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Henderson: "We enjoyed the moment…"

Florida defensive back CJ Henderson, right, covers Missouri wide receiver Jonathan Nance during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, in Columbia, Mo. Florida won 23-6. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

JACKSONVILLE – This moment was memorable for C.J. Henderson.

No, Thursdays night's virtual 2020 NFL Draft wasn't like any draft before it, but Henderson – who the Jaguars selected No. 9 overall in Round 1 – savored it just the same.

He spent the evening surrounded by his parents, his siblings and his agent. And around 9:18, he received a call from General Manager David Caldwell that he was the Jaguars' selection.

"We just enjoyed the moment, and let everything sink in," Henderson said.

In Henderson, who played collegiately at the University of Florida, the Jaguars are getting a player who analysts projected as one of the best two cornerbacks in the draft along with Ohio State corner Jeff Okudah. He had been discussed as a potential Top 10 selection often in recent weeks.

Florida Head Coach Dan Mullen joined Henderson on a videoconference with Jacksonville media shortly after the selection. He congratulated Henderson and told his former player:

"I think that might be the best pick the Jags have made in long, long, long time. I know they're going to be thrilled."

Henderson began playing cornerback as a high school senior. Mullen was asked where Henderson will continue to develop as he matures as a player.

"He's just a perfectionist," Mullen said. "One thing you'll see is he's one of the first ones in and definitely one of the last to leave – working on his skill, working on his technique and working on ways to improve. He's a guy who has a competitive nature and wants to be the absolute best of the best.

"He's going to constantly work on every bit of that technique."

Said Henderson: "I feel like I can work on every aspect of my game. I feel like I'm nowhere near my potential. I haven't reached that."

The Jaguars in recent months traded former Pro Bowl cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye to the Los Angeles Rams and Denver Broncos, respectively. Henderson, who said he counts Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson as an influence, was asked about succeeding the duo.

"I'm ready for it," he said, adding of his skills: "I'm very smart and very athletic. I plan to use that. I work very hard on the field and in the film room as well. I plan to use both of those added on to my athleticism. I plan to dominate."

Henderson said he describes himself "as very reserved."

"People get a misconception that I'm quiet," Henderson said. "But I work hard to earn your respect."

Henderson (6-feet-1, 204 pounds), who forewent his senior season to enter the draft, earned first-team All-Southeastern Conference honors in 2019. He played nine games and made 33 tackles with 11 passes defensed. He then missed the Gators' bowl game to stay healthy and prepare for the draft.

Henderson was named second-team All-SEC as a sophomore, starting all 13 games with 38 tackles, five for loss, three sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles. He started five games with 11 appearances in 2017 and earned freshman All-SEC honors. He registered 22 tackles and four interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns.

Henderson said he spoke to the Jaguars three times leading to the draft.

"They told me great things and felt great about me," he said. "They gave me an opportunity. I feel like I bring a lot. It feels great. I've heard great things about their defense. I plan on learning more about it and adding a spark to it."

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