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2020 NFL mock draft: CJ Henderson can help fix the Falcons’ defense

Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn is on the hot seat, and he can get off it with a good draft.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 02 Georgia v Florida Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn might be getting antsy about his job security. Quinn has now coached five seasons in Atlanta. His team made the Super Bowl in 2016, lost in the Divisional Round in 2017, and had a 7-9 record in each of the last two seasons.

The reason behind the struggles the last two seasons is the team’s defense. Atlanta ranked 23rd in points allowed last season and 19th in turnovers created. Suffice to say, fixing the defense should be the first priority for the Falcons the rest of this offseason.

In the SB Nation NFL writers’ mock draft, Dave Choate of The Falcoholic is here assuming the role of general manager Thomas Dimitroff.

16: Atlanta Falcons: CJ Henderson, CB, Florida

Choate: Sometimes the stars just align. I’m a huge Javon Kinlaw fan and would’ve snapped him up in an instant here, but the Falcons have a massive hole at cornerback right now. In this scenario, arguably the second-best corner in the class just fell into their laps, allowing them to address a problem area both now and in the future.

Henderson has the size, length, speed, and overall athletic profile to be an ideal Quinn cornerback. A little sloppiness and grabbiness on his part shouldn’t keep the Falcons from snagging him, and if the draft plays out this way, I think he’s absolutely the logical choice.

Henderson also gives the Falcons’ 3-4 interesting young corners, with him looking like the likely top option and Isaiah Oliver, Kendall Sheffield, and Jordan Miller all getting the opportunity to be real contributors. I’d be pretty happy with this, even if for the second straight year I didn’t get the dominant defensive tackle I wanted (Buffalo’s Ed Oliver).

Analysis: The Falcons made a big move this offseason, signing pass rusher Dante Fowler to a three-year, $48 million contract. It filled the team’s biggest need, but Atlanta could still use some pass rush help. There are some options here too, including K’Lavon Chaisson of LSU and Yetur Gross-Matos of Penn State. Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa would be an interesting fit as well. He’s like a cross between Kinlaw and Gross-Matos in what he can do.

Henderson would be a good fit in his own right. Sheffield should be able to fill in for the departed Desmond Trufant. Henderson could play the other spot. Isaiah Oliver is more of a nickel cornerback. In Atlanta’s Cover 3 defense, Henderson could shine because of his excellent ball skills.

The greater question about this pick is what the Falcons’ defense needs more: another pass rusher or another cornerback.

Top five remaining players:

  • 14. Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
  • 15. Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
  • 16. K’Lavon Chaisson, Edge, LSU
  • 18. Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
  • 19. Patrick Queen, LB, LSU

At 11 a.m. ET, the Dallas Cowboys are up with pick No. 17 coming courtesy of Dave Halprin of Blogging the Boys.


What grade do you give the pick of Henderson by the Falcons?

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