Chris Varughese

The Bears Brawl Writer, Jr. Editor and Draft Expert

It is well known that Chicago Bears’ head coach Matt Nagy loves speed. He loves weapons to his offensive arsenal to try and score on every play. In the 2019 NFL Draft class there may be no bigger home threat on any given play than Darrell Henderson. And in a draft that is absolutely studded with offensive stars, that is truly saying something. Henderson averaged 8.9 yards per carry for nearly 2,000 yards to go along with 22 touchdowns. In the combine they timed him in at 4.48 seconds but when watching him play he seems even faster. However this play style has its own limitations.

Source: Rob Carr/Getty Images North America

Positives:

Henderson’s big play ability and speed were already previously emphasized, so let’s analyze his running style on a smaller level. In 3 years at Memphis he has never fumbled, and that his mostly due to his running style. First thing that pops out about Henderson is that he keeps the ball very high and very tight. He is the poster child for the phrase, “high and tight.” Normally athletes find it harder to run fast with that kind of running style as it inhibits them from running as fast as they can, but Henderson has so much twitch in his legs that he can compensate for it. Henderson’s also only 5’8, which gives him a low center of gravity even with his upright running style. That low center of gravity coupled with his thick lower body allows him to slip tackles without trying. This compliments Henderson’s north to south running style very well. He is also very physical, using stiff arms and lowering his shoulder to avoid tackles. He always fights for extra yardage and his running style almost always gains yardage instead of losing any. His total receiving yards in 2019 was 295, which isn’t mind-blowing, but what’s interesting to look at is that he averaged 15.5 yards per reception for 3 touchdowns. He adds a dynamic receiving ability to go along with a productive running style.

Source: Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images North America

Negatives:

Darrell Henderson is one fast dude. No question about that. However, that kind of running style takes away different parts of his game that could make him a complete back. Henderson is always focused on going north to south on every play, but this causes him to lack vision. His offensive line at Memphis did a good job of creating holes for him, but when the hole collapsed Henderson was already smashing his way through because he is already going full speed at that point. In the second level he can’t get past a defender unless there is a substantial amount of turf between him and the defender. In that case he can beat him with speed, but in tight spaces it is very hard for Henderson to create. When watching him run, he is often seen running into his blockers and then trying to bounce off which can stop the play right there. Henderson lacks patience which can cause plays to become dead sooner than they should.

Source: Cooper Neill/Getty Images North America

Summary:

Henderson’s speed comes with a curse in the form of lack of vision. There is not too much that can be changed about his game without changing what makes him so special in the first place. His north to south speed and explosiveness are what teams are looking for when they draft him. Teams need to understand that this means his lateral game is not the strongest. So if teams draft Henderson expecting a patient, elusive back like Miles Sanders or Devin Singletary they will be disappointed. He is in a rare situation in that he is very talented in his running style but lacks the elusive part to his running game. He can try to add it in later, but needs to make sure he doesn’t sacrifice his speed. One thing that he can start with is tweaking his upright running style. If he can lower himself, he can make lateral cuts faster and more efficiently. However, lowering himself too much will take away his speed. In conclusion, Henderson needs to find the balance that where he can be the dynamic speed back that he is while adding in some vision and elusiveness. His athleticism and rare ability to accelerate could make a very strong case for the Bears to pick him in the third round if he’s even there.

 

Here are some videos of Darrell Henderson versus Houston and UCF:

Houston:


UCF: