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Alabama's Derrick Henry approaching NFL Draft 'like I'm the underdog'

By Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange   |   Feb. 24, 2016 at 10:32 PM
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INDIANAPOLIS -- From Heisman Trophy winner and national champion, Alabama running back Derrick Henry enters the 2016 NFL Draft as the underdog.

"I just want an opportunity," said Henry, who is 6 feet 2 1/2, 247 pounds after official measurements were taken for running back prospects here Wednesday.

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That's massive for a running back, as big as some outside linebacker and defensive end prospects in the NFL.

As a relative comparison, Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller was 6-3, 246 at the 2011 NFL Combine before he was drafted second overall by the Denver Broncos as a pass rusher. The top-rated linebacker by NFLDraftScout.com, UCLA's Myles Jack, is 6-1, 245, and Henry is bigger than three other linebackers ranked in the top 20: Alabama inside linebacker Reggie Ragland (6-1, 259), Ohio State outside linebacker Darron Lee (6-1, 235) and Notre Dame outside linebacker Jaylon Smith (6-3, 240).

"I was kinda shocked I was 247 this morning," Henry said of the weigh-in, adding that his ideal playing weight is about 241.

"I was drinking a lot of water just so I could add a little weight. But I didn't think I'd be that heavy. I won't stay that weight. It will go off in a day or two."

Henry is taking in stride projections that list him as a second-round pick. Only Ohio State junior Ezekiel Elliott (6-0, 225) is pegged as a sure first-round pick in April.

"I'm approaching it like I'm the underdog," Henry said.

Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome -- the former NFL tight end and Alabama alumnus -- downplayed Henry's super-sized status as a fit in the NFL during a press conference about one hour after the running back spoke 25 yards away. His workload, including a 2,788-yard season in high school, might be a red flag to some teams.

He had 395 carries in lifting Alabama to the national championship and bagging the Heisman in 2015. With 620 touches in three seasons, Henry was nowhere close to some other well-worn college backs like Matt Forte (936 touches at Tulane) and DeMarco Murray (916, Oklahoma).

Newsome referenced an old-timer -- 1976 No. 3 overall pick Chuck Muncie, who was 6-3, 230 coming out of Cal -- when posturing that Henry's weight was no worry. Muncie was the first 1,000-yard rusher in New Orleans Saints history and was traded to the San Diego Chargers, where he was a key figure in Don Coryell's legendary passing offense. A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Muncie rushed for 6,702 yards and 71 touchdowns during his career.

Henry rushed for an SEC-record 2,219 yards in 2015, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. His college hardware matter not this week.

Truth will be told when Henry steps to the line for the 40-yard dash on Friday. He would not divulge the magic number he had in mind for the 40 time he needs to run, but Henry said he knows precisely where he should be.

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