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2017 Broncos roster: Rookie wide receiver Carlos Henderson

We continue with our daily series of breaking down the Denver Broncos 2017 90-man roster. Today we keep the football rolling looking at 2017 third-round pick, wide receiver Carlos Henderson.

NCAA Football: Armed Forces Bowl-Louisiana Tech vs Navy Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Name: Carlos Henderson
Position: WR
Height: 5'11" Weight: 199lbs
Age: 22 Experience: Rookie
College: Louisiana Tech

Heading into the draft, one position the Broncos scouts and talent evaluators focused their time on was the slot receiver position. They already have their two stars on the outside, but needed that explosive option in the slot for Mike McCoy’s offensive scheme that uses more spread/shotgun looks. Well, the Broncos found their man in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft when they selected former Louisiana Tech wide receiver Carlos Henderson with their 82nd pick.

Henderson played three seasons at Louisiana Tech and put up some impressive numbers including a breakout campaign this past season. During his three-year career at Louisiana Tech, Henderson totaled 147 receptions for 2,878 yards and 28 touchdowns. He also totaled 32 career rush attempts for 259 yards(8.1 yards per carry) and 2 touchdowns. During this past season, Henderson totaled 82 receptions for 1,535 yards and whopping 19 touchdown receptions. He also had two rushing touchdowns giving him a total of 21 total touchdowns on the offensive side of the ball in 2016.

He also was a productive kick returner during his college career as well. He totaled 79 kick returns during his three-year career for 2,094 yards(26.5 yards per return), and 3 touchdowns. This past season, he totaled 25 returns for 805 yards(32.2 yards per return) and 2 more touchdowns. These two touchdowns gave him a total of 23 touchdowns in 2016. That’s pretty damn good.

Henderson gives the Broncos an instant playmaker at wide receiver. Big plays were his thing this past season for Louisiana Tech and the Broncos hope that big play ability carries over into the NFL.

What makes Henderson even more intriguing is that he is still learning the wide receiver position. He played running back all his life prior to joining Louisiana Tech who moved him from running back to wide receiver. So as Henderson told the media during his introductory press conference, the more he plays, the “better and better” he gets.

“I’m still growing as a receiver. I’ve been working on everything, especially this offseason and the four years I’ve been at Louisiana Tech playing receiver. As I keep playing receiver, I’m progressively getting better and better.”

That experience at running back has helped him become a better wide receiver. He has that physical mindset that running backs have and Henderson says that helps him rip off those big plays that he routinely made this past season.

“I played running back my whole life. I just started playing receiver when I got to Louisiana Tech. I’ve just been playing receiver for four years, so that explains the run after the catch and everything. In this game, you’ve got to physical and you’ve got to be tough, otherwise you won’t last in this game of football. That’s why I’m physical and tough. I’m here to help the team in whatever way I can.

Now the Broncos hope that Henderson can step in and be their explosive slot receiver and give their offense a dynamic that they have been lacking for quite awhile. With Thomas and Sanders on the outside, Henderson should have plenty of room in the middle of the field to make some big plays for the Broncos offense.

The good:

Henderson is a playmaker who can take it to the house whenever he gets his hands on the ball. Whether that be as a receiver, as a running back, or as a returner, he can house it whenever. This trait will likely carry over to the NFL and make him a fan favorite very quickly(and likely a favorite for whoever the quarterback is).

As I said above, with attention on Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, Henderson(if he wins the slot receiver job) should have plenty of room to rip off some long gains like the one in the tweet below.

He uses his running back background to break tackles, avoid tackles, and just create after the catch. He also plays like a running back. He will lower his shoulder and go through a defender if he has too, otherwise he can just use his elusiveness to fly by them.

He is also an explosive and downhill kick returner who should slide into that role for the Broncos right away.

Henderson has been making a name for himself so far during the Broncos OTA practices.’s Andrew Mason shared a few notes on Henderson.

Rookie wide receiver Carlos Henderson elicited "oohs" from his teammates after making a sharp change of direction that sent a defender sliding to the ground following a reception from Siemian. Henderson was running from right to left when he caught the ball, and then stopped and cut back to his right, leaving a sprawling defender and plenty of open field to proceed with the football.

Henderson had another big moment in practice when he caught a deep ball for quarterback Trevor Siemian.

.. Henderson punctuated the day with a dazzling touchdown catch from Trevor Siemian that saw him work his way into space between two defenders near the goal line. Siemian uncorked a deep pass, and as Henderson found a gap, he turned and adjusted to the ball. He smoothly hauled it in and tumbled into the end zone for a score that elicited whoops and hollers from the offense.

Henderson will have to continue making plays like this during this week’s Minicamp practices, into Training Camp, and through the preseason if he wants to lock down the Broncos number three wide receiver spot.

The bad:

There isn’t a ton of bad on Henderson right now. He is an exciting young rookie who has a ton of potential, but he does have some concerns.

First off, his lack of experience at receiver might be an issue early on. His route running, footwork and all the technical stuff will need to be improved and/or refined. He really relies on his plus athleticism too much, but once he gets his technique and such down, watch out! This isn’t a huge issue in my eyes and I have faith that he can learn the tricks of the trade from wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert.

This is also another minor concern, but anytime you see a “smaller” player play bigger and more physical than you expect, you have to have some concern about injuries. He might have been able to get away with it in college, but the players are bigger, faster, and much stronger in the NFL. So I am interested to see how his physical play style holds up in the NFL.


Carlos Henderson on learning from veterans Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.

“To be under those guys is an honor. I watch those guys at practice. They push me to go harder and harder every day. To watch those guys is great. It’s a great experience. Watching them makes me want to push harder and harder on what I have to do every day.”


Roster Status:

He’s obviously a lock for a roster spot, but his exact role is yet to be determined.

I believe he will be the starting kick returner for the Broncos right away but will have to earn the third wide receiver job. He’ll be facing Bennie Fowler, Cody Latimer, Jordan Taylor, fellow rookie Isaiah McKenzie and others for snaps.

I am on the Carlos Henderson bandwagon so I think he will lock up the job during the preseason and have a productive year for the Broncos. Depending on how the quarterback play is, I think Henderson could be in the conversation for the rookie offensive player of the year award at season's end.