2020 NFL Draft Scouting Report

C.J. Henderson

July 20, 2019 1:00 AM EST

Grant Delpit Scouting Report picture

School: Florida

Height: 6'1"

Weight: 191

Eligibility: JR

Uniform: #1

Position: CB

Evaluated by: Austin Smith
July 20, 2019

Prospect Overview

Scouting corners can be one of the tougher tasks for a scout. Teams run different coverages that aren't always beneficial to the player's strengths. Opposing offenses can avoid a player making the sample size all that less reliable. Receivers come in so many different packages now, and all have their special skillsets that offenses exploit. Even the rules are stacked against corners. Still, it was fun watching Henderson's tape. He burst onto the scene as a freshman, collecting four interceptions and returning a pair of them for touchdowns. That garnered him mention on numerous preseason awards lists, and he did not disappoint.

CJ Henderson Scouting Report image 1

I wouldn't say quarterbacks avoided his side of the field, but he was certainly tested less as a sophomore, and his interception total was cut in half. Still, Henderson managed to tally 38 tackles with five of which coming behind the line of scrimmage, after not recording any tackles for loss as a freshman. Henderson also picked up the first three sacks of his career in 2018, and overall was one of Florida's most consistent defenders. His first two years of production have many predicting he will be one of the top defensive backs in the 2020 class, should he choose to declare. With that being said, I can't wait to see what Henderson has in store for this season.


First and foremost, Henderson plays with outstanding body control. He's calm, collected and balanced, and when you pair that with his quick feet, it makes for minimal steps when getting in and out of breaks. It also helps Henderson transition smoothly when he flips his hips, and he rarely ends up chasing his opponent. I'm not saying that Henderson doesn't get beat, but his balance and footwork aid him in recovering so that he can make a play on the receiver when he can't make a play on the ball. Henderson also appears to play with outstanding instincts. He does a good job of judging the receiver's release, and never seems to be out of position. Henderson also has a feel for routes. There are times where you see him positioning himself before the receiver has even started to breakdown, and the most common examples were on in-breaking routes.

CJ Henderson Scouting Report image 2

The instincts help him in zone coverage as well. In fact, Henderson might be at his most dangerous when he gets a chance to read the quarterback's eyes. He reacts quickly and takes very good angles. Henderson plays in man more often at Florida, but if a team that primarily runs zone coverage drafts him, he will have no trouble adapting to that scheme based on what I've seen. Those instincts also show up in the instances when he's been lined up on the non-receiver side of a set. Henderson reads the keys in front of him, similar to a strong safety or linebacker and while he may not be an enforcer, he is a willing tackler. Also, as a tackler, Henderson once again positions himself well. He has a keen grasp of angles and puts himself in the proper position based on his responsibilities.

Henderson has only intercepted six balls in his career, but I get the feeling he has very good ball skills. He made an outstanding interception early in the season cutting across the receiver’s body on an underthrown ball, and there are a number of instances where he extends a single hand to knock a pass away perfectly. Finally, the guy is a competitor. Henderson isn't afraid to get in a receiver's head, and his effort matches his intensity. He chases plays down the field and saved touchdowns on several occasions. Henderson also fights for the ball when the receiver has initially caught it. He punches at his hands and does his best to rip it away, and this too has taken points off the board for Florida.

Areas for Improvement

The biggest area I'd like to see him improve is at the line of scrimmage. They list Henderson at six feet, one inch, but I have my questions about that. Even if those measurements are accurate, I wouldn't say he has great arm length either. What he does have, are big, strong hands, and that can help him be physical with his press. If Henderson can get stronger with his punch, and position it properly, he can be a guy that has success pressing receivers. With as good as his balance is, I struggle to find a reason he can't improve in this area if he commits himself to it.

CJ Henderson Scouting Report image 3

I'd also like to see him get off blocks better. Once again, strong, well-placed hands can aid in this department. Outside of that, my biggest questions revolve around his overall athleticism. Don't get me wrong, he is more than adequate in this area, but I'm not sure if he will have elite quickness or straight-line speed. Emanuel Hall gave him some issues when he got a free release, but Henderson was able to stay with him enough to jar one ball loose to force an incompletion while tackling him immediately after a catch on the other. Still, watching him run down Deebo Samuel was impressive and considering he runs a sub-4.5 forty-yard dash, I don't think this will be a major issue for him.

Draft Stock

A lot of scouts have labeled him the top-eligible cornerback for the 2020 class, but unlike most prospects, the ability to prove that won't solely rest with Henderson. If quarterbacks come after him, he will have ample opportunities to show that he belongs in that conversation. However, if quarterbacks avoid Henderson, his workouts could become more vital to earning a top-tier grade, and as I mentioned, there could be questions there. Still, if Henderson continues to have the kind of all-around impact he did as a sophomore, it's going to make him a desirable prospect. The last time we saw him was against Michigan where he had eight tackles, 1.5 for loss and a sack in the Peach Bowl. That's an impressive stat line for a corner, and it's inspiring to know he can make an impact, even if quarterbacks don't test him. He's got a rather quiet demeanor away from the field, but he leads by example. Henderson was recruited both as a corner and running back, and he has worked hard to learn the finer points of playing one of the toughest positions on the field. He may get chatty with receivers, but he doesn't let his emotions get the best of him. With another strong showing this season, I expect Henderson to have a solid first-round grade, and if he can ease concerns about his athleticism, he could be a candidate for the top 10.

Player Comparison

This is a tough one because I don't see a player that truly reminds me of Henderson. I'm going to throw Aqib Talib's name out for one reason. Talib has never been the elite, quick-twitch athlete that you covet at corner. Still, he's a very good athlete, and his instincts and vision help bridge the gap. Henderson is very similar in that area. The one thing Talib has that Henderson doesn't is the ability to be disruptive at the line of scrimmage. Still, I do believe Henderson has the tools to improve in that area.

Games Evaluated

vs. Colorado State (9-15-18)
vs. Tennessee (9-22-18)
vs. Mississippi State (9-29-18)
vs. LSU (10-6-18)
vs. Vanderbilt (10-13-18)
vs. Georgia (10-27-18)
vs. Missouri (11-3-18)
vs. South Carolina (11-10-18)
vs. Florida State (11-24-18)
vs. Michigan (12-29-18)

Notes from Film

  • The first thing that came to mind when watching Henderson are that he always seems to be under control. In fact, it was a bit difficult to gage his speed because he rarely gets up to full acceleration. I’m not saying he doesn’t play at full speed. He just rarely needs to because of his positioning and balance.
  • He sees the game well. Good example of the second was a screen in which Colorado State to his side. Not only did he recognize it well before the ball was thrown, but he handled his responsibility. He squeezed the play as best he could while keeping his outside containment. The running back was forced to cut it inside where his help was, but even then, Henderson was able to disengage with the offensive lineman and get in on the play.
  • Haven’t seen him press much. He does lineup near the line of scrimmage on plenty of occasions but just doesn’t use his hands often. Once again, it’s not a bad thing because he positions himself well and takes away the same releases his press would negate, but with his size and length, it seems like this is something he would accel in if he worked at it.
  • Wouldn’t go so far as to call him a great tackler, but he does appear to be willing. Did a heck of a job in the Missouri game stepping up and making a form tackle for a minimal gain on a running back that tried to bounce it outside
  • Has a good feel for timing the blitz, and knows how to duck his shoulder and turn the corner. I remembered that they liked to use him on the blitz after watching him last year. The one question I have is, can he be just as successful when he is accounted for in the protection? Every sack I've seen, the protection has been surprised by him coming and hasn't been in great position to pick him up. That won't always be the case in the NFL. I'd like to see if his success goes beyond him getting a free run at the quarterback before labeling him a dangerous player on the blitz.
  • His footwork is very good, but I don’t think he has that quick-twitch athleticism or change-of-direction ability like I Denzel Ward a few years ago. Still, because of his instincts and length, he minimizes separation in routes and could garner a similar draft grade.
  • If he isn’t in position to make a play on the pass, he shows a keen ability for locating the receiver’s hands and trying to punch the ball out when it’s initially caught.
  • I was a little disappointed to see him get hurt early in the Georgia game. With Riley Ridley’s ability to run routes, Jeremiah Holloman’s size, Mecole Hardman's speed, and Terry Godley's short-area quickness, he was bound to be tested in a variety of ways against some of the best receivers he's faced all season long. I certainly don't blame the guy for getting hurt. I just got my hopes up because that was going to be his biggest challenge of the season.
  • After watching him run down Deebo Samuel, I have fewer questions about his long speed. Still, there were a few snaps where Emanuel Hall blew by him with a clean release. On those snaps, Henderson did keep himself within range to be able to make a play immediately after the catch and was able to jar the ball loose on one of them. So, the speed is certainly good enough considering Hall was one of the fastest players in college football. Still, this is where being more physical early in the route could help him. If the receiver can’t get to full speed, his speed will never be an issue.
  • Can’t say it enough. He consistently plays with great balance, and considering how important that is when hips have to be ready to do anything in coverage, it's a standout trait that is going to make him a good pro. It's a testament to his feet, his core strength, and quite honestly is instincts. The guy is always putting himself in good position, and because of that, he never gets flustered. That panic could certainly affect his balance, but he never does. He plays as calm as anyone I’ve evaluated in a while.
  • I'm not exactly fond of some of the positions Florida puts him in. During the latter portion of the season, they started lining him up on the tight end side of the twins sets. This is their best cover guy, and he is on the side of the field with no receiver. Having said that, he occasionally flashes the ability to fill or pursue like a strong safety would. Guys like Charles Woodson and Malcolm Jenkins made transitions to a similar position later in their careers when the athleticism they possessed was no longer where it needed to be to stay at corner. I’m not saying that’s the case with Henderson, but I could certainly see him making a similar transition to prolong his playing days in the NFL with the experience he is picking up in this role.
  • Ended the game with an interception in zone coverage against South Carolina, and it’s not the first time I’ve seen him make a play in zone. Once again, I think his instincts are a big reason why. When he sees a bigger picture of what’s going on in the play, he excels. I’m not saying that I’m more comfortable with him in zone than I am man coverage because he has the traits to be really good in man. I just think he could honestly be a star in either.
  • Also appears to have very good ball skills.
  • Love his determination to finish plays. I mentioned him chasing down Deebo Samuel. He did the same earlier in the season when he caught up to the tight end from Tennessee just before the goal line. The player ended up fumbling the football out of the back of the end zone, saving a touchdown. In the Peach Bowl against Michigan, he continuously fought to knock the ball from a receiver's hands in the end zone. He was successful enough that the receiver couldn't hold onto the ball when he hit the ground, another touchdown-saving effort.
  • Michigan tape was his best of the year. It wasn’t perfect, but he was all over the field.

    Scouting Video Courtesy of ZaayDot

  • Scouting Reports Link
    Tua Tagovailoa Link
    Jeffrey Okudah Link
    Albert Okbuegbunam Link
    Tee Higgins Link
    Jalen Hurts Link
    Austin Jackson Link
    Curtis Weaver Link
    Javon Kinlaw Link
    Derrick Brown Link
    Tyler Biadasz Link
    D'Andre Swift Link
    Shaquille Quarterman Link
    Isaiah Simmons Link
    Travis Etienne Link
    C.J. Henderson Link
    Grant Delpit Link
    Tristan Wirfs Link
    Andrew Thomas Link
    Walker Little Link
    A.J Epenesa Link
    Chase Young Link
    Jerry Jeudy Link
    CeeDee Lamb Link
    Kyler Murray Link
    Nick Bosa Link
    Clelin Ferrell Link
    Jawaan Taylor Link
    T.J. Hockenson Link
    Noah Fant Link
    Andre Dillard Link
    Nasir Adderley Link
    Dexter Lawrence Link
    Rashan Gary Link
    Damien Harris Link
    Rodney Anderson Link
    Marquise Brown Link
    D. K. Metcalf Link
    Dwayne Haskins Link
    Deionte Thompson Link
    Jachai Polite Link
    Greedy Williams Link
    Jarrett Stidham Link
    Drew Lock Link
    Justin Herbert Link
    Trey Adams Link
    Mike McGlinchey Link
    Isaiah Wynn Link
    Quenton Nelson Link
    Troy Fumagalli Link
    Orlando Brown Jr. Link
    Mark Andrews Link
    Mike Gesicki Link
    Martinas Rankin Link
    Braden Smith Link
    Antonio Callaway Link
    Christian Kirk Link
    James Washington Link
    Calvin Ridley Link
    Nick Chubb Link
    Bo Scarbrough Link
    Derrius Guice Link
    Saquon Barkley Link
    Mason Rudolph Link
    Josh Allen Link
    Josh Rosen Link
    Sam Darnold Link