The Dallas Cowboys wanted to keep All-Pro Cornerback Byron Jones, but at their price. They had a figure of around 12-13 million annually, however, Jones decided to go for the bag and signed a five-year, 82.5 million dollar deal with the Miami Dolphins.
In addition to their already pressing needs at the beginning of the offseason at defensive tackle and safety, cornerback would elevate as far as it’s level of importance in the NFL Draft for the Cowboys with the departure of Jones. Lately, there’s been a name that’s being mentioned in recent mock drafts to possibly solve the Cowboys search for a top cornerback and that’s Florida’s CJ Henderson.
He didn’t waste any time making an impact in Gainesville. In his collegiate debut in 2017, he would return an interception for a touchdown against Michigan. A week later, he ran back another interception for a score vs Tennessee making him the first freshman in school history to return an interception for a touchdown in each of his first two games. He would finish with 22 tackles, four interceptions, and four passes defended and was named second-team All-SEC by the Associated Press. In 2018, Henderson had arguably his best season at Florida with 38 tackles, two interceptions, three sacks, five passes defended, and two forced fumbles while garnering second-team All-SEC honors from the league’s coaches. He didn’t record an interception in 2019, however, he had his third consecutive good season for the Gators. He finished with 33 tackles, 11 passes defended and a sack in nine games (missed time with an ankle injury). The league’s coaches would vote him first-team All-SEC.
Watch “CJ Henderson Career Highlights” on YouTube
Henderson would come right in and more than likely be the team’s top cornerback, or at least challenge rising star Jourdan Lewis for that role, giving the Cowboys a very formidable one-two punch at the position. Chidobe Awuzie, even coming off a down season, gives you a decent third piece at cornerback. Also, factoring in the re-signing of veteran Anthony Brown, it would give the Cowboys a very solid four-man rotation.
At 6’1 204 pounds Henderson has the ideal size and length you want in a cornerback. He displayed top-notch speed and athleticism at the NFL Scouting Combine running a 4.39 in the 40 and recording a 37.5-inch broad jump. Henderson has amazing anticipation to break up passes and clog throwing lanes. Excellent at reading the quarterbacks eyes, can play in a variety of coverage packages and is good in run support.
Scouting report according to NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein
“Silky smooth boundary cornerback with mirror-and-match footwork and the agility and athleticism to stay connected to routes. He has NFL recovery burst and the long speed to track vertical routes downfield. He has the twitchy acceleration to jump a throw and take it away if the quarterback lingers on the target, and he’s quick to wrap and finish after the catch. He makes mental mistakes from time to time and occasionally loses awareness from zone. He’s willing and capable in run support but needs better control as an open-field tackler. Henderson is a fluid cornerback with ball skills and burst and has CB1 ability as a first-rounder.”
There’s a very good chance Henderson could be picked just ahead of the Cowboys in the first round. However, if he’s still there at 17 the organization should pull the trigger and get their CB1 of the future.