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Jaguars' Top Draft Pick CJ Henderson Not Returning From IR in 2020

CJ Henderson, the No. 9 overall pick from the 2020 NFL Draft, will not play the final few games of his rookie season and will instead spend the rest of the year on IR.

Jacksonville Jaguars rookie cornerback CJ Henderson's first season in the NFL is officially over. 

Henderson has been on injured reserve since Nov. 19 with a groin injury. While the team initially had hopes of him returning to end the season, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said Friday that this would not be the case.

"Actually, we’ve met with the medical staff and we just don’t feel like he’s going to be recovered to be able to play. So, we don’t feel he’ll be back," Marrone said.

The Jaguars selected Henderson with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, making him the second defensive back drafted and the second-highest drafted defensive back in franchise history. He and Jalen Ramsey are the only cornerbacks in franchise history drafted in the top-10.

Henderson appeared in eight games as a rookie, with most of his season being lost to a groin injury that has kept him off the field since Week 10. 

In eight starts, Henderson recorded 36 tackles, one interception, one forced fumble, and six pass deflections. According to Pro Football Reference, Henderson allowed 33 completions on 51 targets (64.7%) for 443 yards, resulting in 8.7 yards allowed per target. Henderson was also credited with four touchdowns allowed. 

While Henderson's rookie year will have ended with an injury, he flashed great potential at times. He had a dominant showing in Week 1 by recording an interception and three pass deflections against the Colts, including a game-winning deflection of a Philip Rivers pass to T.Y. Hilton on fourth-down. As a result, the Jaguars won their only game of the season.

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"I think he started off … I mean, the first game, I was really excited—we were all excited," Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said Friday when asked to evaluate Henderson's rookie season. 

"I thought he played really well, at a really high level. And I think that we’ve seen the athleticism on the field."

But as with any rookie, Henderson's first season in the NFL featured bouts of inconsistency as he adjusted to his NFL surroundings. He had his struggles in certain weeks, such as allowing a Will Fuller touchdown in Week 9 that would go on to be the deciding score. 

With that said, the last time we saw Henderson on the field, we saw him giving Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams fits in Week 10. It was one of his better performances of the year as he recorded a force fumble and pass deflection.

"Then there was a little bit of a stretch there where he was playing probably like a first-year player coming in there. And then really his last game, I thought he played well before the injury. So, I think it’s way too early to really give a whole deal," Marrone said. 

"If he goes out and plays sixteen games like he did the first game, I think you’ve got—he would have an unbelievable year. I think that if you’re injured and you can’t come back, and your availability becomes a factor, then it’s going to be up and down. I think it’s hard to keep becoming a good player when you don’t have the two things that I’ve always talked about: coachability and availability." 

Henderson will enter the offseason as Jacksonville's top cornerback. Now the hope is for him to remain healthy in 2021 and take the next step in his development despite the missed time in 2020.