Jacksonville Sports Day

Gators Henderson Drafted No. 9 Overall by Jacksonville Jaguars

Photo by Courtney Culbreath

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Former Gators defensive back CJ Henderson was selected ninth overall in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft on by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“I feel the most comfortable with staying in Florida, that’s huge,” said Henderson, following his selection. “Being able to stay close to my family and my former college. I feel like I bring a lot to Jacksonville. I feel like I can take out opponents and number one receivers and I plan to do that here.”

Overall, UF has now had 53 first-round selections in its storied history and has totaled 18 first-round picks since 2007, which is fourth-most among all schools nationally. Only Alabama (33), Ohio State (23) and LSU (21) have more. Meanwhile, USC (15), Clemson (14), Georgia (13), Florida State (12), and Notre Dame (10) trail the Gators.

Henderson is also the 13th Gator to be taken in the top 10 during the common draft era and the highest-selected defensive player since Joe Haden was drafted seventh overall by Cleveland in 2010. UF now ranks tied for third among SEC schools (LSU) with the most top-10 draft picks since 1967 behind only Alabama (25) and Texas A&M (14).

In addition, UF has had nine defensive backs selected in the first round since 1970 and Henderson is the latest Gator DB since Vernon Hargreaves (2016/11th) to be selected in the top 15.

“CJ Henderson is a physical defensive back. Great size, about six-foot-one, 204 pounds. Extremely athletic,” said ESPN analyst Desmond Howard. “[He] tracks the ball extremely well and has supreme confidence in his speed. Really good make-up speed. Once the ball is in the air, he can go get it. That’s a pretty tremendous selection right there.”

Henderson is the first UF defensive back to be selected in the draft’s opening round since 2016 when safety Keanu Neal went 17th overall to the Atlanta Falcons and Hargreaves was the 11th pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He is the first Gator first-rounder since DL Taven Bryan was selected 29th overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2018.

Jacksonville has now drafted 12 Gators, most recently selecting Jawaan Taylor in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Henderson joins Bryan (2018), Dante Fowler Jr. (2015), Fred Taylor (1998), Reggie Nelson (2007) and DE Derrick Harvey (2008) as the only Jaguars’ first-round draft picks from Florida.

UF has now had at least one pick in every NFL Draft since 1952, the longest streak in the SEC.

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