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Broncos roster review: Rookie defensive lineman Matt Henningsen

With the lack of depth along the defensive line, the rookie Henningsen could end up having a rotational role with the defense this year.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 25 Shamrock Series - Notre Dame v Wisconsin Photo by Dan Sanger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With their 206th overall selection in the sixth round of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos selected Wisconsin defensive lineman, Matt Henningsen. He’s a 6’3”, 289-pound defensive lineman who is rather athletic for his size and will be fighting for a roster spot along the Broncos defensive line.

Henningsen played a total of four seasons at Wisconsin and was a consistent contributor for them on the defensive side of the ball. During his four seasons at Wisconsin, Henningsen totaled 92 tackles, 13.5 tackles for a loss, 8.5 sacks, 4 pass deflections, and 2 defensive touchdowns. This past season for the Badger's defense, Henningsen totaled 34 tackles, 6 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks, and 1 pass deflection.

After Dre’Mont Jones, the Broncos lack depth along the defensive end position. Veteran Shelby Harris went to Seattle in the Russell Wilson trade and McTelvin Agim hasn’t really lived up to expectations. After that, you have Jonathan Harris, 2021 seventh-round selection Marquiss Spencer, and fellow rookie Eyioma Uwazurike. Keep in mind, Agim and Harris were added by the previous regime(Elway/Fangio), and Spencer appears to be a longshot to make the team. So, Henningsen has a chance to earn himself a role along the Broncos' defensive line.

Player Profile

Matt Henningsen | Defensive Lineman | Rookie
Height: 6’3” | Weight: 289 pounds | 40-time: N/A
Arm Length: 33 inches | Hands: 9 3/8 inches
Vertical Jump: 37 inches | Broad Jump: 9’ 11” | Short Shuttle: 4.29 seconds
3-Cone: 7.19 seconds | Bench Press: 22 reps

Highlights

How does Matt Henningsen fit with the Broncos

When you’re a late-round pick like Henningsen, nothing is guaranteed. Sure, ideally he ends up being a rotational contributor along the defensive line, but he could end up playing like a sixth-round rookie and end up on the practice squad. However, I think Henningsen has a decent shot at having a role on defense for the Broncos.

You cannot teach athleticism and Henningsen has it. His explosiveness jumps out on tape and his 37-inch vertical at nearly 290 pounds also shows off his explosive traits. He has the potential to push the pocket and get after the passer while also being a solid run defender as well.

As I said earlier, the way the defensive line depth chart looks currently, Henningsen has a good shot at cracking the 53-man roster. After Dre’Mont Jones, it is all pretty much up in the air currently. Fellow rookie Eyioma Uwazurike looks to have a good shot at earning the other defensive end starting job, but the depth behind these two is iffy at best.

McTelvin Agim is on the roster bubble and was drafted by the former General Manager John Elway and Head Coach Vic Fangio. So, with George Paton and Nathaniel Hackett running the show, he could be the odd man out here. Also, Jonathan Harris was a Fangio addition as well, so both are potentially on the outs here. So, Henningsen who was drafted by Paton for Ejiro Evero’s defense figures to have a leg up on those two.

What other analysts are saying about Matt Henningsen

The Athletic’s draft analyst Dane Brugler’s take on Denver Broncos defensive end Matt Henningsen from his annual draft guide.

SUMMARY: Matt Henningsen earned First Team All-State honors on both the offensive and defensive lines at Menomonee Falls High. A two-star recruit, he received offers from several MAC and FCS programs, but his dream was to attend Wisconsin (like his parents and three older brothers) and he accepted a walk-on spot. He earned a scholarship a few weeks into the 2018 season and was a valuable part of the defensive line the last four years, playing end in the Badgers’ 3-4 base scheme. Henningsen, who was a member of Bruce Feldman’s Freak List, moves well laterally and uses his length to pry open gaps, but he is unpolished as a pass rusher and needs to play with better control once engaged. Scouts and coaches praise his intelligence (NFL scout: “This kid is like Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting.”). Overall, Henningsen’s on-field impact leaves you wanting more, but his blend of size, athleticism, and acumen is an easy sell in the later rounds or as a priority-free agent.

NFL.com’s draft analyst Lance Zierlein on Broncos defensive end Matt Henningsen

Face-up defender who fires off the ball with a rock ‘em, sock ‘em mentality that works for him and against him. Henningsen is a phone booth brawler lacking a dynamic playmaking skill set as a run defender or pass rusher. He offers a worthy challenge to the blocker in front of him, but he fails to play with much awareness for the play design at times. He’s not girthy enough to fit as a three-technique but possesses the traits and toughness to compete for a roster spot as a rotational 3-4 end.

Matt Henningsen’s RAS score

Final Thoughts

I like the Henningsen selection. The production was not great at Wisconsin but he has athleticism that you cannot teach and you should always roll the dice on these types of prospects in the late rounds.

Unless the Broncos add a veteran, I think Henningsen makes the 53-man roster as a rotational defensive lineman. He may not be active most weeks, but I think he makes the team unless the Broncos add a veteran before or after the final cuts are made.

Poll

Do you think rookie defensive end Matt Henningsen makes the 53-man roster?

This poll is closed

  • 81%
    Yes
    (443 votes)
  • 18%
    No
    (100 votes)
543 votes total Vote Now