Derrick Henry told the guys at NFL Network that he’s set to meet with the Seattle Seahawks. Is their interest in him legitimate?
On it’s face, many fans may think the prospect of the Seahawks drafting Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry makes no sense. After all, the Hawks already have their in-house replacement for the retired Marshawn Lynch, don’t they?
Well, as impressive as undrafted rookie Thomas Rawls was before his injury last season, questions remain about his durability, and whether he can handle a full workload for 16 games. It’s also fair to question whether that’s even what the Seahawks want. Pete Carroll has a history of favoring a rotation of running backs and spreading out the touches, but adapted that philosophy to fit a once-a-generation workhouse like Lynch.
Look closer, and their interest in Henry makes quite a bit of sense. They have shown an inclination to favor uniquely talented backs in the past, and haven’t been afraid to use higher draft picks on them. They used their first pick of the 2013 draft (a 2nd rounder) on Christine Michael, and saw enough in Robert Turbin to take him in the 4th round the year before. Neither turned out to be the bell-cow successor to Lynch as they were hoping, but it’s hard to ignore the trend.
The Seahawks have always been intrigued by rare athletes at any position, and Henry certainly fits that category. At 6’3″ and 247 lbs he ran a 4.54 40 yard dash at the combine to go along with a 37 inch vertical leap. And as the featured back at Alabama, he showed he’s more than just a straight line runner. He has the savvy and lateral agility to make defenders miss when he doesn’t feel like running them over.
On set live at the NFL Network this morning, Henry mentioned the Cowboys, Panthers and Seahawks as three teams he’s set to visit and meet with. Could this be a smoke screen on the Hawks part as they size up their draft board? Maybe……maybe not. A number of former Seahawk draftees (Bobby Wagner and Michael to name two) came from the list of pre-draft VMAC visitors.
Would it make sense? It may. Henry could be the ideal partner for a healthy Rawls in Seattle’s backfield, giving defenses two very different looks, but maintaining the Hawks desire to establish a physical, dominant rushing attack. He could even give offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell some opportunities to play them together in some two back sets.
Where it begins to look less likely is when you size up where the Seahawks sit in the draft. At pick #26, and glaring needs remaining on the offensive line, taking Henry in the first round is sure to cause mass panic and derision from fans. It would be easy to justify using the 56th selection on him, but most projections have him long gone by then. So realistically, Henry is falling into that zone between Seattle’s two top picks.
But we all know GM John Schneider’s propensity for trading down in the first round, or even out of it as he’s done the last three drafts. If he were to do that again, landing the Hawks first turn somewhere in the top half of the second round while adding more picks, don’t be shocked if you see the Heisman Trophy winner in Seahawks blue in 2016.
And…….. it’s not like this is a new idea. I had Henry to the Hawks at pick #26 in my first 7-round mock draft a month ago.