In 2013, the Buffalo Bills selected E.J. Manuel in the first round of the NFL Draft to become their franchise quarterback. This year, the Bills made a strong effort to build around Manuel with their draft selections. One of the team’s main objectives was to select offensive lineman to give Manuel an opportunity to grow as a pocket passer. After selecting former Alabama offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandijo in the second round, the Bills again addressed the offensive tackle position when the team selected former Miami offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson in the seventh round.
Henderson has a rare combination of size and athleticism, but injuries and off-the-field issues have prohibited him from reaching his full potential. Henderson has the speed to make impact blocks downfield that few offensive tackles can make, which was reinforced when he recorded an outstanding 5.04 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine. He also showed versatility as both a pass- and run-blocker while taking snaps at both left and right tackle during his college career.
While Henderson possesses the body type, blocking skills, footwork, toughness and awareness to be a first-round draft selection, his intangibles are a major concern. He was suspended multiple times for testing positive for marijuana while in college and then again tested positive at the NFL Combine. Henderson also has been known to take plays off and has exhibited little drive or passion.
Henderson could very easily become an impact player in the NFL if he is able to correct his character concerns and Buffalo may just be the place to do it. However, he will have to do so quickly as head coach Doug Marrone has already stated that Henderson will be on a short leash and if he fails in Buffalo, his NFL career may be over before it has a chance to start.
Henderson will have an opportunity to play immediately, as the Bills have a fairly mediocre group of pass blockers at their current disposal. During OTAs and training camp, Henderson will compete with Cordy Glenn, Erik Pears and fellow rookie Kouandijo for playing time. Assuming Marrone can get him to realize his potential, Henderson could become a starter for the Bills at some point in the near future at either left or right tackle. Of the entire group of linemen on the Bills’ current roster, Henderson arguably has the highest potential to become not only a starter, but also a Pro-Bowl-caliber player. With that said, if he makes another critical mistake, it is a possibility that Henderson does not even make the Bills’ 53-man roster.
Henderson has been the classic underachiever to this point in his career and it likely has already cost him millions of dollars in contract money. However, he will have an opportunity to turn his career around in the NFL with the Bills. If Henderson is able to get his act together, there is little doubt that he could have a long, prosperous NFL career and become the biggest steal of this year’s draft class. However, if he makes another poor decision off the field, his return could be similar to what one would expect from a seventh-round draft choice.