Who is Robert Henderson?

Robert Henderson’s NFL.com profile is blank. No career numbers or quick stats. But NFL.com does at least have a photo, which is more than is present on the Detroit Lions’ official website.

DetroitLions.com lists Henderson as a 6-foot-3, 278 pound defensive end from Southern Mississippi. Unfortunately, there isn’t a biography, summary of playing experience, or even a picture.

So who did the Seahawks acquire from Detroit on Monday? One would have to assume that Henderson is just a minor addition to the deal and will never have an impact on the field on Sundays.

As mentioned in a previous post, Henderson was originally drafted by the New York Giants in the sixth round (199th overall) of the 2008 NFL Draft. But prior to the draft, he was projected by many to be an undrafted prospect.

Entering the draft, Henderson was seen as an undersized pass-rusher with a tendency for the big play. He was considered an explosive, first-move lineman, best suited on the weak side of the defense where his physical attributes could be more effectively utilized.

Possessing only marginal size but unique explosiveness, many scouts projected him to be a pass-rush specialist – in the right system. Unfortunately for Henderson, he has yet to find that system in the National Football League.

After being drafted by the New York Giants, he was cut a few months later after being injured in a preseason game. He was the first draft choice by New York general manager Jerry Reese to not make the final roster.

After his time in New York, Henderson found a spot in Jacksonville on the team’s practice squad. After about a year, he moved onto Detroit where he spent time on the practice squad and was signed to a futures contract in January. He has not played in an NFL game.

So have the Seahawks found a diamond in the rough? Is Robert Henderson the next James Harrison? Unlikely.

But here is the catch: Henderson played a unique position in college that resembles a wrinkle in Pete Carroll’s defense. At Southern Miss, Henderson played the “Bandit” position, a roving linebacker/defensive end very similar to the “Elephant” position that was featured in several of Carroll’s defensive formations at Southern Cal.

Despite Henderson’s lack of experience and size, he may be a good fit in Seattle under Carroll’s watch. As a hybrid linebacker/defensive end, he possesses the unique skills required to roam around in the “Elephant” position. He probably won’t be a starter, but he should provide nice depth on Seattle’s defense and could – with other players like Ricky Foley – revitalize a pass rush that has been nonexistent the past few seasons.

Shaun Dolence: dolencesm@gmail.com
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Tags: Bandit Defensive End Detroit Lions Elephant Pete Carroll Ricky Foley Rob Sims Robert Henderson Seattle Seahawks Trade

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