Should Chicago Bears draft Clemson Edge K.J. Henry?
The Chicago Bears spent in free agency, but this roster was not going to be fixed overnight. Now, they have to spend quality draft picks to fix the defensive line. Will the team have eyes on Clemson edge rusher K.J. Henry?
Chicago Bears Draft Profile: Clemson Edge Rusher K.J. Henry
K.J. Henry is a fifth-year senior. He spent the majority of his career as a rotational rusher, but last season he finally became a starter for the Tigers. He recorded 53 pressures last season on 380 pass rush attempts and had 51 pressures in the three other years that equaled 559 rush attempts. Needless to say he broke out. Overall he played 1,779 snaps, with 664 coming last season. The majority of his career snaps came outside the tackle, and he played with his hand in the dirt, as well as standing up.
K.J. Henry also got invited to the Senior Bowl, as well as the NFL combine. Below you can see his athletic profile.
He is on the smaller side for an edge rusher. The weight is fine, but the length is going to be an issue in the NFL. At the least, you saw some burst from the 40-yard dash, but he did not have great jump numbers, either. Was he a one-year wonder who needed to be older than his competition to succeed, or is there an upside to be found?
K.J. Henry projection to the NFL
The reality is that K.J. Henry will likely be a rotational edge rusher. He provides a floor being a former team captain at Clemson who also has special teams experience. He also gets after it in the run game and as a pass rusher. The want to and desire to make a play will always be there, and he plays with heavy hands.
Henry is efficient at twisting and stunting, and when he sees daylight, he is not afraid to attack it. Still, his lack of burst shows up on tape, and he is a bit slow to get a rush. You do not see him win on the outside with speed too often. His shorter arms will hurt him in the NFL, and his ability to use them in the run game is one of his better strengths. There is a question of how much upside he brings.
NFL Comparison for K.J. Henry
The best NFL comparison for K.J. Henry would be Chase Winovich. Below you can see how they compare.
They match up athletically, and they both are below average in length. Beyond that, they are both older prospects who happen to have outproduced the top 20 picks in their final season. Winovich rushed across from Rashan Gary, and Henry opposite Myles Murphy.
The high upside is with the others, but Winovich has found a stable career as a fourth edge rusher and special teams player. The reality is that the lack of initial burst, and length caught up to him, and he was not the same run stuffer in the NFL. This is the same fear with K.J. Henry.
Should Chicago Bears draft K.J. Henry?
The one reason it feels like K.J. Henry will be on the Chicago Bears radar is that he definitely fits the HITS principle. Hustle was almost the reason for all of his production, and went from off any draft board to be a mid-round pick because he worked so hard last year.
Beyond that, after Velus Jones we know that Ryan Poles will take an older prospect who had just one big year of production. The question will be if Henry falls to day three. With the special teams' floor, he is a great pick on day three, but does not have enough upside to be a day two pick.