The Rams moved on from Darrell Henderson last year when they waived him in time so he could go and catch on with a team and add to his free agency stock. However, it didn’t work out for the former Memphis running back. It didn’t work out at all.
Henderson was drafted by the Rams in the 2019 NFL Draft in the third round and was instantly considered an exciting change of pace weapon to Todd Gurley. Since then, Gurley has been cut and eventually retired and Henderson has started 28 games and has appeared in 50 all with the Rams.
He’s back now in Los Angeles and not to be just a depth piece. No, Sean McVay has had a lot of great things to say about Darrell Henderson. With the Rams suffering two huge losses in the running back in the shape of Kyren Williams and Ronnie Rivers who just went to injured reserve, this is a golden opportunity for frankly every running back that’s available.
Currently, the Rams have Henderson but also veteran Royce Freeman, rookie sixth-rounder Zach Evans and Myles Gaskin who they acquired off of the Vikings practice squad. All four will have a shot to at least carry the football for the Rams. However, only one of them have the long-term trust built with the head football coach and that is Henderson.
Henderson can work in the run game as a career 4.4 yards per carry guy, he can work in the passing game as he’s been targeted there 92 times and has run 396 routes on passing downs and he’s great in pass protection, he’s only allowed one sack and six pressures in 108 pass protection reps.
It sounds crazy to assume Henderson could have any sort of role after not playing football for almost a year. However, the Rams have done some wild things in the past like this including signing running back C.J. Anderson off of his couch and starting him almost instantly, or claiming Baker Mayfield and making him basically start a primetime game on a short week with only 48 hours of preparation. This seems rather tame considering the familiarity Henderson has with the team.
The key for the Rams will be for them to try and run the offense exactly how they planned to do it with Kyren Williams who is now out until at least week 12. In order to do that, you need a guy who can pass protect, catch and run with balance and vision. All of those boxes are checked when you talk about the 26-year-old Henderson.
Freeman can help you in the pass protection as he has a 94.2 efficiency rate and is surprisingly consistent with an 84.2 reception percentage in the receiving game but he only averages 3.8 yards per carry. Then you have Evans who struggles as a pass protector, had limited usage in the receiving game in college but offers potential home-run hitting speed that can break open a game. Last, but not least you have Gaskin who unlike the other three has zero experience with Sean McVay. Gaskin is very good in pass protection boasting a 95.1 efficiency rating, very good in the receiving game with a career 701 yards, six touchdowns on 101 receptions but he also averages 3.8 yards per carry.
All four backs will have a chance but it’s pretty obvious if Henderson remains healthy he should be considered the favorite to not only take over in the short-term as the starting running back but also work his way into making himself part of the Rams plans as the season goes on as part of a tandem with Kyren Williams. It seems unfair to call any injury a blessing in disguise but we saw what happened when Cooper Kupp went down with an injury and Puka Nacua emerged. Would he have done that if Kupp started the first four games on the field instead of the injured reserve list? Who knows?
However, we know for sure that if Kyren Williams did not get hurt we never would have seen a return of Henderson. This could end up having a similar reward to Nacua in that Henderson becomes a mainstay on the offense with Williams and it ultimately allows McVay to manage the run game better, keep both fresh and healthy while running the offense exactly how he wants to and not worrying about any drop off in pass protection, receiving ability or ball-carrying ability.
Could Darrell Henderson be here to stay? We’re about to find out this Sunday what the future holds for the Rams 2019 third-rounder.