Heisman Trophy winning tailback Derrick Henry did not participate in all of Wednesday’s work after an excellent showing at the combine, but one area in which he did work in front of the scouts from 32 NFL teams was a bit of a surprise.
While Derrick Henry had no reason to go through most work at Alabama’s Pro Day Wednesday, when duty called to help a teammate, Henry responded. The 6-3, 242-pound tailback volunteered to catch passes for quarterback Jacob Coker. There was a shortage of healthy receivers to help Coker in his exhibition.
“I tried to do what I could,” Henry said following Alabama’s Pro Day. While he was doing it primarily to help Coker, Henry said he thought it was important to show his pass catching skills. And, he said, “I felt pretty good, so I think I did good. I think it went well. Anything to make myself more versatile, more useful, I'm all for it.”
And Henry had a question for reporters: “Did I look bad?”
No sportswriter had criticism of Henry the receiver.
Henry said, "I just wanted to catch the ball. In running back drills, we do it all the time and did it at the combine. So I just wanted to catch the ball and show that I could catch. I've been doing it since I've been training, so it's nothing new."
Following the workout Coker had high praise for Henry as a receiver. And Henry returned the compliment. “(Coker) looked good, man,” Henry said. “His release is a lot quicker; he did a great job. He's Jake. He did all good."
Henry said he hasn’t gotten specific feedback from pro scouts who have been watching him. "I haven't really asked them anything,” Henry said. “They just told me to keep working, do what I'm doing. I had good combine, and they just said to build off of that. Hopefully I did good today."
His pre-draft routine, he said, "Just trying to get better and better every day, working on things I need to get better at. Just asking people what I need to get better at, and come out here and working hard. Just working. It's the same thing every day."
He has spoken with representatives from the New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, and Cleveland Browns. His said his future schedule includes being in Atlantic City, N.J., Thursday for a Maxwell Award event.
Alabama Coach Nick Saban said, “I think when you look at Derrick Henry you have to get past the style points and style issue. He’s a unique guy with a unique style. He’s got great length, he’s got a great stiff arm, he’s really hard to tackle, and he’s really, really fast. He can catch the ball. He’s a really good receiver. And he can block. So if you don’t have this sort of pigeon hole perception of what a running back needs to be, and you can get past all that and just look at the production, you’ll be wise in terms of how you look at Derrick Henry and what his performance will be for you down the road.”
Neither Henry nor Saban is buying into the notion that Henry will have to have a specific blocking scheme in order to be an effective NFL runner.
“All I need is a line and I’m good,” Henry said.
Saban said, “I think he has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt playing against some great competition that he’s a very productive, effective player in a lot of ways.
Saban added, “I don’t think he can improve his draft status by coming back to college, so I think he is doing the right thing in what he is doing. And I also believe he is going to be a very, very good player.”