Former Michigan quarterback Chad Henne has had a very busy week.
This past Tuesday, he worked out for the Seattle Seahawks. Later that evening, Henne, offensive tackle Jake Long and wide receivers Adrian Arrington and Mario Manningham had dinner with Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano, GM Jeff Ireland, offensive coordinator Dan Henning and offensive line coach Mike Maser.
Then on Wednesday, the strong-armed signal-caller worked out for the Dolphins at 8 a.m. before his afternoon workout with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Henne then had a chance to catch his breath on Thursday prior to a dinner engagement with the Atlanta Falcons. He was scheduled to wrap up his busy week by working out for them on Friday. And while he was excited about all of the teams that were showing interest in him, the Falcons' interest was possibly the most intriguing due to the fact that they will likely give a rookie the chance to start this year, just as Henne did for the Wolverines when he was a true freshman, completing 60.2 percent of his passes while throwing 25 touchdowns.
AP Photo/Tony Ding
"I don't know what they are going to do in the first round, but obviously they have a high second-round pick, so it's a great opportunity for a quarterback to step into that system," Henne said during an exclusive interview with Scout.com this week.
With so much on the line in terms of his future in the NFL, it wouldn't be surprising to see the 6-3, 230-pound QB stressed out a bit over the way this past week stacked up. But if you spend just a few minutes talking to him, you'll quickly learn that he's not only mature beyond his years, he's just simply unflappable. He's so focused on his goals that being thrown under the microscope of four NFL teams in four days wouldn't be enough to make him blink.
"It exhausts your mind and body, but if you just keep working out, stay fit, and mentally prepare yourself by going over your plays from the last season, you should be fine," he said. "But they want to know everything. They want to know your characteristics, your personality. So you just present yourself as best you can to every team so they get to see you as who you are."
After he and his teammates spent some time with the impressive cast from Miami who made the trip to see them work out, Henne could tell that that they are interested in a quarterback, a tackle and wideouts.
"I had a great workout with them," he said. "I did well with basically all the throws they wanted to see — some deep throws, some touch throws, some outs."
A short time later, he met with Tampa Bay quarterback coach Greg Olson, who
was involved in trying to recruit Henne as a high school player while Olson was the
quarterbacks coach at Purdue. After a workout, Henne did some board work
"Basically, our offense is similar to Tampa Bay's because our quarterbacks coach, when I was here, went down there and talked to Jon Gruden because Brian Griese was down there," he explained. "So we got a lot of stuff from there."
With 38-year old veteran Jeff Garcia projected as the starter in Tampa Bay, Olson walked Henne through his possible opportunities if the Buccaneers would call the talented quarterback's name at the end of April during the NFL Draft.
"They have Jeff Garcia, and he's projected as the starter and has the experience of being there before," Henne said. "They also signed Brian Griese, and I believe they have Bruce Gradkowski from Toledo. But they're looking for a young quarterback to come in there and step in and play early, or just back up Garcia."
Perhaps the most surprising interest came from Seattle, who has ten-year veteran Matt Hasselbeck leading the offense.
AP Photo/John Raoux
"Seattle was a surprise. Bill Lazor, their quarterback coach, came in," Henne said. "Obviously, they have Matt Hasselback there, and he'll continue to have success for the next couple of years.
"But I think they're looking at the future. Matt doesn't have as many years left as a younger guy does. They need someone who can come in there, learn the system, and if he goes down, they need a backup who can step in."
Since he handled the experience of stepping in right away as a major collegiate football program's quarterback so capably, some NFL talent evaluators will undoubtedly see that as a good sign that Henne may not need a year or two of grooming before being capable of providing a payback on their investment in him.
But what does Henne think? Would it be more advantageous for him to work behind someone like Hasselbeck, or simply jump right as a starter this September?
"It would be a great opportunity to sit behind a vet and just learn from him all the processes that go with the NFL, the ins and outs of the system and everything that goes along with that offense," he said. " But on the other hand, obviously you want to play right away. So if I have the chance to play right away, I'll step in and do the best I can just like I did at Michigan."
The even-keeled quarterback told Scout.com that he had previously worked out for New York Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer earlier this month within a few days of his school's pro day. And he's going to work out for Ravens team officials in his hometown, West Lawn, Pennsylvania, on April 12th since it's closer to Baltimore.
"Then I start my official visits," he said. "I think it's the 14th through the 18th. I go to Baltimore, then to St. Louis, and then to Washington," he said.
As he looks ahead to his NFL future, Henne can look back on his college career with
pride. As a four-year
starter, he completed 828 passes for 9,715 yards while posting 87 touchdowns
and 37 interceptions, including his bowl appearances.
"Hopefully I'm representing Michigan the right way, and I thank the Michigan fans for their support both through the season and right now," he said. "I look forward to coming back here and seeing all the fans."