Willie Henry could be heading into a big season for the Baltimore Ravens:
One could argue that Willie Henry already had his breakout season. Henry had 33 tackles and 3.5 sacks in the 2017 season. While these aren’t eye popping numbers, Henry put himself on the radar in his second season. Now, Henry has a chance to build a decent bit of career momentum going into his third season.
When you look at the Ravens defensive line, there aren’t a lot of players like Henry. Brandon Williams, Michael Pierce and Brent Urban are run stuffing, space eating players. Henry is a player who can get penetration into the backfield and be a disruptive force. Even in the 3-4 defense the Ravens run, where defensive linemen are often asked to handle two gaps, there will always be a need for players who can knife through.
Henry is an explosive athlete. He wins because his first step isn’t wasteful and it’s hard for offensive linemen to handle. Every indication says that Don Martindale wants to be an aggressive defensive coordinator. Look for Martindale to put Henry in the game in third down situations where he needs pass rush. The Ravens have immovable objects, they need more pass rush.
Henry had most of his production in the second half of the season. Henry earned a spot in the defensive line rotation and he became an important part of the defense. Because Henry was able to come alive later in the year, it seems like a full season of production is on the way.
The Bottom Line:
Henry didn’t record a single statistic in his rookie season. The Ravens drafted him for his upside, not his NFL readiness. The Ravens saw talent and they have waited for it to come into fruition. Henry has a lot of potential and it seems like the light has turned on.
Henry could have six to eight sacks in the 2018 season. If he gets enough playing time, he is going to get to the quarterback a handful of times. Ravens fans should expect Henry to be a disruptive force for their defensive line. Yes, the Ravens have good defensive linemen around Henry, but Henry could become the best pass rusher in the group.