Hassan Haskins

When the Tennessee Titans selected running back Hassan Haskins in the fourth round (No. 131 overall) in the 2022 NFL Draft, it left some fans and analysts scratching their heads.

Although Haskins had just helped lead the Michigan Wolverines to arguably their best season in decades in 2021, the Titans already have Derrick Henry, possibly the best running back in all of football.

In the past three seasons, Henry has averaged 4.9 yards per carry and 115.5 rushing yards per game. He’s led the league in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns twice and was named the 2020 NFL Offensive Player of the Year.

But after suffering a Jones fracture in his foot, Henry was sidelined for nine games in the 2021 season. By the time the draft rolled around, general manager Jon Robinson had made it a priority to lighten Henry’s workload in order to minimize another crushing injury.

Enter Hassan Haskins.

The 22-year-old rookie is no stranger to big games. Haskins rushed for 1,327 yards in his senior season at Michigan to go along with 20 rushing touchdowns. In the Wolverines’ trademark win of the season, a 42-27 upset win over Ohio State on the road, Haskins jumped in the driver’s seat and tallied 169 yards and five touchdowns.

Haskins also had six other performances with more than 100 rushing yards in 2021. In the Wolverines’ lone regular season loss to in-state rival Michigan State, Haskins still led the Wolverines in rushing. He wasn’t able to get anything going versus the eventual national champion Georgia Bulldogs in the College Football Playoff, but the Bulldogs defensive line had its way all night.

The moral of the story is Haskins is a big-time player who is used to big games and adversity. While backing up Henry might take some mental adjustment, Haskins’ explosiveness and NFL-ready athleticism will help lighten Henry’s workload.

According to Titans head coach Mike Vrabel, Haskins has looked strong and fundamentally sound in training camp.

“There’s a good run style there,” Vrabel said Thursday. “He runs behind his pads. He’s got some play strength and versatility.”

Vrabel added that he and his staff would like to get Haskins more involved in the passing game and see some more consistency from him in that area of the offense. With a run-heavy offense and a quarterback like Ryan Tannehill who likes to utilize the short passing game, this could prove essential in determining Haskins’ snap count.

While Haskins surely has something left to prove in training camp and preseason, he has just as good a chance as any running back on the roster to be the thunder to Henry’s lightning. Besides, "Henry and Haskins" has a nice ring to it, right?