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Ravens Eye View: What Derrick Henry Will Bring to Baltimore

RB Derrick Henry
RB Derrick Henry

The Ravens signed a "unicorn" this week in Derrick Henry.

That's how General Manager Eric DeCosta described Baltimore's newest running back.

The Ravens are betting on the 30-year-old Henry, the league's leading rusher since he entered the NFL eight years ago, to still have a lot more good football left in him.

The tape shows Baltimore's bet is likely a good one. Below are all clips from Henry's 2023 season with the Tennessee Titans, so it's the most recent tape available.

Here's what Henry is bringing to the Ravens:

Physicality, and that wicked stiff-arm

Some of Henry's most viral moments, from tossing Josh Norman, to his 99-yard touchdown run, to turning former Ravens safety Earl Thomas into his lead blocker, featured a nasty stiff-arm.

There's no question that the 6-foot-2, 247-pound back still has plenty of power.

Henry posted the second-most yards after contact in the league last year, only trailing San Francisco's Christian McCaffrey. He averaged 3.32 yards per carry after contact.

Over the past three years, Henry has run into by far the most eight-man boxes in the league. He ran into them the second-most in the NFL last season. Even with a lot of bodies around, Henry keeps breaking tackles.

Asked Thursday about why he joined the Ravens, Henry said, "I love the style, the physicality that they play with on all three phases. I feel like it fits my style of play as well."

Top-notch speed, and big plays through any gap

One of the biggest questions for 30-year-old running backs is whether their speed will diminish.

Henry hit a top speed of 21.68 mph on a 69-yard run – in Week 18 – last season. It was the second-fastest top speed he's posted over the past five years.

Henry's second-fastest top speed was 20.99 mph on a 63-yard run against the Ravens. That's as fast as Keaton Mitchell's top speed from last season on his 40-yard run versus the Seahawks.

Looking at the film, it's easy to see defenders still taking bad angles on Henry and him beating them to the edge with regularity. He can also hit the jets through any gap.

"The great thing about Derrick Henry is it doesn't end in the A gap. It's in the B-gap, the C-gap, the D-gap, the edge and all the way out to the sideline," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.

"We saw that in London this past year on that fake reverse that [the Titans] hit on us. This is a back that can do everything, and he can change the game for you."

Trick play potential with direct snaps

Ravens Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken loves to think outside the box, and Henry will give him some new wrinkles to work into the Ravens offense.

Ravens fans may shudder thinking back to the leaping touchdown pass he threw against Baltimore in the 2019 divisional playoff game, and the Titans continued to utilize that skill. Henry also threw a jump pass touchdown last year.

In all, Henry took 11 direct snaps last season. It's great for short-yardage situations because it allows for an additional interior blocker as the quarterback lines up out wide. But the Titans also hit some big plays with it, including the aforementioned 63-yard run against the Ravens.

The Titans also built some additional trick plays off it. It worked against the Ravens in part because of a fake reverse element. Henry also handed the ball off to fellow running back Tajae Sharpe once on a read-option. Then there was this wild 43-yard touchdown.

Monken will have fun sketching some possibilities …

Goal-line muscle

Gus Edwards was tied for the fifth-most rushing touchdowns in the league last season (13), one ahead of Henry.

Edwards' power around the goal line was a huge asset and reason why the Ravens were highly efficient in the red zone over the second half of the season.

But nobody has more rushing touchdowns since Henry entered the league in 2016, and it's not even close. Henry has 90. Ezekiel Elliott posted 71.

Henry's gargantuan size is obviously one reason, as his ability to leap over the top, power through tacklers, or get to the edge. Put it all together and Henry is tough to stop around the goal line.

Sneaky receiving abilities

Henry has never been a high-output receiver, but he's somebody opponents still have to account for in the passing game or he'll gash them.

When Henry is left wide open on simple flair outs, he can get a full head of steam. And whenever Henry does that, watch out.

Henry was also sometimes used in the running back screen game, which is an area where Baltimore has struggled over the years. Could Henry help get it going?

Monken is always looking to get the ball to players in space. Henry doesn't find much of it as a runner considering all the crowded boxes he's seen (and will likely continue to see), but he can do damage on occasion if he gets it in the passing game.

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