Second-round LB Prospect Tempts Cardinals

With Darryl Blackstock officially off the roster and Calvin Pace just a memory, the Arizona Cardinals are scratching their heads as to how to fill the void. A promising draft prospect wants to pin his ears back and go after the vacancy in the desert. Cardinalinsider.com breaks down the possibility of this pass-rusher calling Arizona home.

Erin Henderson (6'2", 244 pounds) is a versatile linebacker from Maryland who is ready to rush wherever needed. He could generate a lot of buzz in Arizona for his flexibility and ability to add depth to Arizona's disappearing defense. As a projected second-round pick, Henderson is very attractive to defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast.

"I'm just looking for the best opportunity to play right away, whether it is at Sam, Will or Mike," Henderson said. "I'm really just hoping to have an opportunity to come into a camp and compete for a starting job."

Henderson's knack to adapt will come into play if he makes it to the desert. He could step in as Calvin Pace's replacement on the strongside or compete for a spot next to Gerald Hayes in the middle ground.

Henderson learned to adjust after his freshman season in college. In order to make a career out of football, he needed to switch from quarterback to just about anything else.

"If I stayed at quarterback, I probably wouldn't be standing here at this podium and getting ready for the NFL draft," Henderson said. "I take everything in stride and I made the most of my opportunity to play defense and I enjoyed playing linebacker."

His family name made linebacker seem like a good choice. Henderson is the younger brother of Minnesota Vikings linebacker E.J. Henderson, who has been a valuable resource as to what to expect of the draft process.

Arizona is far enough from the Twin Cities that Erin can make a name for himself.

"I think if we were in the same city, I'd have to deal with a lot of the same things as far as being in the shadow of E.J. and living up to the expectations that come with it," Henderson said."

Henderson's signal-calling experience didn't go to waste. Maryland coaches called on the middle and weakside linebackers to make the calls for shifts into different formations based on their pre-snap reads.

Henderson was responsible to make the checks when the other team went into motion. He thinks the practice prepared him for anything the NFL can throw at him.

Amberly Richardson is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a correspondent for Scout.com. She has contributed to the official Web sites of several NFL players for Sixthman Communications.


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