Mario Henderson, the 24-year-old offensive left tackle of the Oakland Raiders, attended school at Florida State. Mario was used early at Florida State as a TE and a RT, was a redshirt junior, starting only two games his junior year at the left tackle position.
It was not until Mario's senior year at Florida State he would start 13 games at left tackle. This was one of the major reasons teams in the NFL did not have Mario high on the Draft Boards. The young left tackle did not have enough work in College.
Al Davis along with one of the best player personnel men in the NFL, the Raiders Jon Kingdon saw something in Mario Hederson that could not be taught. At 6'7", 310 lbs this big man had something Al Davis and the Raiders have always put a premium on, size and athletisism.
Mario was smart, had good feet and flexibility, size and posessed a terrific upside with a few years of development. The Raiders saw that Mario was quick to get his hands into a defender. He adjusted in pass protection and controlled opponents at the point.
Always keeping his feet moving and blocked with leverage, he showed the ability to slide laterally and was very quick out of his stance to help him with fast pass rushers. Mario had all the tools to become a very good left tackle.
Al Davis traded the Raiders' 2007 seventh round pick and the next year's third round pick to New England for the Patriots' 2007 third round pick, the 91st pick in the draft.
This did not make much sense for New England per the value chart used in the NFL, and in my opinion the Raiders came out on top on this one. The pick received from New England was used to draft Mario Henderson.
It has not been easy for Mario, with coach Kiffin all over him in 2008 over his play at practice. But Mario used all the crap being put on him as motivation to make himself better. Mario is a film nut and has all the games he plays in on DVD and carries them with him to review his play and make himself better.
Mario started five games for the Raiders at left tackle late last year and showed that he is starting to reach his potential. Going up against some of the best pass rushers in the NFL during those five games. You did not hear their names all game long with Mario not giving up a sack.
In this, Mario's third year with the Raiders, all indications from camp are that Mario Henderson will be the Raiders left tackle in 2009. If Mario starts this year at left tackle it will be a very important year for him and the Raiders.
I believe that this will be Mario's break out year as he settles in at a position that has been a problem for the Raiders for a few years now.
In today's microwave, have to have it now, and cookie cutter world, Al Davis still operates his team as the pure football man that he has always been. Finding and identifying talent others may not see or might miss is his forte. He also gives that talent the time to develop to its full potential.
Many will laugh over the above statement as bad as the Raiders have been the last few years. But make no mistake about it, this Raiders team is loaded with a bunch of young talent. And they all have the size and speed that the Raiders are always looking for.
Mario Henderson has all the tools he needs to become a very good left tackle. And I believe that Mario is going to be a fixture on the Raider line for years to come.
J Russ and Mario came into the NFL together and have been developing together as players. People tend to forget that this is a very young Oakland Raiders team with J Russ only 23-years old. This team is loaded with lots of young talent at many positions.
I love the games but watching this young team being put together. Watching the players grow and develop into the positions and become a team is exciting for me to watch.
In my profile I list I am a huge Raider fan, and many will say that I am drinking the kool aid. But this young Raider team as being built is going to do some damage in the NFL in years to come.
It took awhile for the Raiders to develop Nnamdi and look at the type player he has become. Mario Henderson has everything he needs to become the same type quality player for the Raiders and 2009 is going to be Mario Henderson's coming out party.
Many laughed when I wrote my article (prior to the 2009 Draft) on the Raiders needing to Draft Michael Mitchell at safety. Many laughed when I had Nnamdi's back early on as he was developed and people questioned the draft pick.
Down the road as Mario Henderson reaches his Pro Bowl potential at left tackle for the Raiders. Just like the Michael Mitchell scoop, remember you read about it here first. The main media writes on the Raiders just to right. They focus on anything and everything negative and never see the cream before it's time.
They are and have been doing this with Russell, Henderson and now DHB and Mike Mitchell. They are as blind men, not knowing when the sun will shine but they can give you the time once it comes up. With me, I will try and put you on to a new potential Raider star before they become stars.
Will I be right about Mario?, we will find out in short order as the young man is coming into his own. And with regards to my article on why the Raiders needed to draft Michael Mitchell that I wrote the day prior to the draft?
You are all about to see the why over the next few years as Mike Mitchell as well as Mario Henderson help to put the Raider back into Oakland Raiders football.