The NFL season will kick off in just over two months, so it’s time for another series of articles to begin here at Bolt Beat. Between now and opening day, I will be predicting the stats for each member of the San Diego Chargers. Well, at least those that I feel will be part of the final 53-man roster.
Tight end Hunter Henry, this year’s second-round draft pick, will be the first rookie to make an appearance on my list.
There’s plenty to be excited about with Henry, who was easily the best tight end in this past draft. He has good hands and will be able to stay on the field as he is also a solid blocker in the running game. Having Henry will also give the Chargers the ability to line up in two tight-end sets from time to time.
Though Ladarius Green was lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers through free agency, he may be quickly forgotten now that Henry is in town, if he’s not already.
Henry is not a player that is going to sit and develop in San Diego. He will be on the field on opening day and might even be on the field for the team’s first offensive series of the year.
Let’s take a look at what Henry did last year while still in college.
2015 Statistics- Arkansas (13 games)
Receiving Yards: 739
Yards Per Catch: 14.5
Though tight ends usually transition into the professional level slowly, Henry will be an exception. A consensus All-American in 2015, Henry was tied for fourth in the nation in receptions among tight ends last year with 51. In a full, 16-game season in an offense ran by a quarterback as good as Philip Rivers, this kid could post huge numbers.
Still, there is a lot of mouths to feed in the passing game. Keenan Allen, Travis Benjamin, Stevie Johnson and Antonio Gates will all get their targets, so here’s what we see for Henry this year.
Projected 2016 Statistics
Receiving Yards: 980
Yards Per Catch: 15.0
As you can see, he’ll see a big jump in his numbers from college, mostly because he’ll be playing in more games. But he will also be able to translate his success from his days as a Razorback to sunny San Diego.
— Rand Getlin (@Rand_Getlin) June 30, 2016
Henry is going to be a rookie that the team is very happy with. He’ll flirt with 1,000 yards receiving, something only four tight ends—Rob Gronkowski, Greg Olsen, Delanie Walker and Gary Barnidge—did last season.
To put that number into perspective, Gronkowski had just 542 yards receiving as a rookie, while playing in all 16 games for the New England Patriots. In other words, these are massive projections for Henry, but he’ll see the field enough and he has enough talent to pull it off.