Michigan’s defense was among the best in the nation this past season, and Willie Henry was the driving force behind that. Henry exploded this past season on the interior of Michigan’s defensive line. He saw steady improvement over his career in Ann Arbor and is a player who brings enormous upside to the team who drafts him. Teams will love his non-stop motor and continuous effort play after play. It would be criminal to see him slide past the 3rd round, but in a stacked defensive tackle class, that just might be the case this year.

Name: Willie Henry
Junior (RS)
3rd Round
Eric Downing

Strengths: Proportioned body with well-distributed mass, requisite length and very big hands. Meat in the middle of his body with a bubble. Comes off the snap quick and hot. Fast feet with a nimble body and a low center of gravity. Shocks linemen with his hands. Can play unusually low for a player of his size and bother linemen. Has the lower body strength to hold against double teams. Unrelenting in pursuit against the QB and shows surprising quickness and bend when moving around tackles. Hustle, heart, and on-field enthusiasm are off the charts. Plays like his cleats are on fire. Came out of relative obscurity and worked his way up making strides. Spends a lot of time in the weight-room and is known as a worker.

Weaknesses: Lacks elite athletic traits and his production is dependent on his effort. Less productive than he should have been due to poor anticipation and not keeping his head up. Generates power from his jump off the snap and isn’t nearly as powerful on later attempts to beat his man when in battle. Penalties showed up on tape, especially jumping early.

Overview: Willie Henry is as fun to watch as any interior lineman in this draft due to his effort level and explosion but he has hurdles to overcome regarding his ability to diagnose and make more impact on a play-by-play basis. If Henry continues to develop his effort level and work ethic could take him to heights few people could have imagined or he could just be limited to a rotational player. My bet is that he improves and becomes a quality starter as he gains experience.

About The Author Jesse Fritsch

Jesse Fritsch is a Wisconsin native who has spent 11 years independently evaluating NFL draft prospects and following the draft process. He happily spends most of his free time researching players and watching games in his man cave while occasionally coming up for air to share.