Along with Jeffrey Okudah, Henderson was billed as the best man-to-man prospect in the draft. He earned an All-SEC First-Team nod in the 2019 season as well.
Since then, Henderson’s status on the Jaguars has been far from consistent. His name was floated around in trade talks during training camp. Henderson had a good preseason but that doesn’t mean he’s in the clear. The Patriots, meanwhile, need a cornerback. They have the pieces to make a trade as well. Here are three reasons the why Patriots should trade for Henderson.
3 reasons why the Patriots should trade for C. J. Henderson
# 1 – Stephon Gilmore is on the PUP list
One of the more underrated stories this offseason was Stephon Gilmore’s status. Gilmore was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2019. This offseason, though, Gilmore has been recovering from a quad injury. He’s been put on the PUP list and will miss at least the first six weeks.
Henderson plays man-to-man just like Gilmore. The former isn’t as good as Gillmore, but he would be an asset nonetheless. It was just preseason, but in single coverage, Henderson was in the top three at his position.
#2 – Insurance policy if the Patriots trade Gilmore
In addition to healing from the quad, Gilmore requested an updated contract with more money. The Patriots didn’t want to acquiesce, which resulted in his holdout early in training camp. Gilmore wasn’t expecting to be traded, but anything can happen in the NFL.
Jonathan Jones and J.C. Jackson are two decent, young cornerbacks. Both have a bright future ahead of them, but the Patriots would be better off with either Gilmore or Henderson starting outside.
Gilmore will be 31 this season, while Henderson will be just 23. If the Patriots decide to get younger defensively after this season, Henderson could be one of the building blocks.
#3 – Henderson’s draft profile showcases sky-high potential
Henderson showed flashes of what made him the ninth overall pick. He also struggled as a rookie in 2020. Pro Football Focus gave him a 58.3 coverage grade.
That said, cornerback is the hardest position to adjust to in the NFL. The receivers are faster, the games are faster, and the rules are stricter. Henderson has only played eight games so far due to a labrum injury.
His speed is off the chart. In college, Henderson was fast enough to run step-for-step with the likes of Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase. He was incredibly effective on cornerback blitzes that opponents didn’t see coming. Along with his frightening pace, Henderson has some physicality to him. He’s not afraid to try and strip the ball from the wide receiver.
Henderson isn’t close to a finished product. But who better to help him reach his potential than Bill Belichick? He’s coached Darrell Davis, Malcolm Butler and Gilmore over the last seven seasons. Henderson’s draft stock was high coming out of Florida. That player is waiting to be unleashed, potentially with the Patriots.