Jordan Howard has now completed three seasons with the Chicago Bears after being drafted in the 5th round out of Indiana.
He was spectacular his first two seasons under a run-first head coach like John Fox, totaling 2,435 rushing yards on 528 carries and 16 total touchdowns.
However, with Matt Nagy coming into town this past season with a completely different scheme, Howard’s production dropped drastically.
He saw 250 carries for 935 yards, which was good enough for a 3.3 YPC, and 9 total touchdowns. Overall, Howard is just not a fit schematically for what Nagy wants to do.
This is leading to speculation that Howard may be traded to a team that will utilize him as a downhill runner and give him consistent carries. If that is the case, the Bears will need to find a replacement for him as Tarik Cohen does not have the size to carry the ball 250+ times.
With the Bears tight on cap space, and still needing to lock a few pending free agents up, free agency is unlikely to yield a long-term solution at the position.
However, Howard’s replacement can be found in a familiar place to Ryan Pace.
Darrell Henderson Is A Name Bears Fans Need To Remember
Darrell Henderson just declared for the NFL Draft out of the University of Memphis. For those who may recall, the Bears just used a 2nd round selection last year on a player from Memphis named Anthony Miller.
Henderson is electric. His speed kills defenses and he has the size running backs need to succeed in the NFL.
Darrell Henderson is giving out PIGGYBACK RIDES. pic.twitter.com/IlstJdTXDj
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) October 7, 2018
Sports-Reference.com has him listed as 5’9″ and 200lbs. If that is his exact size and weight measurements, he will be 2 inches shorter than Kareem Hunt and the exact same weight.
And we’ve seen Hunt dominate at that weight in the NFL with a NFL Rushing Title to his name in 2017…
Henderson is the perfect combination of speed and power. He can run between the tackles, lower his shoulder, bounce off a player and keep his legs churning.
A lot of people are talking about Darrell Henderson (@DarrellH8 ) and his speed. While that's impressive, it's the balance of speed and power that makes him an intriguing #NFLDraft prospect. pic.twitter.com/3fSHtR98sD
— Kyle Yates (@KyleYNFL) January 22, 2019
While he isn’t exactly going up against NFL linebackers in the Houston game, the tape demonstrates that he has the ability and willingness to lower the shoulder and engage.
Henderson’s Stats Are Jaw Dropping
NFL Scouts want to see players that played at small schools dominate their competition. If you can’t put up numbers against teams like Georgia State, you’re most likely not going to be able to be productive in the NFL against top competition.
Henderson fits the criteria for dominating their competition at a small school…in fact, he destroyed the criteria.
Darrell Henderson averaged 8.9 yards per carry in each of his past two seasons at Memphis, while running for 3,063 yards and 31 rushing touchdowns over that span. He’s emerging as a legitimate candidate to be the RB1 in the 2019 rookie class.
— Cory Evans (@CoryEvansNFL) January 17, 2019
This season alone, Henderson carried the ball 214 times for 1909 yards and 22 touchdowns on the ground. Also, Henderson was essentially the entire Memphis offense…opposing defenses knew the ball was coming his way and they still couldn’t stop him.
Bears Involvement Comes Down To Draft Stock
The only thing standing in the way of Henderson being a Chicago Bear next season is if he’s available when they are on the clock.
Because of the aforementioned Anthony Miller selection, the Bears are without a 2nd round pick this season. They’re also without a 1st rounder due to the Khalil Mack trade…so if Henderson were to join the Bears, he would need to be available in the 3rd round.
There’s a strong possibility that we see Henderson available near the end of the 3rd round. Some teams will be nervous of his size (being only 5’9″), some teams will be concerned about his level of competition and the demand for running backs isn’t as high in years past.
If Kareem Hunt can fall to the 86th pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, it’s likely Henderson can as well. Plus, if the Bears do end up trading Howard, they could use that pick as part of a package to move up and select Henderson if they believe someone else is ready to take him earlier.
It’s not a question about talent for Henderson. It’s a question of whether that talent translates to top-level competition. But we’ve seen players like Hunt shatter that narrative on the field in recent years and Ryan Pace has shown no aversion to taking players out of these types of schools.
Henderson is likely to see a pre-draft rise…will he be there on the clock for the Bears in Round 3?