The Tennessee Titans selected Alabama running back Derrick Henry with the No. 45 overall pick in Friday’s second round of the NFL Draft. Henry’s selection equals the second time in as many seasons that the Titans have drafted the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.
Henry was widely considered the top running back prospect available in this draft after his record-breaking campaign for the Crimson Tide last season. The 6-foot-3 shattered both Alabama and SEC records last season, rushing for 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns on 395 touches. Aside from Heisman honors, he was also awarded the Doak Walker and Maxwell and Walter Camp Player of the Year Awards.
In high school, Henry was a five-star athlete, ranked the No. 4 football player in the state of Florida upon entering college, and the No. 12 overall prospect in the 2013 recruiting cycle, according to 247Sports.
While the yards Henry racked up in college were supremely impressive, when combined with the yards he rushed for in his high school career — 12,124 in four years at Yulee High School — many have questioned how many miles the 21-year-old has remaining in the tank. So far, he has been able to do a superb job of protecting himself from injury, which could change in the NFL if he continues battling for extra yards, as has been his reputation his entire career.
His biggest challenge will be proving his collegiate success wasn’t primarily a bi-product of the offensive line in front of him — previously, Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy and Mark Ingram all arrived in the NFL with their fair share of hype, only to quickly fizzle out.
As mentioned previously, Henry joins as the second Heisman Trophy-winner on the roster in as many years, alongside quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Though the record spoke to the contrary, Mariota posted a respectable rookie campaign. He set rookie records for most touchdowns (19), completions (230), passing yards (2,818) and passing attempts (370) in his first NFL season in 2015. However, he was also sacked 38 times and suffered two separate knee injuries, which ultimately required surgery and ended his season early.
David Barclay is an NFL Insider for byteclay.com. He is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Email, email@example.com, Twitter, @DJamesIII