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, four touchdowns, 2015: 36 receptions, 774 yards, five touchdowns, 2016: 82 receptions, 1,535 yards, 19 touchdowns
Strengths: Henderson was one of the most productive receivers in college football last season thanks to his game-breaking speed and ability to stretch defenses down the field. The Louisiana Tech product developed a reputation early in his career as a deep threat, but during his junior season, his skill set really began to take shape and he became an asset for his team in more ways than just one. With a 4.46-second 40-yard dash time, Henderson has the straight-line speed to challenge cornerbacks on go routes, but he also demonstrated a critical ability to work back to the football and make contested catches. Though he lined up primarily as an outside receiver in college, Henderson has the type of frame and elusiveness that suggest he could thrive in the slot if he's able to improve his route running technique on short-to-intermediate patterns. Even though he's slighter than some of the best receivers in this year's draft, Henderson does possess a bulldog's mentality when competing for the football at its highest point, and doesn't show any signs of shying away from contact in the air, which are both qualities that should help him rise up draft boards.
Weaknesses: Playing in an Air Raid offense at the college level, Henderson wasn't required to showcase the type of route discipline many of his draft-eligible counterparts were in their offenses. As a result, we have questions about how well Henderson will fit into a pro-style offense that will ask him to be more precise with his cuts and more disciplined off the ball at the line of scrimmage. While it's entirely possible that Henderson is capable of picking up these skills during training camp, there are nuances to the NFL route tree that might be difficult for a player like Henderson who was primarily a deep threat in college to pick up in a short span of time. Additionally, there's serious concerns about how Henderson will be able to block in the NFL, and whether he'll be a liability on run plays. While that's not a disqualifying trait for wide receivers, Henderson will have a lot to learn before he's able to become a more complete weapon on the perimeter.
Henderson's fit: Henderson is a classic case of a mid-major prospect who has risen up draft boards in recent weeks as scouts have begun to watch more tape of players from smaller schools. Though he had just one standout season at Louisiana Tech, there's so much to like about the skill set and versatility Henderson brings to an offense, especially one like the Cardinals'. While Henderson might endure growing pains in year one, he's the type of talent who has the raw skill set to bloom into a big-time contributor over the next few seasons. Henderson is definitely a high ceiling, low floor player who could blossom or could wind up riding the bench his entire career, but we really like the way he uses his speed to stress defenses and the way he competes for the football. Henderson's game is somewhat reminiscent of Cardinals' wide receiver John Brown, and though the team might be in the market for a taller bookend-type of a receiver on the outside, he's an exciting, smooth talent with a lot of potential and should have the ability to help a team like the Cardinals in some way or another early in his career.