20 Sep 2020

Home of the NFL Offseason

John Hates Good Football Players 101: CB CJ Henderson, Florida

This has turned into quite a bit of fun, guys. I appreciate you all laying into me on Twitter and letting me hear from you all in regards to what players I apparently hate.

In fact, I’ve heard this SO MUCH from you guys that I couldn’t pick who I hated next, so I turned to you all and made a poll. You guys told me who you wanted to see next in this Twitter poll that I ran for an hour and a half on Saturday afternoon.

Are you all just so desperate for football that 118 of you all will vote on a poll about who I hate? Or rather, is it that you secretly hope and desire that I have nothing better to do then write about my hatred for good football players? I’m both shocked and delighted.

In case you have missed the other two pieces, I’ve linked them right here for your enjoyment.

WR Tee Higgins
DL Justin Madibuike

Some of the comments were just delightful. I really never believed I would be accepting hate mail as motivation for my pieces. You all are animals. Here are a couple of my favorites.

I’m sorry, coach, but the Tyler Johnson article will have to wait.

So here we are with the latest piece of the John Hates Good Football Players 101, an apparent staple to my new brand of football coverage. Certainly not what I envisioned seeing happen, but regardless, it’s 2020, anything can happen apparently.

My sarcastic rant is now over. Let’s get to business.

I’m not a big fan of CJ Henderson. I currently have him ranked as my 8th cornerback in this class and a low impact player – Someone who will impact more in year two and beyond, but still offer value in his rookie season. There are a few things about Henderson that I really like. So, as usual, let’s start with the positives.

What I like about CJ Henderson

If you want to discuss sticky coverage skills, look no further than CJ Henderson. The man can play both zone and man coverage very well, and he’s smart. He stays with people. A very fluid athlete, it takes a real technician to knock him off. Even then – good luck.

If you watch his tape, you will notice that he’s a bit more of a trail cornerback type. Trail technique is sitting in a position waiting for the quarterback to make a throw in your direction. It requires a very smart and alert player to accomplish effectively, as you have to constantly position yourself and be ready for the throw. A quarterback who isn’t careful with the football can make a careless throw in that direction.

Henderson is an excellent athlete, not just with being fluid and quick. He ran a sub 4.4 forty yard dash at the combine, and that’s not his “pro day video.” That’s real life. His twenty bench press reps showed that he’s strong in his upper body too.

He’s got great ball skills. You will see him make excellent plays on the ball either to break up a throw or make a crazy interception. His ball skills are very natural and he does an excellent job tracking it.

What I don’t like about Henderson

What do I really abhor? The tackling is frustrating to watch on tape. Honestly, I don’t think it’s just tackling, it’s plain contact in general. The Miami game was very bad about this, even on the “tackles” that he made, his effort was lackadaisical.

Even his press coverage, he generally stays hands off. I know that he see’s success doing that sometimes, but golly, man, disrupt the route in press coverage!

Regardless, most cornerbacks in todays modern NFL have to be able to be boundary tacklers in space. With all of the elements of the RPO, screens and outside runs, corners on the outside are often the last line of defense for a big play. If Henderson can’t show solidity on the outside, NFL teams are going to target him often and leave him as the man who will have to make the tackle.

I think that he will get burned by his trail technique by simply not being alert sometimes. He will misjudge the speed of someone and fall out of position on a play. Emanuel Hall burned him in his sophomore year for the biggest game of his career – Hall’s struggling to get off of a practice squad.

Theoretically, Henderson is fast and agile enough to cover just about any receiver in the NFL. That still doesn’t explain his 54.9% completion percentage that he allowed on targets to receivers he was covering in 2019. That’s among the highest percentages allowed in the 2019 class.

In Conclusion

Henderson has a lot of tools that will make him a valuable cover cornerback for several years in the league. I think he’s going to be pretty good, too. However, I don’t see Henderson ever becoming a #1 cornerback for a team. I don’t see him being the impacting corner that Jeff Okudah will be in year one. I think he’s a good full season away from really starting to impact the game at the NFL level.

Because of the tackling issues, and not being able to make him my top cornerback, I wouldn’t take him before several guys in this class. I would be too worried that teams would attack my perimeter with him over there, and that I wouldn’t be able to leave him on an island.

If I could do that, I’d probably be as high on him as the rest of you.

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