The Chargers took Hunter Henry, the former Arkansas Razorback, with the fourth pick in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft. They chose the 6’5″, 250lbs. tight end for a multitude of good reasons. First, the Chargers current star TE, Antonio Gates, is well into the twilight of his career. Second, the organization recently let backup TE, Ladarius Green, walk in free agency (Pittsburgh Steelers). Third, Henry was a star in college, garnering a consensus first team All-America nod and won the John Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end after his Junior year. Finally, Henry is the most complete tight end in this year’s draft, possessing a quality skill set in all areas of his position.
Despite playing in a run-heavy offense at Arkansas, Henry’s abilities have been highlighted plenty in the passing game. In addition, Henry’s head coach at Arkansas, Brett Bielema, said Hunter has “Ball skills off the charts” and considers the young tight end to be one of the best NFL prospects in the country.
As a receiver, Henry has above average athletic skills, he can work all three levels of a defense, is quick off the line of scrimmage, has shown good leaping ability, and is a polished route runner. The young TE also has excellent hands, as evidenced by his zero drops in his final season at Arkansas, exhibits a high football IQ, and knows how to find the soft spots in zone coverage.
As a run blocker, Henry has the size to hold his own in the trenches, displays a solid mix of strength and technique, maintains fundamental hand placement, and attacks opponents with a wide base and strong stance.
Henry is considered more quick than fast, and his 4.66 second 40-yard dash isn’t the type of top end speed that will challenge a secondary deep downfield. Occasionally, Henry tends to get grabby, while pass blocking, which can lead to penalties. Finally, Henry hasn’t proven himself as a red zone threat, scoring only nine total touchdowns over three seasons in college.
Currently, Henry doesn’t possess the superstar measurables, you see out of guys like Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski, but he’s very well-rounded and can do everything the Chargers will ask of him. Therefore, with some grooming from Antonio Gates, and working in a scheme that loves to throw the ball to the tight end, Henry has plenty of upside to be an every-week fantasy football starter for years to come. He may not put up TE1 stats right away, but don’t be surprised if Henry produces Jason Witten like numbers once Gates finishes his career. As for dynasty rookie drafts, expect Henry to be selected in the early to mid-second round in most standard and PPR formats.