It can be hard to replace a perennial All-Pro. Luckily for the Chargers, despite Antonio Gates turning the ripe age of 37 in June, they’ve already found their solution to a seamless transition at tight end.
Unlike most rookie tight ends, Hunter Henry made an impact in his first season. The 2016 second-round pick caught 54 passes and tied Buccaneers target Cameron Brate for most touchdowns (eight) among the position.
Chargers tight end coach John McNulty, however, thinks that the Arkansas product was only scratching the surface of his potential in 2016.
“Hunter is a kid who is going to play a long time with a lot of successful seasons. For a young player, he’s got a tremendous amount of poise. He has rare awareness and savvy for someone his age,” McNulty said, via the team’s website. “The biggest thing is that he has ball skills. He can catch the ball that gets in on him fast, and he makes the contested catches with big, strong hands.”
The most impressive part about Henry’s game is that he can do it all. He quickly emerged as one of Philip Rivers‘ favorite targets, especially in scoring territory. Henry also proved that he could hold his own as a blocker.
“Nowadays you look and say, that guy is a blocker and that guy is a receiver. Not everyone is well-versed in both [areas],” McNulty said. “There are rare guys who you feel can do both at an exceptional level, but that is what Hunter has shown he can do already. I think he will keep getting stronger as a younger guy. … He has a great future ahead of him.”
The Chargers have an exciting collection of weapons for Rivers to deploy. Henry and first-round wideout Mike Williams are two of the young guns that can excite the masses in the team’s foray into Los Angeles.