Over the past few months, numerous Pitt football players have been preparing for the 2018 NFL draft, which will be held from April 26th through April 28th. To learn more about their journeys, Pittsburgh Sports Now has reached out to some of the players who may hear their names called on draft weekend.
Our first interview was with Quadree Henderson, Pitt’s versatile wide receiver and All-American returnman who declared for the NFL following his junior season.
PSN: You declared for the NFL following your junior season, which came as a bit of a surprise to some. There are many fans who believed that returning for your senior year would serve you better in the long run. Where, and with whom, have you been training to prove to any doubters that declaring early was the correct decision?
QH: I was training down in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with a guy by the name of Matthew Gates. While I was down there, I was working on speed and stuff. Every Wednesday and Friday, I was working with Anquan Boldin. [Chad] Ochocinco came through a few times. I was perfecting my craft at wide receiver. But I was working with Anquan Boldin down there in Fort Lauderdale – one of the best to ever do it.
PSN: Can you describe your training regimen? What have you been doing to prepare yourself for pre-draft testing?
QH: My training regimen, it was a lot of speed work. We did a lot of the combine drills; the L drill, short shuttles, 40 [yard dash], vert, and stuff like that. We did that Monday through Saturday, so you know we’re going to work six times out of seven times a week, twice a day. I was really down there going to work with Matthew Gates. They have great numbers from NFL combines over the past. I told my agent I wanted to go down there to get the best numbers, and that’s just what I did. I worked my butt off. Like I said, I worked every Wednesday and Friday with Anquan Boldin just cleaning up route running, getting in and out of breaks, and getting rid of the little tendencies that every receiver has, whether they know it or not. But just working with Anquan Bolding, learning just from him, really took me a long way.
PSN: At the NFL combine, you ran a 4.5 40-yard dash, which seemed somewhat slow for one of the most explosive returnmen in college football history. At Pitt’s pro day, you lowered that time to a much more impressive 4.4. How were you able to improve your 40 time by such a significant margin in what was a rather short amount of time?
QH: I don’t really think like I improved it. I think it was just the lasers. You know, if you’re not really a track guy … running track all your life, it’s really over for you trying to get to like the 4.3’s, 4.4’s, unless you really perfect your craft. I ran a 4.5 at the combine and I was kind of surprised; I never ran a 4.5 in my life. When I went to my pro day, the fastest time I heard was a 4.37 – somebody Tweeted that out, so an official 4.37 40. I was much happier with that time, because you know, I’ve never ran a 4.5 in my life.
PSN: Overall, how would you assess your combine and pro day performances?
QH: I would grade them really well. I think I did well on all of my drills. I think I did really good at both the combine and the pro day.
PSN: NFL teams undoubtedly have their eyes on Quadree Henderson, the All-American returnman. But what about Quadree Henderson, the receiver? Have you received NFL feedback regarding how you will fit into NFL offenses at receiver?
QH: I’ve been getting a little bit of feedback … I’m a very versatile guy, so I can go out and play outside, come in and play inside, also go back and play running back. It’s really just how my offensive coordinator and team need me. They’re going to put the ball in my hands in any way possible.
PSN: What teams have you been in contact with so far?
QH: I’ve been in contact with the Giants, the Colts, the 49ers, the Browns and the Eagles.
PSN: What is the one area in which you have improved the most throughout this process?
QH: I’d say the one area I’ve improved the most throughout the process is getting in and out of my breaks faster as a receiver. I can catch the ball and catch it away from my body, but just cleaning out the top of my routes.
PSN: Has there been a mentor, or perhaps a person of support, who deserves credit for helping you throughout the pre-draft process?
QH: I’d say my mom and my dad. They’ve supported me since day one when I first stepped on a field at the age of five, so I give more credit to them.
PSN: I have read various projections for where you may land during the draft, from as early as the 5th round, to as late as an undrafted free agent signing. Have you received any feedback, perhaps from NFL scouts, as to where you may be drafted?
QH: I haven’t received any feedback, but what I’m seeing, anywhere between the third and the seventh round. It’s all speculation, so I don’t know where I’m going to go on draft day. I just need the opportunity to, you know, show other people that I can really play at the next level.
PSN: What will you be doing for the draft? Do you have any plans?
QH: I’ll be watching the draft at my high school. I invited a couple of people, and I’ll be watching the draft at my high school in the auditorium.
PSN: How would you describe the draft process? Has it been what you expected it to be?
QH: It’s been everything I expected it to be. You can’t rush the draft process, you know? You’ve got to be patient like everybody else. That’s just what I’m doing – you can’t rush time. I’m sitting back, still working out, keeping my mind off the draft, and when my draft pick comes around, that’s when I’ll be really locked into it. But the process has been everything I expected it to be.