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E.j. Henderson

LB | (0-0, 245) | Maryland
By Pro Football Weekly

Notes: Did not run at the Scouting Combine. Redshirted in 1998. Started the last two games in '99 and all but one game in both 2000 and '01. Missed one game in 2000 with a sprained knee and was demoted for a game in '01 as punishment for violating team rules. Had 39 tackles, two tackles for loss and a half a sack in '99; 109-13-2 in 2000; and 150-26-6 with four passes broken up, an interception and two blocked kicks in '01, when he was the Atlantic Coast Conference's Defensive Player of the Year and a Pro Football Weekly first-team All American. Injured his back late in the '01 season or probably would have entered the '02 NFL draft. Instead, underwent surgery in April 2002. Returned to action in the fall and led the team in tackles (175), tackles for loss (19) and sacks (8). Also had two interceptions. Was winner of Bednarik Award as nation's top defensive player. Also won Butkus Award as nation's top linebacker.

Positives: Henderson is a big, strong, active, physical, aggressive, instinctive linebacker with excellent vision, awareness and game speed. He anticipates well and knows just when to hit the hole to get into the backfield and make plays for negative yardage. He covers much more ground than his speed would indicate and is a nonstop hustle guy. He can stack and shed at the point of attack, uses his hands well to shed and has a short, explosive burst to the ball. A quick-twitch type of athlete, he is adequate in pass coverage and can blitz. He can also get outside at times. Is willing to play hurt.

Negatives: Will play out of control at times and will gamble and freelance quite a bit. Doesn't always play with good leverage. Lacking speed to the sideline. Coverage is OK, but he struggles on longer routes and against very quick running backs. Doesn't backpedal well. Shows some stiffness and lacks suddenness and speed. Doesn't have long speed.

Summary: A decent 40 time and clean bill of health would be enough to make Henderson the top linebacker drafted in April. He won't wow you with his test numbers, but Henderson plays faster than his timed speed and has outstanding instincts.

* Player biographies are provided by Pro Football Weekly.