Willie Henry was a fourth-round pick in 2016 on the back of an impressive three-year stint with Michigan, but his NFL career didn’t start in the same way. His rookie year was swiped due to an injury and despite a 3.5 sack season one year later, he picked up a sports hernia injury in 2018 that prevented him from making the roster in 2019 after a shortened 2018 campaign.
Since then, he’s spent time on the Texans practice squad after failing to make the 49ers roster in the Summer of 2020. The 6’3, 288 lbs DT has a total of 36 tackles and 4.5 sacks through 17 appearances.
If he can get back to his 2017 form, there’s a chance he could really challenge Hassan Ridgeway for a roster spot. He’ll join the back end of the DT rotation for now, but with 11 QB hits and 6.5 TFL to his name that year, it’s very apparent that when he’s at his best, Henry can showcase some of the traits that made him so lethal at Michigan.
Willie Henry is probably on borrowed time when it comes to salvaging his reputation and long-term hopes of sticking to an NFL roster. He simply has to stay healthy this season but if he can do so, then we could see an exciting competition at the bottom end of the DT depth chart.
Behind Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave currently sit Hassan Ridegway and rookies Milton Williams and Marlon Tuipulotu. T.Y McGill and Raequan Williams will likely be vying for practice squad spots, but could also play a factor in this battle.
One thing that made the Eagles so dangerous in 2017 was their DT rotation. Since then, every contingency plan has been plagued by injury and it’s heaped a ton of pressure on Fletcher Cox. Here’s to hoping that a renewed focus on depth might finally take some of that weight off of the shoulders of himself and Javon Hargrave.
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