Tennessee Titans strengths and weaknesses: Running Backs

Derrick Henry #22, Tennessee Titans (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Derrick Henry #22, Tennessee Titans (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /
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Tennessee Titans
Tennessee Titans (Mandatory Credit: The Tennessean) /

The rookie in the room

The Titans selected Michigan running back Hassan Haskins in the 4th round of the 2021 NFL draft.

Haskins gives the team a Derrick Henry mini-me if the King is less than 100%. The Titans are expected to decrease Henry’s workload this season to keep him healthy, and Haskins seems primed to take advantage of those opportunities. He’s a 6’1” battering ram who runs like a Sherman tank.

Opposing defenses would be wise to not relax when Henry comes out and Haskins enters the game. He led the nation in first down runs with 96 and was tackled for a loss just 6 times last season.

Haskins also carried the football more than anyone in the Big 10 last season and didn’t fumble once. He’s strong, posting 27 reps on the bench press at the combine, the most of any running back in attendance, and more importantly, he is strong on the field as his 5 TD performance in the upset of Ohio State shows (side note, that must have made quite the impression on Mike Vrabel).

The knock against Haskins is that he lacks open-field speed, but as much as we fans love the 70-yard YouTube-worthy runs, the NFL is more often than not a game of inches and feet. Haskins is violent at the snap of the football and runs with a forward-leaning motion, vital in picking up those tough yards.

A long shot, but not to be overlooked, is undrafted rookie free agent Julius Chestnut out of the FCS program, Sacred Heart. Chestnut has a lot going for him; he has the size to be an every-down back at 6’1” and 215 pounds. He runs with a low pad level and hits the hole hard. The former Pioneer catches the ball with his hands and is a slippery route runner. His biggest challenge will be the steep adjustment to NFL competition.