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2020 Draft Profile: Scouting Florida cornerback C.J. Henderson

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Could the ball-hawking corner make sense for the Broncos in the first-round?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 05 Auburn at Florida Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

One prospect who may interest the Denver Broncos in the first-round of the 2020 NFL Draft is the ball-hawking corner from Florida, C.J. Henderson. He is a 6’1”, 204 pound cornerback who is considered one of the best cornerbacks in the entire draft. Henderson is ranked as the third-best cornerback in the 2020 NFL Draft according to The Draft Network and is ranked as the 20th best prospect in the entire draft.

Henderson played a total of three-seasons at Florida and turned into one of the better cornerbacks in the nation during that time. During his three-year career at Florida, Henderson totaled 93 tackles, 8 tackles for a loss, 4 sacks, 6 interceptions, 20 pass deflections, 2 defensive touchdowns, and 2 forced fumbles. This past season, Henderson totaled 33 tackles, 3 tackles for a loss, and 11 pass deflections.

Here are C.J. Henderson’s 2019 accolades while playing at Florida this past season.

Appeared and started in nine games for the Gators, collecting 32 tackles (25 solo), 2.0 tackles for loss (6 yds.), one sack for nine yards and 11 pass breakups. Tied his career high of eight tackles (1 solo) at South Carolina. He missed games against Kentucky, Tennessee and Towson due to injury. Henderson was named to the Preseason First Team All-SEC and the Coaches’ All-SEC First Team in addition to being a Paycom Jim Thorpe Award and Lombardi semifinalist.

Henderson announced that he declared for the 2020 NFL Draft where he is expected to be a first-round selection. He also was invited to participate at the NFL Scouting Combine which he did and put up some impressive numbers while working out.

C.J. Henderson

Cornerback | Florida | Junior

Height: 6’1” | Weight: 204 pounds | 40-time: 4.39 seconds

Arm Length: 31 5/8” | Hands: 9”

Bench Press: 20 reps | Vertical Jump: 37 inches | Broad Jump: 127.0 inches

Film Room

Scouting Report

Strengths

  • An explosive athlete
  • Good speed to keep up with the fastest receivers
  • Has that extra gear and makeup speed to use if he’s beaten
  • Smooth athlete with loose hips
  • Changes direction very well
  • Physical at the line of scrimmage as a press corner
  • A bit of a ballhawk who will come his man and jump a pass if he can
  • Good balls skills and is dangerous if the ball is in his hands
  • He’s a bit scrappy and doesn’t always shy away from contact with receivers
  • Shows good intelligence in reading what the offense is doing
  • Doesn’t look lost out there and his football IQ stands out when watching him
  • He mirrors receivers well and doesn’t get beat very often
  • A scheme diverse corner who can play man or zone
  • Was an effective blitzer when asked to do it which is something historically asks his corners to do
  • Has all the skills you look for in a potential Pro Bowl corner

Weaknesses

  • While he is a willing tackler and a scrappy player, he isn’t know for his tackling skills
  • Very good cover corner but the tackling needs to improve. He has shown he can do it but there are lapses a handful of times a game
  • Isn’t always eager to get involved in run defense
  • Doesn’t shed blocks very well in run defense either
  • Will need to cut back a little bit on the risks and route jumping as that will be taken advantage of in the NFL

What other analysts are saying about C.J. Henderson

NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah on Florida cornerback, C.J. Henderson

Henderson is an extremely explosive and athletic cornerback prospect out of Florida. He played outside and inside on the games I studied. He is very physical in press coverage, landing a two-hand jam consistently. He is extremely loose and fluid to open up and mirror all over the field. He’s hardly ever out of position and possesses rare makeup speed when he is caught in a bind. You see that same burst when he’s in off coverage and the ball is thrown in front. He does need to improve on finding the ball down the field, as he’s often a little late to look back. The major concern with this player is tackling. He has way too many misses and that must be improved. Overall, Henderson has some elite traits and could emerge as the top cornerback in this class, but his tackling must be addressed.

The Draft Network’s Kyle Crabbs on Florida cornerback, C.J. Henderson

CJ Henderson projects as a starting cornerback at the NFL level. Henderson’s length, ball skills, fluid hips and route recognition give him the ceiling of a Pro Bowl outside cornerback, although he will need to be more selective with some of his aggressive plays in coverage and be more attentive to securing tackles if he is to reach his ceiling. Henderson is ultra sticky at the catch point and his skills are best implemented in press man coverage at the next level.

The Athletic’s Dane Brugler on Florida cornerback C.J. Henderson

A three-year starter at Florida, Henderson was the boundary corner in defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s versatile 3-4 scheme, playing both man and zone coverages. He didn’t record an interception as a junior, but he was targeted only 4.2 times per game in 2019 as teams looked to throw away from him (Grantham: “He’s the best corner I’ve ever coached”). A finely tuned athlete, Henderson often does everything right for the first 90% of the play with coordinated movements to blanket routes, but his catch point skills are immature, leading to early contact and inconsistent plays on the ball. While he has a quick trigger to drive on plays in front of him, his break down and finishing skills are not currently strengths to his game. Overall, Henderson needs to become a better tackler and playmaker at the catch point, but his athletic traits, length and mindset are why he is one of the best press-man prospects in the 2020 draft class, projecting as a rookie starter.

Cornerback C.J. Henderson’s RAS score

Does Florida cornerback C.J. Henderson make sense for the Denver Broncos in the first-round of the 2020 NFL Draft?

It’s really up Head Coach Vic Fangio.

Henderson is a terrific cover corner who has all the skills to be very good in the NFL. However, Fangio in his introductory press conference as a Head Coach, he stated that his cornerbacks will need to tackle on his team. This is an area of the game that Henderson struggles at. So, will this weakness keep the Broncos from considering Henderson?

Well, again, that is up to Vic Fangio.

Henderson has all the potential to be a very good coverage corner with ball-hawking skills. He just might offer little in run defense. Now, he has shown to be a scrappy and willing tackler at times, but again, it’s not his game. I am not super keen on the idea of not considering a corner with his potential and talent just because he isn’t a tackler, but it might be the case. I’m a big fan of Henderson’s and at the end of the day, he probably isn’t the best scheme fit. Fangio knows what he wants and his track record speaks for itself.

If a receiver isn’t there for the Broncos at 15, I fully expect them to address the cornerback position. You have an opening there and you face Patrick Mahomes and dangerous Chiefs offense at least twice a year. In a likelihood, the road to the Super Bowl will go through Arrowhead for the next decade so having a secondary who can at least try to slow them down is key. Henderson has the speed, potential and ball-hawking ability to help in that area. So, I would be a fan of the pick.

What do you think Broncos Country?

Poll

Would you like it if the Broncos drafted C.J. Henderson in the first-round of the 2020 NFL Draft

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    YES! - Can’t have enough corner
    (76 votes)
  • 50%
    Yes, but only if the top 3 wide receiver’s are gone
    (269 votes)
  • 19%
    Nope
    (103 votes)
  • 7%
    OFFENSIVE LINE OR BUST! OFFENSIVE LINE OR BUST! OFFENSIVE LINE OR BUST!!!!!
    (41 votes)
  • 7%
    I just want Henry Ruggs III, okay?
    (40 votes)
529 votes total Vote Now