In the days and weeks leading up to the NFL Draft, CardinalsSource will profile 30 draft prospects who could end up making their way to Arizona this offseason.
Player: Carlos Henderson
Weight: 199 pounds
Arm length: 31 3/8 inches
Hand size: 9 1/8 inches
College stats: 2014: 29 receptions, 569 yards and four touchdowns, 2015: 36 receptions, 774 yards and five touchdowns, 2016: 82 receptions, 1,535 yards and 19 touchdowns
Strengths: Even at 5-foot-11, Henderson has an impressive ability to compete for the ball at its highest point and jockey with defenders to put himself in position to catch passes in traffic. One of Henderson's best assets is his ability to track the ball in the air, adjust his body positioning and shield defenders from having a clean opportunity to make a play on the ball, and it's a quality that makes Henderson an intriguing prospect. With a recorded 40-yard dash time of 4.46 seconds at the NFL Combine, Henderson clearly has the straight line speed to beat defenses over the top, but his film reveals he's not as agile or shifty as some of the better receivers in this year's draft. Nevertheless, with that speed, Henderson can be an asset in either the slot or as an outside receiver, and can make defenders miss after the catch. Is Henderson the strongest player on the field? Probably not, but he also has a thicker, broader frame that at least suggests he should be able to block at an adequate level in the NFL. In addition to his skills as an offensive player, Henderson proved he was a special teams weapon as a kick returner, which shouldn't come as much of a surprise, because when he has an open lane, Henderson hits it hard.
Weaknesses: Questions about whether Henderson fits as a true outside receiver or as a slot receiver will likely persist and cause him to fall behind other less accomplished receivers in this year's draft. Henderson has the body type of a physical slot receiver, but he plays like an outside guy and it's unclear how well he'll transition to the NFL from a position standpoint. With all of the speed that Henderson shows on film in the open field, he seems to lack the initial quick-twitch abilities that would make him a more dynamic presence on the perimeter and that could leave him susceptible to being caught up by defenders in bump and run coverage. What is probably most concerning about Henderson, though, is the lack of variety in the routes he runs on film. Henderson played in an Air Raid offense at Louisiana Tech, and didn't do much more than run quick slants, bubble screens and go routes. Can he master the technique needed to run the full gamut of routes in the NFL? That's another question he'll need to answer.
Henderson's fit: The Cardinals have reportedly met with Henderson already, and were reportedly in attendance at his Pro Day, so the interest is clearly there from the organization's standpoint. Additionally, head coach Bruce Arians said the Cardinals likely wouldn't need to draft a receiver early, so while the team continues to build its depth behind Larry Fitzgerald, it could wind up taking a flier on a player like Henderson in the late rounds. If Henderson is on the board in the fifth, six or seventh round and the Cardinals haven't taken a receiver yet, we think he's a possible fit for the organization because he has the straight-line speed the team likes, he has potential to develop into a physical slot man if the Cardinals can coach him up, and he has a natural ability to make the most of opportunities in the open field. While there's certainly flaws in Henderson's game, he should be considered an intriguing late-round option for Arizona.