WR Marcus Henry
Mark Mangino's praise for wide receiver Marcus Henry on draft day certainly was music to Jets fans' ears.
"Getting Marcus with the 171st pick is a steal for the New York Jets," said the University of Kansas head coach.
Let's just say Mangino, widely regarded as one of the brightest offensive minds in college football, did nothing to lessen expectations for the Jets' sixth-round selection.
"They will like everything about him from his ability, work ethic and the way he conducts himself on and off the field," said Mangino. "If Marcus had redshirted, he would have been one of the premier wide receivers in college football this year."
Henry played like a premier wideout his senior year, setting a school record with 10 touchdown receptions on his 54 catches. He displayed big-play ability throughout the fall as the Jayhawks returned to national prominence, averaging 18.8 yards per catch and finishing five days with at least 100 yards receiving.
"I think I could be a possession kind of guy [in the NFL]. In college, I was considered a tall guy who could go up and get jumpballs," he told reporters on draft weekend. "I think I could bring that into the NFL and develop that more and be that type of receiver."
At 6'4", Henry is certainly a "tall guy" and his size is a welcomed addition to the Jets' receiving corps. He is at least two inches taller than everyone else in WR coach Noel Mazzone's group, has 9" hands and owns a 33¾" arm length.
"He has big-play potential. He's a tall, rangy guy that can go over the top of people and catch the ball high," said Jayhawks offensive coordinator Ed Warinner. "He's a big target with great top-end speed. It's deceiving how fast he is, but he's very fast — nobody could catch him in the Big 12 if he caught a pass and broke it open."
There is a receiver who plays crosstown for the Giants who would also fit most of the above description. Plaxico Burress (6'5", 232) is one of the NFL's most dangerous receivers.
"Plaxico is a good receiver. I don't think I'm anywhere near him or anything like that, but hopefully I can develop my game here with the Jets and be that type of receiver," Henry said during minicamp.
Henry should fit in well with the Jets' underrated receivers. If his track record is any indication, he might go silent for a little while. Kansas upperclassmen gave the Lawton, Okla., native the nickname of "Mute" when he arrived in Lawrence because he didn't talk much.
When put in the New York media glare this past weekend, Henry was softspoken and cordial.
"I don't worry about the pressure or anything like that. I just go out there and play on the field," he told reporters. "That's my focus. I'm not really concerned about the cameras."
A late addition to Kansas' 2004 recruiting class, Henry caught 25 passes over his first two seasons of college ball. He transformed his body in school and by the time he was a junior, he caught 25 passes and scored his first three TDs. He earned All-Big 12 Conference honors last season after amassing 1,014 receiving yards.
"He's great at running slant routes," Warinner said. "Good on the fade because of his height. Good coming across the middle on shallows or dig routes."
KU ran a sophisticated offensive scheme, but there's only so much ground you can cover with the time allotted at colleges. In scholarly terms, Henry has mastered his undergraduate work but there will be more requirements for his graduate study.
"Back in college, we had a lot of formations, but this playbook is a lot bigger," he said.
The Jets definitely got bigger on offense with the addition of Henry. He's an interesting prospect, a potential theft for the Green & White late in the draft.
"I'm ready to see what it's like," he said of the pro game. "I think it will be pretty fun, just seeing how my skills from college are going to carry over to the NFL."