Mock Draft Roundup: Mel Kiper Tabs Gators CB C.J. Henderson as Top-15 Pick

The former Gators cornerback has quickly risen since the 2020 NFL Combine, and is selected in the top-15 in this latest Mel Kiper NFL mock draft.
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As the NFL Draft quickly approaches, ESPN's Mel Kiper has released his latest NFL mock draft 3.0.

Currently, the Florida Gators have at least six prospects projected to be selected in the upcoming draft in cornerback C.J. Henderson, defensive linemen Jonathan Greenard and Jabari Zuniga, running back Lamical Perine, and wide receivers Van Jefferson and Tyrie Cleveland.

Henderson, however, is the only one slated to be selected in the first round on April 23rd. In his second mock draft of the season just prior to the NFL Combine, Kiper tabbed Henderson for the Jacksonville Jaguars at the 20th overall selection.

This time, Kiper has pointed to the Las Vegas Raiders as the likely landing spot for Henderson, rising the former second-team All-SEC cornerback from 20th to 12th overall. Kiper explained his reasoning for the rise earlier this week this week:

After the Raiders signed both Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkowski in free agency, you can scratch off-ball linebacker from their list of needs. That still leaves wide receiver and cornerback, though. And since Las Vegas has two first-round picks and this class of receivers is much deeper at the top than the cornerback group, let's give Jon Gruden & Co. a potential No. 1 corner in Henderson here. He had an up-and-down 2019 season, but he cemented his standing as the second-ranked cornerback in this class at the combine, where he ran a 4.39 40. The Raiders get to grab a receiver at No. 19. Could Vegas be an option if one of the other quarterbacks -- Justin Herbert or Jordan Love -- make it here?

Kiper, like the majority of NFL pundits, have given Henderson quite the boost as of late. Generally, Henderson was slated to be a mid-to-late round pick, and now he has been slotted as high as ninth-overall by several NFL draft analysts.

Henderson's rise can easily be explained by the cornerback's extraordinary NFL Combine performance. Not only did Henderson compete through all drills at the combine effortlessly, but he also recorded the second-fastest 40-yard dash time with a time of 4.39 seconds. In comparison to cornerbacks at the NFL Combine in recent history, Henderson is an all-around elite athlete at the position.

As NFL teams begin to finalize their draft-day rosters in anticipation of the influx of new talent, it could cause Henderson to rise even further. Currently, Ohio State University cornerback Jeffery Okudah is slated to be the number one cornerback selected, and while that may not change, teams could get a bit antsy to nab the next man up.