Don't cast Derrick Henry for a bust in Canton just yet, though his performance in his first preseason game provided reason for optimism that he will have a solid NFL career.
While many self-proclaimed and anointed "experts" panned the Tennessee Titans for selecting Henry in the second round with evaluations that knocked every aspect of the pick and the reigning Heisman Trophy winners game, those too appear to have been inaccurate and in haste.
Make no mistake, Henry has things to learn and to improve in his game, and he admitted as much in his post game comments on Saturday night. Still that same performance was cause for optimism that Henry will have a solid NFL career.
Here are just a few of the "expert" evaluations on Henry from multiple media outlets.
>Henry needs some space to get moving. He's not nearly as powerful running east to west. Further, he doesn't possess ideal balance for the position, sporting a top-heavy frame and long legs which make it easier for defenders to tackle him low. This forces Henry to lunge, on occasion, rather than drive forward – NFLDRAFTSCOUT.COM
>Like a lot of big backs, Derrick Henry isn't nearly as effective running east to west. Negates his power. - Rob Rang, CBSSPORTS
>Henry hasn't proven the reliable receiver scouts would prefer in today's increasingly pass-happy NFL. - CBSSPORTS
>Henry is great at falling forward on downhill runs, but he’s chopped down easily in space and isn’t a natural receiver out of the backfield. Drafting a backup running back in the second round with a roster full of needs is not something we can get on board with. - Pro Football Focus, which ranked the Titans'' selection of Henry as the 8th worst in the 2016 NFL Draft. ”
>Despite Henry’s talent, for a team to get the most out of him, I believe Henry will need to enter an offense that already has a lot of talent. - Ryan Ratty, InsideTheStar
>Henry isn’t a burner to the outside, and may find himself with issues getting past the NFL’s more varied fronts when he hits the edge. Needs to work on his balance when trying to shift and cut horizontally—he’s more a forward than sideways player. Opponents have learned that tripping him up and chopping are effective methods for stopping him behind the line of scrimmage; he could stand to pump his legs more to counter that. – Sports Illustrated
It's correct that Henry isn't as powerful running east to west, but then again, what back is as powerful there? However, many backs don't possess the shear strength of Henry and a devastating stiff arm that the rookie has (see the video of Henry stiff arming Michigan State's Shaq Calhoun in the national semifinal game) in his arsenal. As for the issue of balance, Henry showed us a spin move on Saturday night that I had not seen in all the Alabama games I watched last season.
It's also true that he is tall and his upright style does make it easier for defenders to get to his legs, but his powerful leg drive ( he squats 600 pounds folks) make his legs painful to defenders to hit him low.
As for the pass catching aspect, well Henry showed when asked to do so at Alabama, he was more than capable of being an effective target. He simply wasn't asked to do that by Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin. He has shown since arriving in Nashville that he can catch the football and in fact, he's pretty good at it.
I guess the experts missed that when sitting behind their computers evaluating film of games where he was not asked to be a receiver.
There's more that could be said about this evaluations, but why bother with wasting time and words on media pundits who don't know as much as the scouts who actually worked out and watched Henry thoroughly and are paid by NFL teams to do such.
Please don't think that I am writing the acceptance speech for Henry's induction into the Hall of Fame. That's more than a bit premature, but then so were those evaluations that knocked this young man and labeled him a bust before he was even selected into the NFL.
Henry has been doubted at every level. He was too big to be a running back in high school so he went out and became the all-time rushing yards leader in the history of high school football in this county.
College recruiters wanted to move him to linebacker because he was too big and he could never be a college back or make the NFL at his size. So all he did was put up a season for the ages while winning the Heisman and every other major award for college football last season.
Only time will tell if Henry has a successful NFL career or not, but after one preseason game he showed he's not the inevitable bust most media members wanted to label him before he ever stepped on the field.
The moral of the story is don't count Derrick Henry out too soon, he has a way of proving people wrong, and he's taking dead aim at those who doubt him now.
I'm not betting on him, but I'm certainly not betting against him either.