Despite seeing more usage than most running backs in the NFL, Derrick Henry is showing no signs of slowing down. Running backs have had a much shorter shelf life in the league over recent years but Henry is just a different beast. He rushed for over 2,000 yards last year and is on pace to do it again this season. The Las Vegas Raiders are one of the lucky teams that won’t have to face him this season but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have their full respect.
Madden ratings have been a major talking point for players. It gives players a numerical value to gauge how others think of them. However, they usually become the subject of controversy. Henry was recently upgraded to a 98 overall ranking, which puts him in rare company. That still wasn’t good enough for Raiders defensive back Johnathan Abram, who ripped Madden and their rating system.
Henry appears to do everything well. If any player is deserving of a 99 rating, it’s likely him. He’s the best running back in the NFL and one of the most unstoppable forces playing football right now.
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Former Raiders Coach Pushed Team to Draft Henry
It’s almost impossible to imagine in hindsight but Henry was not a first-round pick despite being the most dominant running back in college football in 2015 and a Heisman Trophy winner. He fell to the Titans in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft and the rest is history. However, things could’ve gone very differently.
Heading into the 2016 NFL Draft, the Raiders had a decent running back in Latavius Murray but he wasn’t anything special. According to The Atheltic’s Vic Tafur, Raiders offensive coordinator at the time Bill Musgrave was “screaming” for the team to draft Henry.
Instead of listening to Musgrave, the team drafted defensive lineman Jihad Ward with the 44th pick. Henry was selected with the next pick by the Titans. Ward lasted just two seasons with the Raiders before getting traded. Had they drafted Henry, the franchise could look very different right now.
Raiders Rolling With 2 Other Former Alabama RBs
Had the Raiders’ current brass been calling the shots in 2016, the team almost certainly would’ve drafted Henry. General manager Mike Mayock’s second-ever draft pick was selecting former Alabama running back Josh Jacobs. The Raiders love them some Alabama alumni, which likely played a role in why they signed Kenyan Drake in the offseason.
The Raiders now have two former Alabama running backs in the backfield. Neither player is at the level of Henry but are making plays for the silver and black. Jacobs has back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons to start his career while Drake just enjoyed his breakout game against the Denver Broncos where he scored two touchdowns. For whatever reason, Alabama breeds good running backs. If only the Raiders caught onto that back in 2016. The team went 12-4 that season but fell off the following year. Having a playmaker like Henry could’ve saved the team and former head coach Jack Del Rio’s job.