Size: Henderson has fantastic size for an offensive tackle. He’s listed at 6’8”, 345 and he is very strong in the upper and lower body. He could stand to lose a little weight honestly because I think he had some conditioning issues as a junior, but he’s not lacking for raw size and strength.
Athleticism: Henderson is a good athlete for his size but I don’t think he’s a rare athlete as far as movement skills. Occasionally he will look heavy footed when he’s trying to get to a spot or get out in space, but he has good lateral movement and impressive quickness for such a large man. I wouldn’t call him a quick-twitch athlete, but he has enough quickness that he can react quickly and recover in pass protection. There are times where he is overmatched by a defender’s quickness though.
Technique: Henderson’s technique is solid, but it definitely has room to improve. One thing that really bothers me is how often he bends at the waist as a run blocker. He regularly does this and it really inhibits his ability to maintain his balance and therefore struggles to sustain his blocks. He ends up on the ground more than I would like as a result of this, but occasionally it will allow him to generate a pancake block so I think it reinforces that bad habit. He also needs to work on his hand placement both as a run blocker and in pass protection. He lets his hands get outside onto the shoulder pads too much and even on the back of the man he is blocking at times in the run game. That’s going to draw flags in the NFL and while it helps him control the guy he is blocking I don’t think he’s going to be able to get away with that as much at the next level. In general he does a good job of replacing his hands when they are slapped away and recovers well if he gets off balance. He has a good anchor, he just needs to make sure he plays with good leverage and pad level without bending at the waist. Additionally, he doesn’t have much of an initial punch despite his obvious raw power. He’d be more effective if he used a punch to shock defenders upon engaging them. He also needs work on his cut blocking technique, but he has demonstrated that he can do it at times.
Pass Protection: I was pleasantly surprised with Henderson’s ability in pass protection. He has impressive length, good lateral agility and he usually demonstrates quick, choppy steps in pass protection despite his size. He doesn’t always get the depth that I would like to see in his initial drop from his stance, but he has enough quickness to recover even if he doesn’t get ideal depth initially. He consistently showed the ability to recover even if it looked like he was beaten initially and despite having some questions about his hand placement he uses his length effectively and doesn’t often bend at the waist and overextend as a pass protector. I’m not sure how great his football IQ is, but he regularly did a good job handling twists, stunts and blitzes coming off the edge and rarely made mistakes in his assignments from what I could tell. There are times where he is too upright in pass protection and I want to see him bend at the knees, play with better pad level, and “sit down” and use his anchor to his advantage. There are times where he seems to be daring defenders to try to beat him off the edge as he doesn’t get much depth in his drop and then shows a quick burst to recover if they take the bait and try to speed rush him. It was very strange that he performed very well in pass protection against the likes of Notre Dame, North Carolina, Florida State and Virginia Tech (all of whom have at least one noteworthy pass rusher) but struggled against Virginia, particularly against Ausar Walcott who I had never heard of before this game (as a senior Walcott had 2.5 TFL and 0.5 sacks all year). Walcott gave him issues by challenging him with a speed rush but then bursting inside after Henderson was over committing to try to take away the speed rush and he struggled to recover in these instances. I imagine that is why may be trying to protect against the inside move initially at times before taking away the speed rush as a secondary option, but it was something that really confused me. He didn’t have issues protecting against inside moves against Prince Shembo, Bjoern Werner, Kareem Martin or James Gayle for the most part, but Walcott was giving him some problems. It may simply be Henderson playing up and down to his competition, but I can’t find an explanation for it.
Run Blocking: This phase of Henderson’s game was a bit of a let-down for me. He’s not a poor run blocker by any means, but having watched him in high school I was expected a mauler that could dominate in this phase of the game. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case, as he regularly bent at the waist and involved himself in what I started to refer to as “the matador and the bull” where the defender would back up and let Henderson, or the bull, run forward with his waist bent and at times his head down and just fall to the ground. Thereafter the defender would pursue the ballcarrier. I didn’t notice it as frequently against Notre Dame but it became a consistent pattern in all the other games I watched and it really concerns me. Without bending at the waist he wasn’t able to generate much push off the ball and almost exclusively generates pancake blocks when he bends at the waist. Without doing this he is essentially a wall-off blocker, just a really big one with good length. Like I said, he’s not a bad run blocker and even though he isn’t a dominant drive blocker with good technique he can still wall-off effectively, he’s a good combo blocker and he has the athleticism to get to the second level, he just isn’t the mauler you would expect for a 6’8”, 345 pound offensive tackle. He does need work on his cut-blocking technique, he has issues with his hand placement in the run game as well, and his short-area quickness isn’t great and it shows when he doesn’t quite get to a spot against quicker defenders at times. Overall he’s a pretty good run blocker, he’s just not dominant or elite and unless he cleans up his waist bending (he doesn’t appear to be a natural knee bender to me) I don’t think he will be in the future.
Overall: Henderson is a complicated prospect to evaluate because even though he has all the size, athleticism and ability you could want in a right tackle he hasn’t quite put it all together yet. He’s close to doing so as a pass blocker in my opinion, but he still has room to improve in the run game. Regardless, his conditioning was a problem for him last year and every 3rd series he was substituted out of the game in favor of a talented true freshman named Ereck Flowers. There are also times where he seems to be winded and instead of blocking to the whistle he simply shoves his man and often times his man then involves himself in the play. I stated earlier that I think he could stand to lose a little bit of weight and improve his conditioning and if he was able to do that I think he’d be able to play with better effort snap to snap and not need to get subbed out every 3rd series. One thing that concerns me is that Henderson is a very talented prospect and even if he does put it all together and become a likely 1st round pick I still look at this as essentially a contract year performance. Yes, he finally played up to his potential, but if you draft him will he continue to put in the same effort to stay in shape and continue to improve? Or will he start to rely on his talent again? I would hope that he would continue to improve, but that’s something I’d be concerned about if I was a NFL team. His upside is obvious and I don’t think there is going to be a better pass blocking right tackle prospect in this draft, especially not one with his size and length. I would love to see a dominant run blocking performance from him as a senior, but I mostly expect to see more bending at the waist and balance issues which is unfortunate. Overall I definitely think Henderson will end up in the top 50, perhaps even the 1st round if he continues to improve things like his hand placement and conditioning, and if he continues to give good effort as a NFL player I think he will make a team very happy with his pass blocking, but I don’t think he’s going to be the dominant run blocker some expect him to be as of now.
Projection: Top 50. He could easily go higher than this, and he obviously has 1st round upside, it’s just a question of if or when he lives up to it. I’m excited to see if his conditioning is improved as a senior.