What Can Carlos Henderson Bring to the Denver Broncos' Offense?
Henderson made a name for himself as both a prolific receiver and returner during his time at LA Tech.
He'll look to continue that success with the Broncos, but first, let's take a look at how he fared throughout his collegiate career.
Carlos Henderson: The Prospect
Henderson finished his final year at Louisiana Tech with 82 receptions for 1,535 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns.
He accrued 23.7 percent of Louisiana Tech’s targets, 21.6 percent of the receptions, 30.1 percent of the receiving yards, and 43.6 percent of the touchdowns in his final season:
He was a monster performer for their offense as he and Trent Taylor (136 receptions, 1,803 yards, 12 touchdowns) formed an incredible one-two punch for the Bulldogs. Henderson was also a dynamic kick returner, averaging 26.5 yards per return with 3 touchdowns over his career.
That should present multiple paths to fantasy success for Henderson and provide an opportunity to make an immediate impact seeing playing time early in his career in Denver.
Henderson was also a shifty receiver after the catch, leading the nation in missed tackles among all wideouts:
Carlos Henderson averaged 9.6 YAC and forced a nation leading 48 missed tackles.
— Jeff Ratcliffe (@JeffRatcliffe) February 28, 2017
This evasiveness was evidenced in his sterling broad jump numbers (94th percentile), but the rest of his workout numbers didn't paint Henderson in a particularly bright light.
MockDraftable's spider graph probably best depicts Henderson's shortcomings athletically. A serviceable 40-yard dash time (4.46) likely helped salvage his draft value in the third round, but Henderson looks to be more of a player who shines on tape over his raw athletic measurements.
That being said, Henderson draws quite a few notable comparables in numberFire's database after entering his combine numbers:
|2010||Golden Tate||Round 2, Pick 28||90.03%|
|2014||Sammy Watkins||Round 1, Pick 4||89.77%|
|2010||Andre Roberts||Round 3, Pick 24||89.23%|
|2006||Devin Hester||Round 2, Pick 25||88.96%|
|2014||Donte Moncrief||Round 3, Pick 26||88.33%|
|2009||Mike Wallace||Round 3, Pick 20||88.06%|
|2010||Emmanuel Sanders||Round 3, Pick 18||87.63%|
|2012||A.J. Jenkins||Round 1, Pick 30||87.56%|
|2013||Robert Woods||Round 2, Pick 9||87.38%|
|2012||DeVier Posey||Round 3, Pick 5||87.28%|
His new teammate, Emmanuel Sanders, has WR5 (2014), WR19 (2015), and WR19 (2016) seasons under his belt. We still have yet to see the apex of Sammy Watkins and Donte Moncrief's careers, but the cohort of wide receivers that Henderson closely resembles looks to be a strong subset.
Carlos Henderson: The Denver Bronco
Henderson enters an exciting offense coordinated by Mike McCoy but faces some major obstacles at the start of his professional career.
Sanders and Demaryius Thomas have had a stranglehold on the Broncos targets since they started playing together. Sanders has been a top-24 receiver (as noted above), accruing 141, 136, and 137 targets over the past three years. Thomas has surpassed those totals with 184 (WR2), 177 (WR11), and 144 (WR16). The two have combined for over 50 percent of the team's targets each of the past three seasons, quite a feat in today's NFL.
There's also plenty of questions circling the quarterback position after Trevor Siemian outperformed 2016's first-round pick Paxton Lynch significantly. Denver also just drafted Chad Kelly in the seventh round where he could potentially make the 53-man roster as the team's third quarterback. It's hard to have much confidence in the quarterback position with both Siemian and Lynch completing less than 60 percent of their passes last year.
The good news for Henderson is that there isn't much depth beyond the two starting wideouts entering their age-30 seasons.
Former second-round pick Cody Latimer never materialized like most of his wide receiver peers in the 2014 rookie class. He still has a year left on his rookie contract, but has amassed just 16 total receptions over three seasons.
Jordan Norwood was third in wide receiver snaps last season, playing 44.2 percent of the team's offensive snaps. The journeyman will be entering his age-31 season and has yet to eclipse the 300-yard mark in a season.
Henderson has a very strong chance of leaving training camp third on the Broncos' depth chart without much competition to hold him back.
He also has a chance to play significant snaps when the team elects to run with three wideouts. Sanders has thrived in the slot over the course of his career and expects to be used more in the slot this upcoming season. It should naturally allow Henderson to take over Norwood's vacated spot, where Henderson thrived at Louisiana Tech. Henderson ran 96 percent of his routes on the outside, as charted in Matt Harmon's Reception Perception.
Dynasty fantasy football enthusiasts shouldn't expect much out of Henderson in the foreseeable future. Thomas and Sanders' heavy involvement captures the large majority of the receiving work, and Henderson will have to work hard for scraps on a team that ranks towards the middle of the pack in pass play percentage (15th-most last year). While current dynasty ADP is still being recalculated following the draft, I don't think it's outlandish to spend as high as the 2.03 in typical 12-team rookie drafts.
Henderson's redraft value will likely be late towards the end of your draft as a potential flier. It's difficult to project a high probability for top-24 weeks for him considering there's also a low probability for touchdowns. The Broncos ranked bottom-10 in red zone trips per game last year and the Sanders-Thomas combo combined for 58.9 percent of the red zone targets. Henderson's 5'11" frame doesn't quite make him a desirable red zone target.
While the short term fantasy outlook isn't that favorable for Henderson, he should make a significant real-football impact with the Broncos as the third wideout and potentially as a return man. Henderson's list of NFL comparables leaves reason for optimism, and if either Siemian or Lynch make a significant step forward progressing in their sophomore season, Henderson could quickly become a priority waiver wire addition.
For now, Denver fans should be quite pleased to have picked up a receiver as dynamic and successful as Carlos Henderson.