History Tells Us That 2021 is Derrick Henry’s Prime Year

History Tells Us That 2021 is Derrick Henry’s Prime Year

Year 6 is a magical number for some of the NFL’s greatest running backs in recent memory. In this post, I’ll be exploring the statistics of NFL greats Ladainian Tomlinson, Adrian Peterson, Priest Holmes, Shaun Alexander, and Marshawn Lynch to draw a comparison to Derrick Henry and what we can expect from the franchise player in 2021.

Why is year 6 the magic number? It was the peak year in rushing yardage for all 5 of these players.

Ladainian Tomlinson

The Chargers drafted Tomlinson in 2001 and he immediately busted out of the gate.  He rushed for 1,000 yards in his first 8 seasons as a professional.  His best statistical season came in 2006 when he rushed for 1,816 yards and 28(!) touchdowns.

The record-breaking season by Tomlinson was incredible. 28 rushing touchdowns is a record that has not been touched since and will be difficult to break even with the 17 game season.

Highlights from LT that season.

Marshawn Lynch

Lynch was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 2007.  His best year as a professional was in 2012 in Seattle when Lynch rushed for 1,590 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Lynch reached the 1,000-yard mark two more times after that year, but never eclipsed 1,500 yards again.

Highlights from Marshawn that season.

Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson is probably the best running backs of the 2010s. He rushed for over 1200 yards in 7 seasons of his career.  His best year, however, was his 2097 yard season in 2012. He was drafted by the Vikings in 2007.

Highlights from AP that season.

Shaun Alexander

Drafted in 2000 by the Seattle Seahawks, Shaun Alexander was quietly one of the best running backs in the 2000s decade. He rushed for 1,000 yards in five straight seasons.  His best season came in 2005 when he rushed for 1880 yards and 27 touchdowns. TWENTY. SEVEN.

Priest Holmes

Holmes was drafted by Baltimore in 1997.  He scored 20 plus rushing touchdowns in two consecutive seasons. One of which was in 2002, when he rushed for 1615 yards.  His sixth season was his most productive.

Derrick Henry

Will Henry’s career arch repeat these greats? Anything can happen, but these stats are remarkable.  While completing my research, there were some anomalies, but most great running backs from the 2000s and 2010s had their best season in years 5,6, or 7, with year six being the most common.  The time for the Titans to shine is now, or risk letting Derrick Henry’s prime pass him by.

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