Todd Gurley spent the last five years with the Rams, playing in both St. Louis and Los Angeles. On Thursday, he was cut by the team who drafted him 10th overall in 2015, ending his tenure with the Rams. On the surface, it seemed like a shock to many that such a high profile player was cut after racking up over 5,000 yards and 58 touchdowns. If you look closer, had the Rams not traded or cut Gurley, they would have owed him a $5.5 million base for 2020 and a $5 million bonus for 2021. The situation is ripe for someone in Los Angeles to rise to the occasion and that player is Darrell Henderson.
Highly touted as a rookie draft darling in 2019, Henderson was believed to be the insurance policy and heir apparent to Todd Gurley. The Rams traded two 3rd round draft picks to select Henderson at 70th overall. A standout at Memphis, many owners forget he was the most efficient college running back of all time, with 6.11 yards created per carry and an average of 8.9. In a two year span, he amassed 3,584 yards from scrimmage and 36 touchdowns! It’s his athletic profile mixed with impressive homerun skills that make him the back to own now that Gurley has been cut and signed with Atlanta. Henderson has the ability to get to the next level like very few backs before him with elite level acceleration through gaps. At 5’8” and 208 lbs. he ran a 4.49 40-yard dash, had an explosive 121” broad jump, and completed an impressive 22 reps on the bench press. All of his intangibles, draft capital, and former production had owners excited to take him in the late first round of rookie drafts last year.
His rookie year was confusing to many because of his complete lack of usage with only 39 carries for 147 yards and only 4 receptions. Sean McVay sidestepped questions last year of why they took Henderson but always had positive things to say. Henderson averaged over 5.0 yards per carry in every game he received more than five carries and a 3.8 yards per carry on the season. For running backs who had over 20 carries, Henderson led all back with a broken tackle for every 5.6 rushing attempts. Watching tape on Henderson, he showed glimpses of elite playmaking ability.
The Rams had one of the worst offensive lines in football last season with several key players missing time but now boast 12 offensive lineman that are familiar with the team. Many of those were thrust into a starting role and now are primed to improve through their experience in 2019. An improved line, a new offensive coordinator who is looking to use his creativity to get their running backs into open space, mixed with a young explosive running back could be an equation for great success in 2020. Henderson is just 22 years old and with a year under his belt in the system, he is primed to showcase his explosive skill set in 2020, making him one of my top offseason buys. He has the look and feel of a running back who is destined for stardom if given the full workload. Henderson amassed 63 receptions over three years at Memphis with 758 yards and 8 touchdowns. He was one of the best pass-catching backs to come out in his draft class, a trait that Sean McVay will look to utilize this season. Henderson can be purchased in dynasty to be your RB3 who will produce and could become a star as early as 2020.