Draft Analysis: Chad Henne, QB, Michigan Wolverines

by Tim Piotrowski on March 3, 2008 @ 03:44:21 PDT

 


University of Michigan quarterback Chad Henne enters the 2008 NFL Draft as one of the few four-year starters at the position. Henne has shown that he can lead a team to some very successful seasons and to bowl games. Henne is a classic pocket passer with good enough accuracy to make most all necessary throws at the pro level.

Henne was thrown right into the mix as a freshman and started all of the team's 12 games that season, throwing for a career-high 25 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions. His freshman year was his best year statistically at Michigan, but his other years were not bad. In 2005, Henne again started every game and put up similar numbers to his inaugural season, throwing for 2,526 yards and 23 touchdowns during the season. More of the same was true in 2006, when the 6-foot-2 7/8 quarterback started all 13 games that season, while throwing 22 touchdowns. His final season was Henne's most difficult. He struggled throughout the season with leg, knee and shoulder injuries, which led to missing three games. However, he finished his career on a high note, bringing his team back to defeat the University of Florida in the 2007 Capital One Bowl. He went 25-for-39 passing for 373 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions in the game.

Henne showed during his collegiate career that he is a proven winner and is pretty durable for a quarterback. The only games he missed in his career were the ones during his senior season. Henne is following in a long line of prolific Michigan quarterbacks to enter the NFL. He finished his career with the team record in pass attempts, pass completions, passing yards, touchdowns and total yards of offense.

Positives

One plus of the Michigan product has going for him is his consistency in the statistical department while in college. He threw at least 20 touchdowns and at least 2,500 yards in each of his first three seasons with the Maize and Blue; he likely would have reached those plateaus if he would have been completely healthy last season. This type of consistency shows coaches and scouts what he can do when faced with some of the best defenses year after year; it should help scouts determine how he may project in the NFL.

Another plus for Henne is his experience factor. Being a four-year starter only helps him heading into the NFL. Potential suitors for the quarterback know how he responds in big games and know that he has been involved in many intense contests. It appears he knows how to handle himself in big games against of the NCAA's elite programs. His experience shows in the university's record books. He is the career leader in many of the major categories.

Henne is a pretty good passer when he has time to throw the football. Henne has shown above-average arm strength during his career and has the ability to throw into tight spaces. He has shown he can accurate with his throws, but at the combine he struggle a bit with sideline and post throws. He believes he is a smarter quarterback after playing the four years at Michigan, which should help his decision-making at the next level. Oakland Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin said he believes Henne will have a bright future in the NFL after watching and coaching him for a week at the Senior Bowl.

Negatives

A big negative against Henne is his lack of quickness and his inability to elude defenders. He was sacked at least 21 times in each of his first three years and was sacked 16 times last season, but that number would have likely been higher if he had not missed a few games. He finished his career with negative 315 yards rushing, which usually means an elevated sack total. He is not very effective if he is flushed out of the pocket and on the run, which hurts his accuracy. Although he is a good decision-maker, he sometimes throws unnecessary interceptions. He threw at least one interception in six of his nine games last season.

One of the more glaring things on Henne's resume is his poor record in big games. He was only 1-7 in his career in Bowl games, and he never beat arch-rival Ohio State, with the only win coming in his final collegiate game against Florida. He did have a few close losses against Ohio State, a four-point loss in 2005 and a three-point loss in 2006. At Michigan, one of the goals every year is to be the rival Buckeyes, and Henne was not able to do it once. One bright side for Henne in those games was he only threw two interceptions against Ohio State and both of those came in his freshman year.

Henne's stats, although consistent, declined some during his collegiate career, which may have some scouts and front office people questioning why this occurred. His career highs in completions, passing yards and touchdowns all came in his freshman season. Even though the drops were minimal, prospects will be scrutinized over every little thing.

One final red flag that popped up last season was the durability issue. Henne had to fight through leg, knee and shoulder injuries, which make evalutors start to question his durability. Henne was able to play every game in his first three years at Michigan, but the injuries popped up during his most crucial season. In his NFL Scouting Combine interview, he said his shoulder and knee are 100 percent, but Henne will surely be examined when he visits with teams before the draft.

Expected Draft Placement

Henne is currently fighting to be the second quarterback taken in the draft along with University of Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm, University of Delaware quarterback Joe Flacco and University of Kentucky quarterback Andre' Woodson. However, it is unlikely that Henne will be taken in the first round. His name will likely be called in either the second or third round.

During the NFL Scouting Combine, Henne said he met with the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins. Teams that will likely be interested in Henne are ones that either have an aging starter that can help groom Henne into an NFL starter or a team that have question marks at quarterback and can bring the Michigan quarterback in to compete for the top spot early in his career.

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About Tim Piotrowski

Piotrowski has been a Hot Off the Wire analyst since 2007.

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