Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry is rushing his way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
That take may sound extremely premature at first glance. Already in his fifth league season, Henry isn’t among the top-100 rushers in league history and only has one rushing title to his name.
Henry can thank former Denver Broncos star Terrell Davis for this one. At his current pace, the Tennessee Titans star doesn’t need to do much more to earn a bust near the one Davis has in Canton, Ohio.
Derrick Henry is the NFL’s best running back
Through Week 12 of the 2020 season, Henry has 5,090 rushing yards and 50 touchdowns on 4.8 yards per carry.
After spending his first two years as a backup, Henry exploded onto the scene late in 2018. Henry had a 99-yard rushing touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday Night Football, a score which later pushed him to his first 1,000-yard campaign; Henry ended his first year under Mike Vrabel with 1,059 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Then came last year, where Henry earned Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro honors and led the league in rushing yards (1,540) and rushing touchdowns (16).
Henry has been an excellent playoff performer, too, totaling 630 yards and three touchdowns on 5.3 yards per carry in five career postseason games.
Henry is no slouch in the passing game, either. He’s turned 71 career catches into 671 yards and three scores. Henry also had a 3-yard passing touchdown in the AFC divisional round upset of Lamar Jackson and the Ravens last January.
Henry is on pace to finish 2020 with incredible numbers
At his current pace, Derrick Henry is going to have an impressive MVP case to make when the season ends.
Henry ran for an NFL-high 1,257 yards and 12 touchdowns on 4.9 yards per carry in the Titans’ first 11 games. Across a full-16 game season, Henry is on pace to run for 1,829 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Henry’s 12 rushing touchdowns narrowly trail Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, who ended Week 12 with 13 scores. However, Henry’s 1,257 yards lead Cook’s 1,130 rushing yards; they are the only two players this season who have topped 1,000 rushing yards so far.
Tennessee is 8-3 and leads the AFC South Division. If the season ended today, Tennessee would be the No. 3 seed ahead of Buffalo; the Titans took down the Bills, who are also 8-3, in a 42-16 rout on October 13.
Derrick Henry has all but clinched his Hall of Fame bust
When Terrell Davis entered the Hall of Fame in 2017, he effectively set a new baseline for acceptable parameters.
Davis was an elite running back in his prime, but injuries limited him to seven seasons. The former Denver Broncos star finished his career with 7,607 yards (55th all-time) and 60 rushing touchdowns (tied for 52nd all-time).
Derrick Henry already has 50 rushing touchdowns, which has him tied for 77th all-time. If Henry can finish the season with 56 rushing scores, he’ll move into a five-way tie for 57th-place.
Henry only ranks 139th in rushing yards, but that can quickly change. If Henry, who sits at 5,090, can reach 5,400 before the season ends, he’ll already be inside the top-120.
Over the past three seasons, Derrick Henry has averaged 1,285 yards and 13 touchdowns per year. If Henry finishes this season at an even 1,800 yards, If Henry finishes this season at an even 1,800 yards, he’ll have gained 543 more yards this season and 5,633 for his career. That would be enough for 108th all-time.
All of this is to say that Henry is already on pace to make the Hall of Fame. If he has two more elite seasons, he’ll have passed the Terrell Davis-baseline for what makes a Hall of Fame running back — and one could argue he’ll have reached it in February if Tennessee wins the Super Bowl.
All stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.