"If you go back and watch my college film and you watch the Rams film, its the same," Henderson told the Los Angeles Times this week. "I thought that was the best system I could get in. So everything worked out great. When I was talking to them, everything was clicking and we developed a relationship. The coaches told me they knew they were going to get me so it was the perfect fit."
What you see on Hendersons college film is a lot of yards and a lot of house calls. The Memphis running back left college with 3,545 rushing yards on 431 carries and 36 rushing touchdowns (44 in total). Henderson averaged 8.2 yards per carry during his college career and 8.9 YPC during his final two seasons.
While its highly unlikely that, over the course of a season, Henderson will be able to keep up that pace against non-AAC defenses, the running back doesnt expect to carry the load in Los Angeles right out of the gate. Why should he, with a former Offensive Player of the Year in Gurley ahead of him on the depth chart?
"Todds a great guy and hes someone that every running back should want to learn from," Henderson said. "Getting to be there with him and getting to work with him every day is an unbelievable opportunity. Im just going to take the knowledge he gives me and watch how he works and learn from it and bring it to my game."
Henderson, along with Malcolm Brown, might have to spell Gurley more often in 2019 than the star back is used to. Gurley was uncharacteristically unproductive and sometimes absent in Los Angeles final two games last season, including the Super Bowl. He and the Rams denied his relative lack of action (16 touches, 47 yards, TD) was due to injury, though Gurley had missed L.A.s final two regular-season contests with a knee issue.
The Rams plans for Henderson were hinted at in a behind-the-scenes clip promoted by the team, in which general manager Les Snead said in the lead-up to drafting Henderson that the back has an "[Alvin] Kamara element." Rams coach Sean McVay said that Henderson had a "specific skill set" and could do "unique" things for the offense.
While those terms describing Henderson dont scream "contender for the starting job," its noteworthy that Kamara, also a third-round pick of the Saints and initially third on the depth chart behind Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson, was a lethal backfield option in his rookie season, averaging 7.7 yards per touch and scoring 13 touchdowns in his first year.
The Los Angeles Rams didn’t land any surefire starters in the draft like most other teams did, largely because their roster is so deep and talented. However, their rookies will still have a chance to compete and contribute next season.
This is more of a fun exercise than a scientific projection, considering how difficult it is to project stats for players who have never taken an NFL field. However, we’ve predicted stats for the Rams’ rookies, excluding offensive linemen and undrafted free agents.
Rapp is probably going to be around the line of scrimmage a lot next season, even if hes not a full-time player. Hell play safety and likely get snaps as a hybrid linebacker when the Rams go to their dime package in obvious passing situations. His interception numbers won’t be eye-popping, but he should rack up a fair amount of tackles.
Its difficult to gauge just how much Henderson will play next season. Malcolm Brown will probably be the more traditional No. 2 back, while Henderson will mix things up as a receiver and change-of-pace guy. Then theres the uncertainty surrounding Todd Gurleys knee.
Regardless, Henderson should get about five touches per game, if not more, and will score a handful of touchdowns thanks to his speed. He may not average 8.2 yards per carry like he did in college, but he should be above the 5-yard mark.
Assuming Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters and Nickell Robey-Coleman dont play all 16 games, Long will earn a role as a rookie. Troy Hill and Sam Shields played 766 snaps combined last season with Talib injured, and while Long won’t be out there that much, he will get playing time. Hes a willing tackler and will contribute on special teams, which is where he could make most of his tackles.
Gaines might get the most playing time of any Rams rookie, which should translate to some decent numbers. He won’t have 59 tackles like Ndamukong Suh last season, but hell make his way into opposing backfields enough to earn a sack or two and a few tackles for loss. His snaps may be limited if the Rams view him as a two-down player, though.
Scott has a chance to be a special teams ace for the Rams, playing multiple different roles. His speed and effort make him a quality gunner and a valuable player on kickoff coverage. Scott won’t play many snaps on defense barring an injury, but expect to see him on several special teams units right away.
Allen has a steep climb to becoming a defensive starter, which is unlikely to happen, but like Scott, he has to earn a spot on the roster through special teams. Hell make an impact in that phase of the game and the bold prediction here is a forced fumble on kickoff coverage, Ramik Wilson style.