A year ago at this time, Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry was the undisputed best running back in the NFL after rushing for 2,027 yards in 2020.

Fast forward a year and Henry, who is one of only eight running backs in NFL history to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season, isn’t even a tier-one running back anymore — at least according to Pro Football Focus.

PFF revealed their running back rankings and tiers this week and they have Henry ranked as the No. 3 running back in the NFL and in the second tier of running backs.

Henry is in a tier with Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, and Alvin Kamara.

Jonathan Taylor and Nick Chubb are the only two running backs listed in the top tier (Taylor is ranked No. 1 and Chubb is ranked No. 2).

From PFF:

If this were simply a list of the top running backs in the NFL over the last three seasons, Henry would find himself at the top. He’s been the most valuable running back in the league according to PFF’s wins above replacement (WAR) metric, and his 4,503 rushing yards are over 600 more than the next closest back despite him missing roughly half of the 2021 season. However, there is some reason for concern pertaining to Henry’s ability to maintain that level of play moving forward.

Titans Derrick Henry
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) scores a touchdown in the second quarter during an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.
Cincinnati Bengals At Tennessee Titans Jan 22 Afc Divisional Playoffs

I somewhat understand the concern about Henry’s health. He’s received 1,673 touches over the last three seasons. And he missed nine games last year due to a Jones fracture (he returned for the Titans’ playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals).

However, it’s also important to remember that Henry isn’t built like most NFL running backs. He’s 6-foot-3/247 lbs. If anyone can hold up under excessive usage, it’s Henry.

Let’s also not forget that Henry was on pace for another historic season in 2021. If you extrapolate his numbers from the first eight games of the season over a full 17-game season, you’ll see that Henry was on pace for 1,991 rushing yards, 21 rushing touchdowns, and 327 receiving yards (the touchdowns and receiving yards would’ve been career highs).

If Henry is healthy in 2022 — and he’s expected to start the season at 100 percent — then there’s no reason to think that the 28-year-old running back won’t pick up where he left off in 2021 before his injury.

Henry is still a top-tier running back and I feel confident that he’ll remind us all of that in 2022.

Featured image via USA TODAY Sports