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247-Pound Derrick Henry Ran Faster Than Any NFL Player This Season

In Tuesday’s Hot Clicks: King Henry’s latest unbelievable feat, yet another grand slam for the Red Sox and more.

He’s a freak

Derrick Henry ran for 143 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries during the Titans’ 34–31 victory over the Bills on Monday night. Those numbers are obviously outrageous, but they’re also just what we’ve come to expect from the two-time defending NFL rushing champion.

Everyone knows that Henry, who at 6' 3", 247 pounds is roughly the same size as Von Miller and T.J. Watt, can barrel his way through a defense with brute force. That’s what he did on this three-yard score:

But Henry also has the blazing top speed of a guy much smaller than him. On his 76-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter, Henry shook off contact near the line of scrimmage and then kicked it into gear to motor right past the last two guys who had a chance of stopping him.

Henry reached a top speed of 21.8 mph on the run, the fastest top speed of any ball carrier so far this season. Here are the guys behind him on that list: Henry Ruggs (6',190 pounds), Devin Duvernay (5' 11", 200 pounds), Jalen Reagor (5' 11", 197 pounds), Trenton Cannon (5' 11", 185 pounds) and Quez Watkins (6',193 pounds). Henry is at least three inches taller and 47 pounds heavier than all those guys.

Now, it’s important to put Henry’s run in context. NFL players don’t often get the chance to reach their top speed in a game. And 21.8 mph isn’t some untouchable sprint speed. Last season, the fastest top speed belonged to Raheem Mostert at 23.09 mph. Henry’s 21.8 would have been eighth-best in the league in 2020. But still, it’s ridiculous that a guy his size is capable of reaching the same in-game speeds as the slimmer guys on that list.

It’s also fun to convert Henry’s 21.8 mph to feet per second, so that you can compare him to the fastest players in MLB. 

MLB’s Statcast only publicly releases players’ average sprint speeds, not individual fastest top speeds like the NFL does. Isn’t really fair to look at numbers generated by two different player-tracking systems and compare them too closely, plus, Henry had more than 90 feet to reach his top speed, but the point still stands: Henry is really fast. 

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Trea Turner and Tim Locastro were tied for the title of fastest player in baseball this season with an average sprint speed of 30.7 feet per second. Henry reached 32 feet per second on his run on Monday. (Turner also led the majors in “bolts,” which are individual runs where the player reaches at least 30 feet per second.)

MLB sprint speed leaderboard

Henry’s combination of speed and strength is what makes him the league’s most dominant running back, and one of the most entertaining to watch. That’s why it’s so shocking that the Titans didn’t make him their lead back until the end of his third season in the league. Every other team in the NFL wishes he was still splitting time with Dion Lewis. 

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