Carlos Henderson finally burst onto the scene this past season. Each year in the NFL it seems an “undersized” small school wide receiver carves out an integral role for a team. They’re often overlooked for a number of reasons. The lack of competition usually being the main one followed by a physical appearance that doesn’t quite shout WR1 at the next level. It’s okay for teams to overlook those traits and shoot for more of a complementary, scheme driven player. One name that comes to mind is Antonio Brown who didn’t possess the common WR1 body type or other WR1 attributes. He carved out a role with the Steelers as a complimentary piece and happened to be a very exceptional return threat. Because of his hard work and contributions on special teams, he was given more opportunities to showcase just exactly the type of player he is. I think the same can be expected for Carlos Henderson. Not necessarily to the same extent that which Brown did it but with a very similar path.
WR: Carlos Henderson
5’11” 191 lbs
Henderson was a 3-star recruit out of New Orleans and ranked as the 50th overall athlete and 602nd recruit nationally per 247sports.com. During Henderson’s senior season in which he managed to be a 4A All-State WR he received 3 offers from big schools such as Utah, Illinois, and Arizona State. He originally committed to Utah in October of 2012 then switched to LA Tech on February, 5th, 2013.
When Henderson arrived at LA Tech he immediately assumed the kick returner duties and did a very good job, racking up 826 yards with a 25-yard average. He finished his career with 2,094 return yards for a 26.5 average and 3 TDs. Henderson never accumulated more than 36 receptions until his junior season. As a sophomore, he did average 21.5 yards per catch which ranked second amongst receivers with 35+ receptions. In his first two seasons, he had 4 100+ yard games and managed to get 6 his junior season. What’s even more impressive is 3 of those games included yardage totals of 202, 232, and 326. One of those being a 5 touchdown performance. Henderson totaled 147 receptions, 2,878 yards, 19.6 avg, and 28 receiving TDs in his career. He also finished 1st in touchdowns this season with 19 and 5th in yards at 1,535.
I was fortunate to come across Henderson last year when scouting former Louisiana Tech running back Kenneth Dixon. Long story short, I was compiling some stats and noticed Henderson was second on the list in yards per reception amongst the receivers with 35+ receptions so I started to find everything I could on him. More often than not he was the most impressive player on the field and the first thing I noticed was his ability in the return game. Henderson had a very impressive year and I’m interested to see the type of role he plays in the NFL.
Henderson has a decent build. He’s a smaller receiver but he’s not thin or fragile. He has a strong lower body that allows him to make sudden cuts and have a quick release off the line of scrimmage. Has enough functional strength to burst through tacklers. Henderson uses his hands well enough to help him beat press coverage. His vision and decision making with the ball in his hands is above average. Has good ball skills and body control which helps him make the right adjustments on the ball. He has above average tracking ability and shields defenders well when the ball is in the air. Natural Hand catching and good concentration. Henderson looks quick and on tape he is a real threat over the top. With that being said, he seems to win with his release and not pure speed because he looks more like a high 4.4 low 4.5 40 guy. Henderson has very good feet and his hips allow him to change direction and dip out of his routes without losing much speed. He has an average ability to create separation on intermediate routes. Identifies zones and coverage well and knows where to sit on a route. Henderson has strong hands and the ability to go and get the ball. He can get behind a defense but also weave through traffic to beat a defense. He has average athleticism and I don’t think he will blow up the combine if invited but he should be in the middle of the pack in a lot of tests.
Tale of the Tape:
I really like the different ways an offense can use Henderson. He is able to win in a lot of the same ways as John Ross. He’s not as fast or as quick as Ross but he’s still able to haul in a ton of explosive plays. I haven’t fully charted his plays because there isn’t enough tape out there for me to do so but here are a few examples of Henderson winning deep.
On this play, Henderson beats his man and the QB throws a very good ball that gets there before the safety help does allow Henderson to break a tackle and score.
Another play where Henderson has his man beat deep but the ball is slightly underthrown so he has to gear down, adjust and use a subtle push off to make a clean catch and score. He didn’t have a full extension with his arm so that’s probably why the ref let it slide.
Now I’ll highlight a few plays that show Henderson is more than just a deep threat. Henderson shows his strong hands and body control on this play and makes the catch look very simple while still getting his feet down.
Here Henderson displays a little bit of his suddenness and ability to make defenders miss.
Henderson has a knack for taking swing passes and bubble screens for huge chunk plays.
Henderson runs a simple route but finds the hole in the zone here then makes a few guys miss for another explosive run after the catch.
I think the biggest knock against Henderson will be the type of offense he played in which has inflated numbers for quite a few players. He only faced five Power 5 teams during his time at Louisiana Tech. While quick, I still don’t think he has elite agility or elite speed. He ran a limited route tree and needs refinement in that area. Have not seen him consistently win contested balls. Henderson might be limited to a schematic role when he first enters the league. He’s not a very good blocker in the run game and I believe that is largely due to an unwillingness to block. He’s not super explosive but he has enough to make a team happy. Henderson will need to fall into the perfect spot to have an immediate impact in the NFL.
Henderson is elusive and sudden enough to make guys miss at the next level. He has good tracking skills and a good feel for how to shield defenders which will help him win deep. His versatility will be a big value for him when being evaluated by teams. His size might limit him to a slot role but he has the hands and quickness to win there. I personally think he goes in the 3rd to 4th round range in the draft. More likely an early day 3 guy though based off his size and only 1 year of legit production in college. He’s definitely a guy to keep an eye on throughout the draft process.