Denver Broncos: Don’t forget about Carlos Henderson

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Don’t forget about second-year wide receiver Carlos Henderson, whose explosiveness and ability to create after the catch could be a huge factor in 2018…

As OTAs continue on for the Denver Broncos, it seems like a great time to pause and remember that not only did the Denver Broncos invest high draft choices in the wide receiver position in 2018, but they did so in 2017 as well.

Specifically, the team spent the 82nd overall pick in last year’s draft on Louisiana Tech’s Carlos Henderson, one of the top all-purpose players in the country from 2015 to 2016. Henderson’s abilities as a receiver, returner, and even running back made him one of the most coveted playmakers in the class of 2017, but he was forced to take a redshirt after suffering a thumb injury in training camp.

What was originally said to be just a four-week injury at most turned out to be a season-ender for Henderson, who then added insult to injury this offseason when he was arrested in Louisiana for possession of marijuana.

After Henderson got his name in the news for the wrong reason, he started ramping up his offseason training, or at least visibility of it. He was posting on his Instagram story daily different workout routines, footwork, or football drills he was working on, and it was clear that he was taking the offseason very seriously.

Perhaps the intensity ramped up when he realized he was going to be facing some stiff competition from an incoming rookie class that includes second-round pick Courtland Sutton and fourth-round pick DaeSean Hamilton.

The redshirt may have been a blessing in disguise for Henderson, who admitted during his rookie training camp that getting up to speed with the playbook was the toughest transition he was having.

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Playing in the NFL is not easy. Absorbing an NFL playbook is not easy. For Henderson, going from Louisiana Tech where he was not asked to run a complicated route tree to Mike McCoy’s expansive offense was not ideal in the least.

Couple that with a late graduation at Louisiana Tech, and Henderson was way behind even heading into camp last season, where he showed at times just how raw he was.

With a year under his belt and the Broncos transitioning full-time to Bill Musgrave’s offense, Henderson should be primed to make a significant impact. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders remain atop the depth chart, but the number three receiver position is up for grabs as the Broncos’ top reserves from last season are either gone or injured (Jordan Taylor).

Henderson’s ability to make plays after the catch must be utilized in Denver’s offense this season, whether that means getting him the ball on screen plays, having him run drag routes across the middle of the field, getting him the ball on an end-around, as a kick returner, or however they need to make it happen.

With his explosive speed and quickness in the open field, as well as an ability to break tackles, there is no reason Henderson should not thrive in his redshirt rookie season with the Broncos.

The learning curve mentally as a rookie is the toughest part of the transition from college to the pros. If he can play freely, I think Henderson will be a major asset to the Broncos’ offense in 2018.