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NFL Media’s Gil Brandt predicts Los Angeles Rams RB Darrell Henderson to be top 5 rookie running back

Could Hendo be in for a huge 2019?

Los Angeles Rams RB Darrell Henderson at minicamp, Jun. 11, 2019.
Los Angeles Rams RB Darrell Henderson at minicamp, Jun. 11, 2019.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley dealing with a “small” knee issue, the Rams used the 70th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft to select RB Darrell Henderson.

While we won’t get a sense of how Head Coach Sean McVay and the rest of his staff will balance the workload between Gurley, Henderson and backup RB Malcolm Brown, it’s expected that Henderson will be involved frequently this season. Much of that involvement will fluctuate week-to-week based on gameplan, form and health, of course.

But as NFL Media’s Gil Brandt has picked his top five rookie running backs for 2019 and laid out statistical projections for each, his inclusion of Henderson at #4 suggests the Rams’ rookie could be in for a significant impact in year one:

4) Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams

Projected stats: 95 carries, 475 rushing yards, 3 rush TDs, 42 catches.

Drafted: No. 70, Round 3.

With knee issues dogging Todd Gurley at the end of last season, the Rams could choose to limit his snaps in 2019 to ensure his effectiveness at crucial junctures later on in the year. This creates a potential opportunity for Henderson, a matchup nightmare. At Memphis, Henderson showed he has the quickness to hit the hole, the toughness to run through tacklers and the speed to reach the edge. He doesn’t need much room to run and tends to finish forward. He was able to split out wide at times at Memphis, and he showed the ability to make adjustments catching passes out of the backfield. He also owns the second-most rushing yards (3,545) and yards from scrimmage (4,303) in Memphis history. His height (5-foot-8) is a source of concern, and he’ll have to show he’s a better option than current Gurley backup Malcolm Brown, who was not allowed by the Rams to walk as a restricted free agent this offseason.

Nearing 100 carries would be a major shift in the way the Rams have used their running backs in years past. Brown’s career high for carries in a season was the 63 rushes he had in 2017. So for Henderson to blow past that in just his first NFL season would be a pretty remarkable shift especially if Brown continues to pick up a few carries per game.