Bills Sophomore Spotlight: Seantrel Henderson

Seantrel Henderson struggled throughout the 2014 season, but he started 16 games at right tackle as a rookie. In 2015, Henderson will have to compete for the job against Cyrus Kouandjio.

“It boils down to talking to the person and finding out where he is mentally,” said Whaley. “With Seantrel we talked to him at the combine and before we drafted him and he understands that this is his last shot. So we thought the value of taking him in the seventh round with the talent he has was a good pick for us. Knowing he’s all in and he knows there won’t be any tolerating any kind of misconduct or misstep we were comfortable with it.”

Buffalo Bills General Manager Doug Whaley

There’s no better time to draft a player with character issues than the seventh round. That’s exactly what Buffalo did with their second seventh round pick in 2014. Henderson came with a lot of baggage, but he flashed first round talent in his career at Miami. Entering college, Tom Lenning, a football recruiting expert, listed Henderson as his top player in the class of 2010 and a cross between Orlando Pace and Jonathan Ogden.

In the seventh round, the reward greatly outweighed the risk when it came to the Bills drafting Henderson.

Before the Bills

Henderson originally committed to USC, but chose to enroll at Miami after USC was handed down sanctions from the NCAA. He began his collegiate career strong by starting nine games as a true freshman, but he never lived up to the hype he received as the top player in the 2010 class. In his time at Miami, Henderson made 26 career starts at right tackle.

Henderson found himself getting suspended three times at Miami, all for marijuana use. Despite never living up to the hype, Henderson was named an All-ACC Honorable mention in both 2012 and 2013.

Leading up to the NFL draft, Henderson was very open with teams about his marijuana use. The Sun-Sentinel quoted Henderson as saying, "I'm just being honest with every team and letting them know exactly what the situations were, and that I'm putting all the negative things behind me moving on to the next level," Henderson said. "I want to be a starter and play in the NFL.

"I'm showing my character. Showing them that I'm responsible, reliable, dependable," Henderson said. "I want to keep letting them know all the negative things are behind me."

An NFL executive was asked about Henderson’s marijuana use and the executive said the following:

 "As long as he doesn't fail the combine's drug test, we can get past that," the executive said before pointing out UM cornerback Sam Shields had similar issues before turning in an impressive career with the Packers. "Plenty of teams take chances on players with his talent."

The executive’s statement proved to be ominous as Henderson did in fact fail his drug test at the combine. Things only got worse as Henderson didn’t finish his pro day workout due to dehydration. Despite these red flags, the Bills took Henderson with pick 237.

What Analysts Said

"If you want to draw up a first-round offensive tackle, this is the kid. Offensive line coaches want to coach him. But there's a downside. There is all kinds of negative off-the-field issues. Because of all the issues off the field, he took himself from being a first-round pick to being a seventh-round pick."

Mike Mayock,

"This kid was the no. 1 guy. He was who everybody wanted coming out of high school. He was supposed to be the next Jonathan Ogden – that type of player coming out of the prep ranks. If he can stay focused, if he can just be all football and no other problems, then he can be a factor in the NFL. But he got pushed way down, beyond where any player with his physical prowess should be."

-Mel Kiper, Jr.

"For 6-7, 331 pounds he runs pretty well. He’s got power. And when he’s on his game, he’s dominant. He could have been a first-round pick if he had done all the right things right. Even if he had done things right the last six months he may have been a third, fourth-round pick. He falls in the seventh round for one simple reason: you can’t trust him. Maybe this is the wakeup call he needs."

-Todd McShay

“He is the quintessential underachiever. You’ve got to make a decision as an organization, do you want an underachiever in your building or don’t you? They took a chance and we’ll find out. He’s got one chance and one chance only."

-Bill Polian

2014 Season

Henderson was one of the bigger surprises of the 2014 season. The seventh round pick beat out Cyrus Kouandjio, the team’s second round pick, to win the right tackle job. Henderson started all 16 games with the Bills at the position.

Among all tackles that played at least 25 percent of their team’s snaps, Henderson ranked 82nd out of 84 eligible players at Pro Football Focus. The analytics site said that Henderson was responsible for six sacks, 12 quarterback hits and 28 quarterback hurries.

While Henderson’s ratings weren’t strong at PFF, he had to play next to Erik Pears all season. Pears was rated 76th out of 78 guards and struggled throughout the year at right guard. It appears that the previous coaching staff felt that may have played a role in Henderson’s struggles. Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News revealed that Doug Marrone’s coaching staff felt that Henderson was the most talented player on Buffalo’s offensive line.

2015 Outlook

Although he started all 16 games at right tackle last season, Henderson finds himself in the midst of a competition at right tackle with Kouandjio. While Kouandjio disappointed in 2014, he’s spent the majority of his offseason training at LeCharles Bentley’s offensive line training center. During the offseason training program, Kouandjio has taken an early lead in their competition.

Henderson didn’t do himself any favors when he missed the team’s first mandatory minicamp practice. He had travel issues and Rex Ryan said the following on his absence, “He was not in the building. You always tell guys, especially when you’re coming up heading north and all that type of stuff, always try to prepare a little bit. I’ll talk to him about that.”

At training camp, Henderson and Kouandjio’s battle for the right tackle position will probably be the most talked about competition, with the exception of the quarterback competition. Even if Henderson loses his starting job to Kouandjio, Henderson would be the team’s top reserve at the position. The team brought in Wayne Hunter recently, but he isn’t likely to push Henderson or Kouandjio for the top reserve spot.

Looking ahead, Henderson could be a very valuable asset for the Bills, along with Kouandjio. Cordy Glenn, the team’s starting left tackle, is entering the final year of his rookie deal and the team may not have the money to re-sign Glenn. If Glenn walks, Henderson and Kouandjio could be the future bookends for the Bills for years to come.


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