“A quarterback’s best friend” is typically a phrase meant to describe a tight end or running back who provides safe and reliable traits on a snap-to-snap basis as a receiver. But the Denver Broncos don’t have a standout pass-catching threat at either position, despite having two quarterbacks who could benefit greatly from receiving help at both spots. That may be where Carlos Henderson enters the picture, as the third receiver Denver has desperately needed in their offense the past few years.
Why will quarterbacks love Henderson? The 5-11, 200-pound receiver is built similarly to Jarvis Landry, and brings the same edge and post-catch ability to the position that makes the Dolphins wide receiver such a deadly short-intermediate area target for Ryan Tannehill. Henderson’s ability to create offense with the ball in his hands will consistently put Denver in advantageous down-and-distance situations, as he did often at Louisiana Tech.
— #InElwayWeTrust (@EsRolvl) April 29, 2017
Not only does Henderson have running back-like vision and elusiveness in the open field, but he plays with a nasty edge to his game that makes him tough to bring down, even for bigger defenders. His build is layered with muscle, and Henderson never shies away from contact on the field, instead choosing to dish it out whenever possible. Henderson has no qualms about working the middle of the field, aggressively breaking off inside routes to cross safeties’ faces and reel in tough grabs. He’s already begun to show off his ability to turn a quick hitter into a big gain during Denver’s OTAs.
— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurke_SI) May 25, 2017
But as the above tweet indicates, Henderson also brings deep speed and excellent ball tracking to an offense, traits that will be important if the strong-armed Paxton Lynch is inserted into the lineup. He’s a mid-4.4 speed guy who can slip behind a defense and make vertical plays when needed as well, opening up the route tree for the rookie.
Henderson does still need to develop as a complete route runner, but all the quickness and burst is there to eventually become dominant against man coverage when his technique develops. I love his desire and ability to play in traffic and make contested catches despite not having elite length, size or leaping ability. He may not ever be dominant in this area, but for a receiver his size, it’s great to know that he’ll be able to standout in another area outside of his biggest strengths. For a young quarterback like Lynch that may force the issue, having a receiver who will readily compete at the catch point and battle bigger defensive backs in the air is a welcoming sight.
— Julian Barsch (@julian_barsch) March 28, 2017
In addition to the strengths he’ll bring to the team as a receiver at the catch point and after the catch, Henderson offers return ability that will help give Denver more advantageous field position, and may even put points on the board for the team. Henderson had three kickoff returns for touchdowns during his career at Louisiana Tech, and averaged an absurd 32.2 yards per return during last season.
He’s such a dynamic open-field weapon that Denver’s coaches will want to get him involved early, often and in a myriad of ways, which only help open things up for Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, let alone whichever signal caller is under center for Denver. Teams with question marks at the quarterback position are always wise to add playmakers that can create offense on their own, and although Denver’s draft as a whole left something to be desired, they’re going to come away with a massive steal in Henderson as a third round selection.