Background: Henderson played primarily running back at Columbus High School (FL), notching 636 rushing yards combined during his final two seasons on the varsity level. He received offers from multiple Power 5 schools to play running back, but after an injury plagued senior season, his body couldn’t withstand the asking of playing in the backfield any longer. As a result, he transitioned to cornerback, where he began to have lots of success.
The player that he grew up idolizing was former Gator Joe Haden and he’s the reason behind choosing Florida and donning the famous No. 5 jersey number prior too his junior season. His career got off to a fast start as he started in five of the 11 games that he participated in during his true freshman season. Quickly making a name for himself, he intercepted passes in back-to-back games – becoming the first true freshman in program history to do so. Returning both passes for touchdowns, he’s also the only true freshman since 1996 to record pick-sixes in consecutive weeks. His four interceptions were tied for the most among the team.
Building off of an impressive 2017 campaign, he continued his success as a true sophomore. Turning himself into a staple of the Gators secondary. Accumulating 38 tackles and two interceptions, he became a second-team All-SEC selection. Henderson was awarded with wearing the illustrious No. 1 jersey number, which hadn’t been worn since Vernon Hargreaves III in 2015.
During his final season, Henderson started in all nine games that he participated in. He battled an ankle injury that he suffered during the second game of the year. During that span, he collected 33 tackles and 11 pass breakups, which led to him becoming a first-team All-SEC selection. Lito Sheppard (2002), Joe Haden (2010), and Vernon Hargreaves III (2016) are the latest Florida cornerbacks to become first-round selections. Henderson is vying to become the next in line.
Scheme Fit: Man
Round Projection: Mid-Late 1st-Round
Length: Henderson primarily played in an off-ball positioning pre-snap. He possesses arms that are like vines. They are long and lanky frame throughout. Even though his body may not be in proper positions, his arm length and reach enable almost absolute possibilities to make plays on the ball. His arm extensions smother throwing windows and make it hard for throwers to fit balls into them consistently.
Click-Close Violence: He’s able to attack back downhill once passes are caught in front of him. Henderson is prone to drive down stems aggressively by showing well above average burst and acceleration in order to make tackles. In the short-to-intermediate areas, his awareness and understanding of angles are high. He frequently baits throwers into attempts while still maintaining the measured distance in order to impact plays.
Ball Skills: Henderson catches the ball comfortably almost as if he’s a receiver. He has examples of interceptions at all different area levels. The former Gator defender shows that he can attack the ball out of the air, while also scooping it out of lower areas, which is an added incentive that takes his game to another level because of it.
Disengaging/Slight Build: When wideouts were able to get their hands inside of his chest while run blocking, Henderson struggled to disengage while attempting to get off blocks. His lack of strength was evident and there are plays where he was forced to the sideline, which allowed rushers to secure the edge for explosive plays. A body that’s far from filled out, his lack of strength and mass shows up in certain parts of his game. Continuing to add weight should be seen as a top priority, otherwise, physical receivers who aren’t afraid to get handsy with him could potentially have their way with Henderson during route stems and when competing during run plays.
Press Technique: His pre-snap stance involves only a slight amount of knee bend. The type of technique that Henderson attempts to execute puts a lot of stress on his consistency of being able to collision wideouts a few moments into routes. He relies heavily on collisions in order to delay route timing and knock targets off of their intended track. Henderson also plays high and his eyes often get caught looking back at the quarterback prematurely as he loses sight of targets.
Tackling Effort: As a junior, his tendencies were completely flipped as a tackler. After showing plenty of interest in the physical portions of the game during his first two seasons, he looked completely disinterested in tackling in 2019. “An embarrassing display as a tackler” is a quote that was used by a respected scout to me to describe his Week 0 performance against Miami as a run defender, but another added “who cares? Can he cover? That’s all I needed to know” when asking about Henderson.
A starter of 27 games during his career with the Gators, Henderson is a highly talented cover corner. His wiry body and advanced technique help him become one of the better man cover corners in this draft class. For as many positives that he has, there are lots of mental lapses in his overall game and as a run defender. Henderson’s length, eye discipline, and savvy with playing the ball are among the tops in this class, but he must continue to add muscle mass and show a hint of interest as a run support player. Because of what he brings to the table from a coverage standpoint, he still has the makings of being a top-20 selection, but he won’t be for every team due to his negatives as a run defender.