LA Chargers News

In depth look at Hunter Henry’s opportunity for a breakout year

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 08: Hunter Henry
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 08: Hunter Henry
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SAN DIEGO – NOVEMBER 13: Tyrell Williams #16 of the San Diego Chargers is congratulated by teammate Hunter Henry #86 after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter at Qualcomm Stadium on November 13, 2016 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO – NOVEMBER 13: Tyrell Williams #16 of the San Diego Chargers is congratulated by teammate Hunter Henry #86 after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter at Qualcomm Stadium on November 13, 2016 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

Hunter Henry: Production from the slot

Although Williams made his living as a deep threat he actually spent 26 percent of his eighty percent snap share on offense out of the slot last season. Compare that to the other receivers on the team: Allen spent about half of his time working from the slot, Williams had a 22 percent snap rate from the slot, and Benjamin worked from the slot about twenty percent of the time back in the 2017. In the two years he was healthy, Henry was only running about thirteen percent of his routes from the slot, but that was when he was splitting time with future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates who only had a 14 percent target share. Although Henry can thrive in the traditional tight end role, look for the team to create mismatches by moving him out in the slot more frequently this season.

Speaking of Gates, the team should look no further than him for an example of how they can use Henry in the slot. Per Pro Football Focus, Gates was the number two tight end in yards amassed from the slot from 2014-2016 with 1,243 yards over those years. Gates has been a master of using his body and athleticism to create mismatches over the course of his career, something the Chargers took full advantage of. Henry doesn’t have that same veteran savvy yet, but he is a fluid route runner and has proven to be able use his size, strong hands, and speed to consistently come down with contested catches like the one below. Henry should be able to replicate that kind of success when positioned from the slot, building upon the role Gates had before him.

Philip Rivers goes DEEP…

Hunter Henry hauls it in for SIX! #LACvsNYG pic.twitter.com/TLVpWwMIwY

— NFL (@NFL) October 8, 2017

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