NFL Hot Press: Henderson Could go Top 10

Henderson Could go Top 10

Updated March 31, 2020
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

Every year in the NFL draft, there are some late-rising prospects who climb up draft boards and end up going higher than where they were projected for the majority of the draft process. One prospect who could be enjoying that climb this year is Florida cornerback C.J. Henderson. After a stellar performance at the NFL Scouting Combine, sources from five different teams say that Henderson could be a top-10 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, and multiple team sources feel he could end up being a better cover corner than Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah, the consensus top cornerback for the 2020 NFL Draft and a projected top-five pick.

“[Henderson] is the best pure cover corner in the draft,” said one director of college scouting. And that comment was echoed by others. Here’s a what another director of college scouting said:

    “Yes, he could be a top-10 pick and better cover corner than Okudah. [Henderson] is a better mover than Okudah, who is overrated. Okudah hasn’t gone and made many plays the last two years when you study it hard. He’s a better tackler than C.J., but I’d take Henderson. Okudah’s character is so clean that people feel so comfortable with him. C.J. isn’t bad; he’s just extremely quiet.”

The 6-foot-1, 204-pound Henderson ran an amazing 40 at the combine of 4.39 seconds and looked superb in the field drills, showing smooth athleticism for the next level. Henderson has had to overcome some concerns from his junior year tape, where he showed poor tackling, a lack of physicality, and some soft coverage after suffering a knee injury early in the year. Here’s what one national scout said about Henderson and his 2019 performance:

    “C.J. is one of the most gifted athletic cover guys I have seen in a long time. Thought he was slam dunk top-five pick heading into the year. He had a bad year for him, but all the athletic tools are there for top-level player. Competitiveness, finish and passion were questions you had after this year’s tape. But I did not have those concerns in years prior. Most teams will bet on that they can get the player from 2017 and 2018 because all the hard to find physical tools, he possesses at a high level.”

There are potential landing spots for Henderson to be top-10 pick, including the Cardinals and Jaguars. Arizona could use a long-term No. 1 cornerback to be the successor to Patrick Peterson, and Jacksonville needs a replacement for Jalen Ramsey. Henderson being a very quiet kid could be appealing after the Jaguars dealt with the loquacious Ramsey. If Henderson doesn’t go as a top-10 selection, teams think he won’t last much longer because he is rising across the league.