Let me start by commending the Cowboys front office for the great job they have done thus far in the free agency. The theme has mostly been pass defense, which after looking at our 23 ranked pass defense play last year I can't argue with this strategy at all. So staying with that defensive theme I have decided to look at another unit on defense and that is the defensive line. I know Jerry refers to our d-line as a strength, but I have a player that I think can come in and help our d-line out a lot right now. About a week or so ago I saw the post someone wrote about the nose guard position and although I liked the post he didn't have this one players name on that list of free agents, I'll explain why. So without further ado let me introduce this player also known as Big Hen or Big John.
John Henderson is a mammoth of a man standing at 6'7 and 335 lbs. Henderson had a very successful collegiate career were he was named the Outland trophy winner given to the best interior lineman in the country his junior year and he also was a two time first team All American. He was taken by the Jacksonville Jaguars 9th overall in the 2002 draft. Henderson has had a very productive pro career, were he has been named to the pro bowl twice in his career. In the post I mentioned earlier about nose guards the reason why he wasn't on that list of available free agents is because he was still on the raiders roster, but as expected he was released to help out their salary cap situation.
With all free agents pickups there is always concerns, such as why the previous team is willing to part ways with the player. Henderson isn't the exception there are concerns, such as his age he is now entering his 11th year in the league and with older players there is always the question about how productive they can be for you. Also if you looked at his career numbers you see that he has been a very productive DT, even more productive and consistent then his highly overpaid college teammate Albert Haynesworth. In the last couple of years though his production has declined mostly due to injuries.
The nose tackle position is a very unglorified position. You do all the dirty work such as take on double teams and free up backers to makes plays, but yet you get little recognition from the public. Henderson unlike his college teammate is unselfish and is willing to play in whatever scheme a team ask of him. He is a great run stopper and his large frame allows him to easily push the pocket, and when he can't get to the quarterback his height allows him to have a lot of pass deflections. I know a lot of people feel that he is not the ideal size you want for a nose guard, but I feel he has showed over his career that he can be a productive interior lineman and that he uses his size very well look at the pass deflections.
We all like Ratliff, but we feel he is undersized at nose and that he has been wearing down throughout the season. By bringing in Henderson we can move Ratliff over and let him use his great penetration to be a disruptive defensive end rather then a nose guard who doesn't really occupy space, but rather gets up field quickly which allows the opposing lineman to go to the next level and block our linebackers.
By no means am I suggesting Henderson as a long term fix, but rather as a player that comes in at a reasonable price that not only helps out at one position, but in turn helps out at two if we move Ratliff to DE. With his age and the fact that he probably wants to play for a contender I can see us having to give him in the range to probably a 1 year deal for about 1.5 to 2 mill range. Before you say that is too much for a veteran who has had a decline of productivity lately, let me remind you that we pay 2 mill to Spears and Coleman players who probably won't start this upcoming year. Even if John can't seem to stay healthy the entire year, just by having him play in the first part of the year he helps us to keep Ratliff fresh and hopefully more healthy for December or possibility the playoffs if we are lucky.
By acquiring Henderson this gives us one less need going into the draft and I have nothing against Poe but I don't want to spend a first round pick on him. I know he is a combine phenom, but just look at his senior year stats 33 tackles (8 for loss) and 1 sack. Henderson played with a target on his back as a senior when you consider he was the Outland winner as a junior, and he still had 48 tackles (9 for loss) and 4.5 sacks in 10 starts. Then you throw in the fact that Henderson played in the SEC and Poe in the Conference USA, that is how you dominant folks. So that is my free agent acquisition that I feel cannot only have an immediate impact for us at a reasonable price, but can also help give us that flexibility to move Ratliff over to DE were he can really dominant. So that is my opinion and you know what they say about opinions everybody has one, so feel free to comment and to let me know what you think about Big John joining the Cowboy nation. Check out the video