2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Matt Henningsen

2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Matt Henningsen

by April 20, 2022 0 comments

Defensive tackle sleepers are rising from their ruins, and tons are getting steam just over a week out from Draft Day. One of these guys getting some hype is Wisconsin’s, Matt Henningsen. Henningsen was not invited to the 2022 NFL Combine, so he has been pushed aside until he exploded at his Pro Day. Here, Henningsen posted a 9.3 raw athletic score, ranking 97th across 1,378 defensive tackles since the metric began in 1987. He also posted historic numbers in explosiveness testing. Now, we must determine if Henningsen is more than just an athletic freak or if he’s a product of offseason talk. 

Make sure to check out all of our other NFL Draft Scouting Reports.

Player Bio

Name: Matt Henningsen
Jersey: No. 92
Position: Defensive Tackle
School: Wisconsin
Class: Senior
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 290 lbs

Games Watched: Northwestern (2021), Notre Dame (2021), Michigan (2019), Ohio State (2019)

Major Injury History: Season Ending Arm Injury (2020)

Player Breakdown

Block Shedding (12/15)

Even in the 2019 games, you could see Henningsen has a very nice technique when shedding blocks. He can rip right off guys while packing some other moves as well. Something we’ll note throughout this evaluation is that Henningsen does not have a very quick first step. However, he is a very explosive football player, one of the most explosive in this class out of any position. This allows him to get into the lineman’s pads, attack one shoulder, and essentially sell them off to get into the backfield. In addition, Henningsen has some nice bend to dip right under the guards.

Strength at LOS (11.5/15)

This is a bit of an inconsistent area for Henningsen. He’s done well enough to stay still or even drive some guys back on most plays but struggles in outside concepts. Here, Henningsen has allowed linemen to move him horizontally, allowing for holes to open up for the ball carrier in Henningsen’s gap. He does get nice leverage when working downhill against the inside, which is a promising tool off the get-go.

Pass-Rush Ability (11.5/15)

Henningsen has been a nice producer on the pass-rush front for Wisconsin, though it’s not the forefront of his game. In three seasons, Henningsen racked up 8.5 sacks with the Badgers. Like in his block shedding, Henningsen liked to square up lineman early and attack one shoulder. He’ll also use an underrated bend to create an ankle flexion and get his legs nearly parallel to the ground. Due to his size, Henningsen is an excellent option for quarterback contains, as he has active hands during these sets and is big enough to stop the run from the edge in a three-rush scheme. 

Consistency (11.5/15)

Consistency isn’t much of an issue for Henningsen. He’ll almost always give you something, though there are those times when he’s been driven back, especially horizontally. If he’s able to clean those reps up, we are looking at a much more consistent defensive tackle, one that can make some big-time impacts on NFL games. What Henningsen does do well is utilize his moves with precise technique and doesn’t lose control throughout the rep. 

Push (8/10)

This is one of Henningsen’s most underrated traits. He has a very nice drive, and there were at least 5-7 plays in which he pushed a lineman back near the quarterback. When that explosiveness kicks in, Henningsen can send a guy back yards. It’s the first step, though, that can hold him back with the push. If you give Henningsen too much space, he’ll win the rep easily, but if you get up in his space and take advantage of the first step, the lineman will have a simple rep. 

Length Usage (6/10)

Henningsen’s arms look shorter on film than they actually are. He has inconsistent length usage, although it was something that improved from 2019-to-2021. In 2019, Henningsen rarely got the arms extended. This basically took him right out of the playoff the bat. In 2021, he kept those arms relatively extended, and can even get them far out, which is almost an instant win for Henningsen.

Athleticism (9.25/10)

If you are talking about elite athletes at the defensive tackle position, Henningsen is one of them. As we mentioned in the intro, he posted a 9.3 RAS score with ridiculous explosion numbers. This is all replicated on film as Henningsen can make up for that bad first step by shooting right into the lineman and getting into his counter. Henningsen also looks rather quick laterally, and is a good option for stuns and twists because of this.

Football IQ (7/10)

Patience is a virtue for Henningsen, especially in outside schemes. You can see him almost in slow motion scan the play developing when he does have to make a choice of who to hit. Something Henningsen could improve on is picking up pulling lineman, or tight ends, against split zone schemes. He got chipped a few times in this area, and it cost the Badgers some yardage. This is not a seriously large issue, and Henningsen is a smart football player for the most part.

Player Summary

Henningsen is better than most of the later-round defensive tackles. The explosiveness jumps off the charts right away. He can fit into any NFL scheme and will likely go on Day 3. If he does, in fact, end up in the fourth round or later, every single front office should be jumping to get this guy. There’s unlimited potential with the tools he has, the motor he brings, and the functional strength that has improved so much over the last three seasons. If teams have the time to develop Henningsen, this would be an excellent value pick as he can become a future starter.

Rookie Projection: Rotational Defensive Tackle

Third-Year Projection: Lower-Tier Starting Defensive Tackle

Player Grade (76.75/100): Late Third-Round

Pro Comparison: LaCale London


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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images 

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