They’re not several NFL players selected out of Florida Atlantic University, especially not in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft. But that could change this year as FAU’s Trey Hendrickson has continued to rise on draft boards since last January.
During his last two seasons at FAU, Hendrickson has been one of the most consistent players in Conference-USA. In 2015, Hendrickson tied for second in the FBS in sacks with 13.5. He also recorded 15 tackles for loss and forced five fumbles.
Hendrickson had another excellent season in 2016 as he racked up 51 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. Despite opposing teams paying close attention to him throughout the season, Hendrickson was named the 2016 Conference-USA Defensive Player of the Year. Hendrickson left FAU as the all-time leader in sacks (29), tackles for loss (42) and forced fumbles (eight).
Although the Carolina Panthers signed Julius Peppers and re-signing Charles Johnson and Kawann Short, the team still needs help on their defensive line. With four draft picks in the first three rounds of the draft, the Panthers could look to improve their depth at defensive end, possibly in the third round.
Friday, on a conference call with the media, NFL Network analysts Mike Mayock said he likes Hendrickson as a prospect and believes he would fit in well with the Panthers.
“I’m a Trey Hendrickson fan,” said Mayock. “A, his tape is good. He’s a good football player. He’s done everything right in the process. He’s durable, and he fits the type of scheme that Carolina plays, so I would think absolutely he’d be in consideration in their third round.”
At 6-4, 266 pounds, Hendrickson isn’t the biggest defensive end, but he makes up for that with his pass rushing ability. He has incredible athleticism off the edge, something that is hard to find, especially later in the draft.
At the NFL Combine, Hendrickson ran a 4.65 40-yard dash, which Mayock says is faster than most expected. His 40-yard time was the seventh-best among defensive linemen at the combine and only slightly behind projected No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett from Texas A&M.
He also recorded an impressive 33.5-inch vertical jump at the combine. Mayock says he has Hendrickson going in the third round.
Teams won’t have to worry about Hendrickson’s effort at the next level as he always gave maximum effort while he played at FAU.
Some say durability is the best ability and Hendrickson played in 48 consecutive games for the Owls as he never suffered an injury.
The Panthers line up in a 4-3 defensive scheme and there have been some questions about if Hendrickson can play as a defensive end or as a 3-4 rush end linebacker. Hendrickson didn’t always stand out as a run stopper at FAU, so that could be a potential issue for some clubs.
At the beginning of the draft process, Hendrickson was viewed as a possible six or seventh round selection. After winning the Most Outstanding Defensive Player Award at the East-West Shrine Game along with his play during the Senior Bowl, Hendrickson is on many general manager’s radars. If the Panthers don’t select Hendrickson, the Miami Dolphins could potentially take him with the pick No. 97. of the third round.
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