Darrell Henderson
The 2019 NFL Draft is a weak running back class but Memphis back, Darrell Henderson has the best chance to become a star. Let me explain. (The Commercial Appeal/USA TODAY)

Every single year there is a running back that shocks us in the draft. It happens every year. Alvin Kamara went from third round pick to superstar. James Conner was picked in the third round and Pittsburgh really didn’t miss a whole lot. Last year Phillip Lindsey wasn’t even drafted and became a Pro Bowl back for the Broncos. The 2019 NFL Draft is a very weak running back group. Forget the first round, it’s the first year that I can remember that I don’t think one even belongs in the second round. It’s going to require some digging this year. Memphis running back Darrell Henderson just may be the diamond in the rough you were looking for.

Let’s start at the top. Josh Jacobs is listed as the consensus first running back off the board. Does he have potential? Sure, no doubt. Does he warrant a first round pick? Hell no. Ask yourself this question. Shouldn’t the first running back off the board start for his own college team? Damien Harris was the starter at Bama who is also in this draft. You tell me the difference between Jacobs and Harris because I really didn’t see one. What I do know is Nick Saban must have trusted Harris more because he got more touches so I think that means something? For whatever reason, Harris is an afterthought and Jacobs is head and shoulders better than everyone else. I don’t buy it for a single second. 640 rushing yards in 2018 shouldn’t scream superstar. C’mon NFL community. Be better.

After that, it’s a jumbled group. Throw a dart and pick one. Not much separation between Benny Snell, Mike Weber, Devin Singletary, Elijah Holyfield, etc. But what if that’s not true? Darrell Henderson has one thing going for him. Yards After Contact. Yards per carry averages can sometimes be misleading if a running back is plowing through a bad offensive line or defenses are stacking the box and creating zero running lanes. Bad quarterbacks don’t help either.

Henderson is the leader in the hen house with yards after contact. By the way, it’s not close. Henderson led college football with 6.2 yards after first contact. That means on average, Henderson picked up 6.2 yards after the first defender hit him. That’s an insane number. Only one other running back in the draft class was in the 5-yard range and that was Darwin Thompson of Utah State. Only 3 backs were in the 4 yards after contact range. Darrin Hall, Devine Ozigbo, and Holyfield.

While playing at Memphis didn’t provide the greatest competition in the world. They still played UCF twice and Houston during the year. Henderson’s overall college production is flat out lunacy. 22 rushing touchdowns, 1,909 yards, and 8.9 per attempt. I haven’t even mentioned the best part of Henderson. He’s the best home run hitter in the draft.

We’re all looking for upside in the the draft. We want superstars. Henderson has the best shot in this class and it’s because he can take runs to the house when others can’t. In 2018, Henderson had 43 carries over 15 yards. He also had 11 touchdown runs of at least 54 yards. That was just last year. He also averaged a similar 8.9 yards per attempt average in 2017.

Henderson has a lot going for him. He’s a smaller target than most. Just 5-foot-8. That’s a big reason why defenders miss so much because they tackle him high and Henderson has enough power and explosiveness to just bulldoze through. He keeps his feet moving constantly. We talk about athletes that hesitate and it’s just a mental hitch. Henderson doesn’t have that. It’s all chain movements and his feet move nonstop. He also had 4.49 speed and can hit the home run as you have seen in many examples above.

Looking for a running back in the 2019 NFL Draft? You better be careful before you pass on Memphis running back, Darrell Henderson. No back has more potential than Henderson does.