2016 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Arkansas TE Hunter Henry

As we delve into the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason, our attention has now shifted to the 2016 NFL Draft as it relates to the prospects. From now until the draft takes place, we hope to profile as many draft prospects as we possibly can for you. Most of these player profiles will be centered around prospects the Steelers are likely to have interest in.

Being as the Steelers might have an interest in drafting another tight end this year, we will kick this year’s draft profiles off with a look at Arkansas’s Hunter Henry.

#84 – Hunter Henry/TE Arkansas: 6’5 253

The Good:

– Has size and build of all-around tight end
– Adequate top-end speed and able to get free releases off of line
– Understands defenses and has ability to find soft areas of zones
– Used a lot as end-of-line blocker out of three-point stance
– Nice body control and can make combative catches
– Above average run blocker who understands angles
– Shows competency as a pass blocker
– Quick to the tuck as a receiver
– Did line up in the slot some
– Faced quality competition in SEC

The Bad:

– Doesn’t always pluck the ball out of air
– Has a tendency to slide off of blocks too easily
– Will lunge occasionally
– Needs to play to the whistle every down
– Could use more lower body strength

Other:

– Father played tackle for Arkansas from 1988-1991
– 2015 John Mackey Award winner
– Consensus first team All-American (AFCA, AP, TSN, WC)
– Reportedly no drops in 2015
– Turned 21 in December
– Declared for draft as an underclassmen
– Production increased every season

Tape Breakdown:

Over the course of the three games that I watched of Henry, he proved to be more than an adequate run blocker on the end of the line of scrimmage. Below on this trap play against Alabama, Henry fires off of the left end of the line in order to hit linebacker Reggie Ragland. Great block.

Generally, Henry is pretty solid in pass protection but as you can see in this clip below against Alabama, he allows linebacker Dillon Lee get his arms extended inside and is then pulled forward. this results in a quarterback hit.

While the quarterback never gets the ball out to Henry on this play, the tight end shows the presence of mind to break his out route up the field during a scramble. He was open had the quarterback seen him and gotten rid of the football.

From the right side of the line, Henry effectively down-blocks Alabama defensive lineman Jarran Reed and even pushes him back.

A good example here of Henry finding work at the second level after a combo block from the right side. he seals the linebacker off to the inside and running back has a nice lane for good yardage.

While this reception was wiped out by offsetting penalties, here’s a good shot of Henry getting loose off of the line on an underneath mesh concept. He’s quick to the tuck and secures the football underneath his outside arm and away from the defender.

Here, on the right side of the line, Henry sells the run block off of a play-action and then releases out into the flat for the easy misdirection reception. Once again, he gets himself going north and south quickly and has the football underneath the outside arm.

Here, Henry is lined up in the slot and once the defensive back across from him blitzes, he runs an in-breaking route between the second and third levels of the zone defense. Nice hands and a quick tuck allows Henry to get going up the field in a hurry.

Henry can make combative catches and you’ll see that here at the end of this play that features him running across the field before breaking his route up the far sideline. he’s able to use his big frame to somewhat shield off the late attempt of a pass breakup.

Summary: In the age of the college spread offenses, it’s rare that you’ll find a well-rounded tight end such as Henry. While he was used mostly on the end of the line of scrimmage, he lined up in the slot quite a bit in the three games that watched. While not blazing fast, Henry does get up the field in a hurry and without too much wasted motion. While his run blocking certainly stands to improve at the NFL level, he has a lot to work with in that phase of his game thanks to his ideal size and frame along with his willingness. While he doesn’t take plays off, you would like to see him finish some plays better.

Due to being limited to mostly live television angles, it’s hard to gauge the route running ability of Henry along with his ability to run the complete tree. He can certainly run away from linebackers and safeties both vertically and horizontally, however. While Henry is the first draft eligible tight end that I have taken an extensive look at, it’s hard to imagine that any of the others will be as well-rounded as he is. For that reason, he likely should be considered the top tight end in this year’s class and will thus likely be selected in the bottom half of the first round or early in the second round at the latest.

Projection: 1st Round

Games Watched: at Alabama, at Mississippi, vs Mississippi State

  • James Cowan

    Is he better than Maxx Williams was?

  • The Notorious TOM

    Finally<3 I love these. Still in the anti-TE in RD1 camp but Hunter seems like a nice dude, would way rather have him than have ended up with Maxx if I was forced into it.

    How about one of the DEs next? Pretty please and thank you.

  • Big Joe

    Thanks Dave. While we have several identified needs on defense, I remain in favor of selecting a player who will improve the team for the long-run. If it’s defense, then great. If not, with Heath in what is likely his last year and Spaeth really not being much of a pass catching threat, I’d rather improve the position for the long-haul with JJ last year and Henry this year. Both can be pass catching threats and in time both can become good blockers, especially with Spaeth continuing to mentor them. So long as the talent matches, this qualifies as a good 1st Rd selection in my book and would create another match-up problem for opposing defenses. That improves the team overall and reinforces the position to injury at the same time.

  • DoctorNoah

    Better than Maxx Williams?

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    While he may be the best at his position, and a better prospect than James, I’d just hate to see a te in the first. I just don’t value the position that highly. All of which means that he will be the choice lol.

  • falconsaftey43

    He’s a good TE, but lacks that ability to high point on jump balls that a guy like Eifert can, only true element lacking in his game.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    I can understand your value argument, but I think the Steelers are in a tough spot in the draft this year. Every position of need for help this coming year will probably have been picked over by the time the draft board gets to us. Here are my identified areas of need (in no order):

    1. QB – Backup for Ben
    2. TE – Heath replacement
    3. RB – Depth
    4. OT – Depth
    5. OG – Maybe starter if Foster leaves

    1. DE – Depth
    2. ILB – Timmons replacement, depth
    3. OLB – Starter and Depth
    4. CB – Shutdown #1
    5. S – Starter and depth

    So, when I look at that I see the following:

    1. Can be gotten through UFA
    2. Draft Only as I’m pretty happy with the 4 we have.
    3. Only if better than the 3 we have
    4. Could be determined by what happens to Beachum
    5. Will be determined by Foster

    1. Don’t need a starter, would be weird to take with #1 pick
    2. Will be determined by what they think of Williams and if they resign Spence
    3. If they don’t think Jones will ever get it done….I could see it.
    4. Major need, but what are the chances they are there when we pick
    5. Major need as we basically only have 1 guy signed, but again, are they there when we pick.

    I think chances are pretty good that the best player available at a position of need would very likely be a TE. If we are okay with Jones and happy with him, then fine move in another direction.

  • Mark 4 Steelers

    Unless he’s the 2nd coming of Gronk…there is absolutely no chance the Steelers take a TE in the first round this year.

  • Spencer Krick

    I’d be okay with this at 25.

    On a side note, looking forward to many more of these profiles. Love’m.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    Team no 1st rd TE’s!

  • Paddy

    Yeah but Eiffert is poor blocking, was at ND too.

  • Paddy

    Very athletic, just what they will need soon, like 2017.

  • Jeff Drummond

    No.

  • falconsaftey43

    Eh, I dont really know if I would say Henry is a better blocker. He is ok, but falls of a lot and is inconsistent.

  • Douglas Andrews

    Steelers can certainly use a move TE. He has good hands and he can be coached up on his blocking hopefully. If he’s drafted at 25 I’d be okay with him.

  • Ike Evans

    Henry More well rounded and more polished……max may be more talented of the two but also the bigger risk of the two

  • Ike Evans

    I’d be down. ..thought there may be some guys to be had a bit later that are interesting

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    They’ll probably do something stupid and take Braxton in the first and piss us all off. But ohhhh, he’ll be Kordell 2.0. Ugh.

  • Ernest

    According to pospect grades given by NFL, Hunter is way better than Willams with a grade of 6.5 vs 5.6

  • thomas hmmmm

    I am almost willing to bet money that TE will not be the 1 round pick.. I hope I am right. I am pretty sure it will fall between OL and the secondary… No matter what any writer says, these are the two biggest areas of need. Plus I think they are pretty high on Jesse James, seeing how is main weakness was blocking and he looked pretty solid blocking this year.. His receiving skills were never in question.

  • thomas hmmmm

    In no order with a numbered list… LOL funny

  • SFIC

    I can’t find another player that would be better value than Henry. Maybe if one of the DTs/34de fall then maybe. There is not a CB or S or OLB or OT I like on rd1

  • Michael Pennant

    Great pick if we can get him. Henry and James would certainly help our red zone offense.

  • Ernest

    Hard for me to envision going with TE in 1st with all the holes we have on D. I remember when they drafted Heath in 1st we were also set on defense. All starting positions on D were solid. I’m not sure those two facets are exactly related.

  • Jeremy McClurg

    This draft is going to be very exciting for us Steelers fans, because I don’t have a clue who we are gonna pick

  • Superdriller316

    I hope Nick Vannett is on your list of TEs to profile.

  • Rusted Out

    I hope that’s true, but never say never. They say this guy is the premier TE coming out in the draft. If he’s there at 25, and a few DB’s and OLB’s are off the board, I can see the Steelers grabbing him.

  • PittsburghSports

    He’s on my board, but not sure we have room for a luxury pick, especially now if we need to find a Guard with Foster talking about leaving. SS, G, DE, OLB, CB are much bigger needs. Miller, Spaeth and James is solid depth compared to the other positions.

  • Shane Mitchell

    Henry has much better hands than Eifert.

  • Brandon Campbell

    Your damn right! That’s what seems to be misunderstood by others.Also that’s the area we’ve been trying to improve these last couple of years. Not only that but I think that a tightend that can stretch and control the middle of a defense will make our offense impossible to stop!

  • LucasY59

    Unless Henry blows up the combine, I’m not sure he will be a 1st rdr, I would be very surprised if he made it to the Steelers 2nd rd pick, but he would almost be a no brainer there (or someone would do what the ratbirds did last yr and trade up in front of them and steal the pick)

    I like his all around game, but I don’t think he will be BPA at the 25th pick (and the D needs more help than the O, between CB’s, Safeties, DL there should be a equally talented player available, also OL is the better position to invest a 1st rd pick on for the O, and there should be some good options to choose from at 25 for the OL) hopefully Outlaw will take the next step, and TE will be an early draft pick in 2017 (can’t believe OJ Howard went back to school, but would be a main prospect/target for the next draft)

    Vannett is another option in the 3rd (or maybe 4th rd? seems realistic with James making it to the 5th last yr, Vannett is a less exciting prospect to me, but with the lack of Talent at TE this yr he could get picked a lot earlier than JJ did) if they have to get younger at TE he is an option, but not as much of a value pick and a little bit of reaching for need which I dont like at any position.

    This might be Spaeths last yr, and Heath is unfortunately not gonna be around a whole lot longer either (I hate to put a # on it, but I think he might have 3 yrs left max, unless they are unable to find suitable talent to replace him and he stays past his prime, which with a guy like Heath is not totally bad, I think he will continue to go to work as long as they let him (like Aaron Smith and Keisel) will be hard to replace and hard to get rid of. with that being said, a TE is not a must draft position this yr, but will be the yr after.

  • NinjaMountie

    I only got to watch two games of his; both Miss St games, one from ’14 and the other from this year. Watching him catch the ball is fun in that he has natural hands and catches it with ease. He seems to run well against a very good D. I wasn’t as impressed with his blocking. While not terrible I think adequate is a generous grade. I thought he looked better in 2014 against Miss St than he did this year. Again, small sample size. I’m sure there would be huge improvements in this area for him as there was J James if we draft him.
    Still worth mentioning again…he catches the ball like a great WR….effortless.

  • Shane Mitchell

    He is one of the few players that might be available at pick 25 that would have an immediate impact next season, that is what we need out of this pick someone that helps us win a superbowl next season catching TD passes and sustaining drives. Heath was barely able to run by the end of the season he can not play the same amount of snaps this year.

  • Shane Mitchell

    Actually I wouldnt mind that pick, because Braxton Miller would be great returning kicks and I think he can not only play receiver but also be a third down back, he has instincts with the ball in his hands that are unreal.

  • Ivor Biggun

    Would prefer a blue chip player for the D. OLB or DL or maybe a DB. Someone like Dwayne Allen could fix TE need for a year or two. He’s apparently done in Indy.

  • Sonny Saks

    Draft him if best player on board..then release Heath and Speath save 5 million on cap..tough decisions have to be made to put more money on defense..that’s why New England stays strong

  • Razor Blade

    It would be nice to have him work with Heath for at least one year. But I am not sure that our offense outside of offensive line needs immediate help right now. Missing all the players this year, offense still looked pretty good and Jesse James did not look bad in the games he played. If we can have a healthy year, our offense could do some serious damage even with Heath still being our starting TE. There are only so many balls to go around. I would rather focus on the offensive line and secondary.

  • SteveM2

    Hunter Henry is faster than Williams.

  • SteveM2

    Braxton Miller isn’t first round material.

  • Mark Tercsak

    Quite frankly the Tight End spot is not a high priority , Jesse James appears to be a stud , I would say wait till later rounds, and when you look for one look for a solid blocker first ! Than you can build off that.

  • SFIC

    I’ve watched a lot of college tape on both of them.
    I would say it’s a pick your poison decision.
    Henry is more athletic, quicker, faster and will get separation. Like Eifert.
    Williams is bigger and a better red zone target. He’s like Heath.
    IMO, I like Henry more. He’s underrated as a blocker and is a type of weapon we have never had in a TE before.

  • disqus_8tmMXmccaM

    1 nt
    2 s
    3 cb
    4 te
    7 ol
    7 de

  • Shannon Stephenson

    If he is there when we pick I would strongly consider him

  • Joseph Boyd

    After yesterday’s news, I decided to circle back and check out this report and some tape myself. Dave, I think you nail it. The things that jump out to me about this kid are that he’ll make those contested catches and he doesn’t shy away from contact. I think he appears to be a willing blocker and, my favorite thing about him is when someone else makes the catch, his head is on a swivel to find that block that extends the play.

    You mention that you can’t see him run the route tree, but that was one criticism I saw in the Kansas State bowl game. It looked as though some routes were rounded and even lackadaisical. Could be that TE routes are a bit softer in search of zone holes.

    But in the Mississippi State game, he looked crisp and strong out of breaks and he dominated in that game.

    I’d prefer defense in Rd 1, but I would not be disappointed if Pgh grabbed this kid.