Now we enter our Top 10, and are nearing the end of our countdown.
I think as we begin to reach our finale' we'll likely all be more and more in concurrence, for better or worse.
And with that, we're off....
#10. John Henderson, DT, 2002-2009
The Jaguars made Henderson their first round pick, ninth overall, in the Spring of 2002. It was widely speculated leading into that draft, that then coach Tom Coughlin had reservations about the pick, unsure as of who to pick between Henderson and his University of Tennessee linemate, Albert Haynesworth. Though Haynesworth would go on to have a dominant year or two, for the long haul, "Big John" made Coughlin's choice the right one.
In his rookie season, Henderson worked his way into the starting lineup to begin forming one of the most formidable defensive tackle tandems in the NFL with fellow tackle Marcus Stroud, who the Jags had drafted in the first round the previous year. He started 13 games for the team and appeared in 3 others for the first of what would become a string of five consecutive seasons without missing a game. A rare accomplishment from a position that requires the player to consistently take a lot of pounding on the body. Henderson would complete his rookie season racking up 6.5 sacks, 55 tackles, and a forced fumble. He began to make a name for himself both on the local and national level that season in a game against the Philadelphia Eagles, where the rookie tackle sacked quarterback Donovan McNabb three times in the game. The game made national clip shows both for Henderson's play, and the harassment of McNabb throughout the game being so intense, he threw up on the field before a play, Willie Beaman style.
Henderson began coming into his own as a player in 2003 and '04, starting every game and tallying 9 sacks, 11 passes deflected, 3 forced fumbles, and a combined 134 tackles over the course of the two seasons. His best season as a pro statistically came in '04, and he was rewarded with his first Pro Bowl election. It's no coincidence that as his play began to stand out, the team's defense as a whole began to shine.
Over the next three seasons, as the Jaguars returned to relevance in the NFL post-season picture, Henderson continued to assert himself as one of the premier defensive tackles in the league. He registered 8.5 sacks, 159 tackles, and 2 forced fumbles, and helped ascend the defense to Top 10 status in the league. During this span, that defense was intricate in the team making it's return to the post-season in 2005 and 2007. He performed well in the three playoff games he appeared in, recording a sack in each game of the Jaguars 2007 playoff chase. For his performance in 2006, Henderson was named to his second Pro Bowl, and was named to the NFL All-Pro team by the Associated Press.
In the 2008 off-season, Henderson's linemate Marcus Stroud, was traded to Buffalo. While Henderson was still a very good player, his effort and play appeared to sag with the loss of his good friend. Coach Jack Del Rio called him out in the 2009 Spring workouts for what he felt was Henderson's "faking" of a shoulder injury. Henderson responded to the criticism by informing the local media that he was, "All in!".
Henderson was released the following off-season.
He currently ranks as the Jaguars third all-time leader in sacks with 29, as well as sixth all-time in tackles, with 336. His giant personality and physical stature made him a fan favorite and perhaps his most notable action came not on the field, but off it. During training camp of 2004, Henderson was featured as NFL Films produced a "Hard Knocks Lite" for the NFL Networks' swing at the HBO training camp staple. In his segment, Big John was shown during his pre-game ritual which involved him getting smacked in the face by a Jaguars trainer and Big John erupting into a wild tirade. The scenes became an instant classic among Jaguar fans, and to this day Henderson is still regaled for the ritual. I mean, if that doesn't make you laugh, I'm not sure what will.
I fully expect Big John's name to be placed in the "Pride of the Jaguars" at some point in the future.
The Top-25 List:
#25. Aaron Beasley, CB, 1996-2001
#24. Bryan Barker, P, 1995-2000
#23. Donovin Darius, S, 1998-2006
#22. David Garrard, QB, 2002-2010
#21. Josh Scobee, K, 2004-Present
#20. Kyle Brady, TE, 1999-2006
#19. Kevin Hardy, LB, 1996-2001
#18. Brad Meester, C, 2000-Present
#17. Vince Manuwai, G, 2003-2010
#16. Mike Peterson, LB, 2003-2008
#15. Mike Hollis, K, 1995-2001
#14. Gary Walker, DT, 1999-2001
#13. Daryl Smith, LB, 2004-Present
#12. Leon Searcy, OT, 1996-2000
#11. Tony Brackens, DE, 1996-2004
#10. John Henderson, DT, 2002-2009