cut runner who can change direction on a dime. He does understand how to get skinny through a hole, even if he does remain upright too often. He might actually play too fast at times, not allowing plays to develop in front of him, but to his credit, he does keep his feet moving. He also has to get points for his ability to wear down a defense somewhere in this profile, so we have to put it under his awareness, as he seemingly understands how to conserve enough energy to attack the defense late in games.
Elusiveness (twitch, juke, tackle-breaking): 3.0 out of 5 stars
I don’t know if he’s going to break many tackles at the next level, which might come as a surprise to those who watched him break quite a few tackles at Memphis, but a lot of them can be contributed to poor tackling. He doesn’t give a big tackling surface though, so it’s possible that defenders roll off him a bit easier than other (bigger) backs. He’s not a high-twitch running back who’ll juke a defender out of his shoes, so he’d need to break some tackles in order to find that space to ramp-up his speed. I’d feel confident saying he’s not going to be tackled by his shoelaces, though. In the end, you won’t watch him and come away thinking he’s a super-elusive running back.
Speed: 4.5 out of 5 stars
His speed is what he relies on quite a bit, maybe more than he should, but he’s got plenty of it. He will beat a lot of defenders in a foot race, so if the defense doesn’t seal the edge, he’s going to create problems. Once in the open-field, it’s very unlikely you’re going to catch him, as he has very good long speed. His top-end speed isn’t all he has, either, as he has on-demand speed, though his rounded cuts will not make it as effective. When you have a fast back like him, you hope that he can plant that foot in the ground and get upfield in a hurry. You won’t be left wanting more speed, that’s for sure.
Pass-catching/Pass Protection: 3.0 out of 5 stars
He was used in a variety of different ways, including lining him out wide to get him the ball on a screen. He wasn’t a featured part of the passing-game, but he’s not someone who’ll limit what an offense can do. He has very capable hands and can be used in a many different ways. I believe he was underused in the passing-game. He’s moveable in pass-protection, as I saw him walked back on multiple occasions, though he is a willing blocker.
Balance: 2.5 out of 5 stars
His balance isn’t as good as you’d expect for a running back who’s just 5-foot-8 and 208 pounds, as he naturally has a low center of gravity. Despite that, he rounds out his cuts more than other running backs who come in closer to six-feet tall. He’s a bit up-and-down when hitting the hole and relies more on making defenders miss than anything. While watching him tight-rope his way through defenders, I found myself almost waiting for a defender to come in and hammer him up top, though the competition was weaker than most, so it didn’t happen all that much.
Potential Landing Spots
I’d love to see Henderson wind up with the Chiefs, who just signed Carlos Hyde to a one-year deal, while having Damien Williams for another two years. Hyde is aging, while Williams hasn’t ever played a full season with a big role in an offense. Even if he doesn’t start right away, they can have him waiting in the wings to take over in this quick-moving offense. The Eagles make sense, too, as he’d be able to fill a few roles in their current three-headed timeshare while not using too much draft equity to acquire him, as he’s expected to last into at least the third-round.
It’s hard to find a comparison to Henderson because most running backs with his size and playstyle offer extremely hard cuts in their run-style. He’s faster than Duke Johnson, but that’s likely the best comparison I can come up with. He’s someone who I believe can handle more than the Browns have given him, though he’s not someone who you likely want to handle a workhorse role. They can both break tackles, but they’re not going to be confused with Chris Carson or Marshawn Lynch any time soon. This may seem like a low-end comparison, but it comes back to me believing that Johnson can offer more than we’ve seen. Let’s hope Henderson gets more than 8.3 touches per game that Johnson has received in his NFL career because his best work comes late in games.
More to come in the following weeks…