The Denver Broncos made their third selection of the 2017 NFL Draft with Louisiana Tech’s explosive wide receiver and returner Carlos Henderson. Henderson was a star in Tech’s wide open offense, producing at a high level to the tune of 2,473 all-purpose yards while contributing as a receiver, runner, and returner.

Here’s his scouting report after having studied him throughout the year.

Strengths

  • Henderson is a truly explosive and elusive playmaker in the open field. He was featured heavily in his offense as the team focused on putting the ball in his hands.
  • He’s a special player on screens or returns where his quickness and ability as a runner truly stands out.
  • Henderson is the definition of elusive as he weaves through traffic, has great change of direction skills and though he’s short he’s devastating making defenders miss with deceiving power.
  • He’s short but carries almost 200 pounds on his 5-foot-11 frame which allows him to run with physicality.
  • His jump cuts and ability to make defenders miss in the open field is elite. A beastly runner with the ball in his hands.
  • While he’s short, he uses his body well to shelter off defenders and high point catches.
  • He has explosive speed down the sideline (ran a 4.46 at the Combine and had a ridiculous broad jump) that allows him to burn defensive backs and create easy separation. His acceleration off the snap is also special.
  • His ability as a route runner is very promising; he has the skills to shake defenders off him and create a cushion for himself underneath.
  • He should be a valuable safety blanket for the Broncos young quarterbacks with his ability to get open and create yards after the catch with his explosive running ability.
  • He’ll also be a valuable asset in the return game where he amassed 805 yards and two touchdowns on only 25 kick returns last season.

Weaknesses

  • Henderson is an explosive athlete but needs to become more polished in running deep routes.
  • He’s a willing contested ball catcher but won’t always win the battle as his shorter frame limits him in these situations.
  • He also will have some drops from time to time especially in jump ball situations with a corner on top of him.
  • He’ll never be a true outside receiver due to his height, but his three cone drill was also surprisingly slow. Showing less than stellar change of speed skills though that doesn’t bear out on tape.
  • Coming from a small school, he’ll be faced with a large jump in the level of competition he’s faced.

How he fits

The Broncos have been looking for a well-rounded playmaker who could be a valuable chess piece to their offense and Henderson is certainly that. In his last collegiate season, he scored two touchdowns running the ball, two more on returns and 19 as a receiver. Put the ball in his hands, and he’ll make magic happen, it’s that simple. That’s exactly what the doctor ordered for Denver who’ve been lacking “juice” offensively and on special teams.

Henderson would be a great fit in the slot for Denver complimenting Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders to perfection. He also has deep speed that teams will have to respect, in turn, opening up space for other playmakers in the passing game. He’s particularly valuable in the screen game where he’s a spectacular open-field runner who’ll break off at least a few home run type runs. His added value as a weapon out the backfield and as a returner is very big for the Broncos who were looking for a versatile playmaker. The fit is great, and his package of skills makes this a very interesting pick.

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Born in Boulder and raised in Milan, Italy like Danilo Gallinari. Also like Gallo, I moved to the States at 18; unlike Gallo, I wasn’t drafted by the Knicks but came to attend Western State Colorado University (go Mountaineers!). I graduated in 2009 with a major in Communications and Media and two minors in Journalism and Philosophy. After working in the linguistic field for a few years and listening to sports radio ALL DAY at work, I decided to do it myself and it changed my life around. (Now, I can say I couldn’t be happier and am proudly married to the love of my life Kate.) I moved back to Gunnison and started volunteering for the NPR affiliate up in Crested Butte, while also starting to contribute on an NFL podcast for playitusa.com. A 10 minute bit on one podcast turned into being a regular, year-round on three different podcasts on the NFL, College Football, and the NFL Draft. I’ve since started writing on trueblueblog.net and playitusa.com as well as writing in depth Draft analysis for footballnation.it in the past 3 years. I love the Draft and knowing the stars of the future before everyone else. My sports mount Rushmore is Terrell Davis, Patrick Roy, Italian soccer star Roberto Baggio, and John Elway, deal with it! Hit me up at @andresimone to talk NFL, NCAA football, NFL Draft, CSU football, Nuggets or anything else Colorado or Italy sports related.