Hunter Henry is 25-years-old and stands at 6'5", and weighs in at 250-pound tight end for the Los Angeles Chargers. Henry was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, and moved to Atlanta when he was still young.
In high school, he played a combination of an offensive tackle, wide receiver, and defensive end. His entire high school career, he did not play tight end. By the end of his high school career, he was considered one of the top recruits in the country.
Hunter chose to enroll in Arkansas following the steps of his father, who represented the Razorbacks as an offensive lineman. Henry was involved in a crazy play that led to a first down conversion on fourth and 25 in an overtime game versus rival Ole Miss. The play included laterals and an eventual game-winning touchdown. Henry began to get more recognition, which eventually allowed him to win the John Mackey Award for the best tight end in the nation.
Henry was expected to be a late first or second-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft but managed to skip most of the physical drills at the NFL combine. He did improve his draft stock by running a 4.67 40-yard dash, making him the top tight end selected, going in the second round.
Henry would score the second-most touchdowns (8) by a rookie tight end in the last decade, only behind Rob Gronkowski (10). The following season, Henry would suffer a knee injury in Week 15, as well as an abdominal injury, which put him on the injured reserve.
The most common way to lacerate a kidney is to suffer a massive hit to the side or back of your trunk, leading to a rib fracture, which instead of protecting the internal organs, instead becomes an object of harm.
The small sharp edge of the fractured rib then usually takes a slice out of the kidney, which looks like two huge sponges. Injuries to kidneys can range from minor to very serious. In order to treat his kidney injury, it is unclear if Henry needed surgery or only rest and rehabilitation. The kidneys are vital to controlling the blood pressure as well as several other essential functions for our body, and should always be carefully monitored.
The following year, 2018, Henry suffered a torn ACL during the spring OTA's. Traditionally ACL injuries take anywhere from 9 months to 12 months to return to the field, and up to 24 months to hurtle the mental obstacles.
Rarely are torn ACLs isolated injuries; instead, they are often included with sprains to other ligaments (MCL), and quite often tears of the meniscus. Impressively he was able to return in a playoff game in early January, nine months after his surgery. Here’s more info on the surgery.
In 2019, Henry suffered a tibial plateau fracture to the left knee, the same knee he had tweaked several years prior. This injury is traditionally a severe knee injury and can be detrimental to the knee. The tibial plateau is the top layer of bone that serves as the base of the knee, and if not structurally stable, then it will not perform as expected ever again.
Since Henry returned in less than six weeks, we can assume that this was a minimal fracture. Likely an avulsion fracture instead of what we traditionally think of as a tibial plateau fracture (large fracture, bone-in multiple pieces). If this were a sizable significant fracture, he would've undergone huge surgery with screw placement, similar to what JJ Watt had a couple of years ago.
The MCL and LCL connect, running north to south, on each side of the knee. If a ligament becomes strained severely enough, it could've taken a piece of the tibial plateau with it. That is likely what happened to Henry.
Depending on the location and severity of the fracture, ranging from avulsion to the bone being in several pieces, treatments vary as a result. There was, and continues to be, minimal information reported about this significant injury, which makes a challenging analysis.
Despite this knee injury, Henry finished a respectable season with 55 catches, five touchdowns, and 650 receiving yards, finishing as a TE9 in half-PPR leagues.
Henry will need to rely on either the services of Tyrod Taylor or rookie Justin Herbert now that Philip Rivers is in Indianapolis. He will also be under a franchise tag but has a chance for an extension in July. The reason for the tag instead of a longer term contract is the difficulty in putting faith into a player that has missed 36% of the regular season games because of his injury history.
However, he has been a solid TE1 when healthy. Henry has a career average of 8.9 yards per target that puts him in the top-ten of all tight ends in 2016, 2017, and 2019.
The Chargers will reduce throwing the ball with Taylor or Herbert at the helm. Look for the 597 passes that was 10th in the league to decrease to around 16-20th. There is a vast disparity between Rivers and Taylor or even more with Herbert.
Another issue is that Taylor is multi-dimensional, which will cut down the dump-offs to Henry and now will now turn into rushing plays for Taylor. However, Henry will have value over the middle and in the zone areas for both Taylor and Herbert.
Henry should continue to be a red-zone threat, especially near the goal line. That offensive schematic will not change, but upgrades to the offensive line are needed.
The Chargers brought in Bryan Bulaga to supplant the ineffective Trent Scott at right tackle. Sam Tevi remains at left, but Trey Pipkins, Scott, and Storm Norton will all have a chance to take over if he continues to be ineffective at left tackle. Dan Feeney and Mike Pouncey return. The Chargers are hoping Trai Turner can upgrade the right guard slot. Will Forrest Lamp ever be healthy?
Henry should finish as one of the top receivers on the team. Keenan Allen is a WR1, and Mike Williams is consistently improving. At the same time, Austin Ekeler was a beast in 2019, catching 92 passes (10.8 YPC) with Melvin Gordon, now in Denver, adding another 42 catches as well. The Chargers drafted three offensive pieces in the 2020 NFL Draft, RB Joshua Kelley in the 4th, and WRs Joe Reed and K.J. Hill in the 5th & 7th rounds, respectively.
The success for Henry relies on how well the quarterback position can play, in addition to his health. Unfortunately, that hasn't been easy for him. He has a chance to finish the year as a TE1 if he stays healthy. If he plays all 16 games (he has yet to do that in his career), there is a chance he finishes as a top 8 tight end, but the concern lies more with his health than the QB play.
Sports Injury Predictor calculates that Henry has a 51.1% chance of injury in 2020, which is middle of the road for TEs. It translates to a 4.4% chance of injury per game.
Unfortunately, Henry has suffered a couple of significant injuries that have affected his short NFL career. The torn ACL of his right knee, tibial plateau fracture of his left knee, and a lacerated kidney.
I would not be surprised if he suffered another knee injury, likely to his left, over the next couple of years.
When you think about drafting Henry, remember that he has missed 36% of the games he could have played in (23-of-64 regular-season games) because of injuries. His security blanket Philip Rivers is no longer there. He has a top-10 TE potential, but he's very risky.
There are several other tight ends I'd prefer with safer floors and higher upsides. I will give him a moderate risk score of 6/10. Predominantly secondary to the recurring, although unique, knee injuries that have plagued him, and will unfortunately likely resurface again in some capacity.
With Hunter Henry health risk there are several other tight ends that an owner can choose from that don't involve a new QB and a team looking to run more than pass. Henry can finish as a TE1, but his price tag as the sixth TE off the board is too expensive and he should finish in the TE10-12 range.Injury Risk: Moderate 6/10.
|Projected Missed||Probability of injury per game ?||Probablity of injury in the season ?|
|Sep 8, 2019||Leg Tibial Plateau Fracture||Hunter Henry suffered a tibia plateau fracture to his left knee during the game versus the Indianapolis Colts. He was sidelined for 4 games|
|May 22, 2018||Knee ACL Tear Grade 3||Henry tore his right ACL during OTAs on May 22. He missed the full regular season and the 1st playoff game but returned for the loss at New England.|
|Dec 16, 2017||Abdomen Kidney Lacerated||Henry suffered a "small" kidney laceration in Week 15 and missed the final 2 games.|
|Oct 30, 2016||Knee Strain Grade 1||Henry hurt his left knee against the Broncos. He returned to finish that game but missed the next. He returned in Week 10 (before a Week 11 bye).|
|Oct 23, 2016||Head Cranial Concussion Grade 1||Henry entered league concussion protocol and was cleared for the following game.|