UM’s Willie Henry: I’m best DL in draft, ‘hands down’

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Willie Henry

Ann Arbor – Former Michigan defensive lineman Willie Henry has no issue telling anyone how good he is, and where he thinks he should be rated heading into next month’s NFL draft.

Henry, who left Michigan with a year of eligibility remaining, participated in pro day at UM on Friday and felt good about his performance. He was invited to the NFL combine last month and only went through drills during pro day.

In what is a deep draft for defensive lineman, the 6-foot-3, 297-pound Henry thinks he is a catch.

“A guy who can play the run and pass well,” Henry said Friday. “I just go out there and show them I’m the best interior, if not the best defensive lineman, in this draft.

“Hopefully my film can speak for itself. I go out here with these workouts and convince these coaches what this kid can do and can be the No. 1 pick overall.”

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper has said Henry could be a first-round selection.

Henry absolutely believes he’s the best defensive lineman in the draft.

“Of course,” he said. “Hands down.”

He’s sure because he said he’s worked so hard every day to put himself in this position.

“So why not go out here and give it the all and want to be No. 1?” Henry said. “That’s my goal.”

Thomas ready to take command of Michigan secondary

Henry said he doesn’t pay attention to draft analysts and their projections. ESPN’s Todd McShay does not have Henry on his latest list of Top 32 draft prospects, and Henry is not on Mel Kiper’s Big Board of the top 25 players, either.

“I kind of just let the cards play out how they’re going to play out,” he said. “I’m just out here trying to get that No. 1 bid. I’m just out here trying to work every day.”

He will be home in Cleveland with his family but said he doesn’t have big plans for draft watching.

Henry ended the season weighing 293 and added four pounds preparing for the combine and pro day. He has no regrets about his decision to leave Michigan. He said Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and his staff wanted him to stay, but told him to make the best decision for him.

It was too difficult to pass up the opportunity, although he said there was a strong pull to stay at Michigan with his teammates.

“I’m not one to be selfish,” said Henry, 17 credits shy of his degree. “Those were some of the things I was fighting with.”

O’Korn has ‘juice’

Henry got a good look at quarterback John O’Korn last fall when O’Korn, sitting out the season after transferring from Houston, ran the scout team. He gave the first-team defense the offensive look of the upcoming opponent.

“Great arm, a guy with a lot of juice,” Henry said. “Seen him take a lot of contact, bring a little contact as a quarterback, so that was exciting. He brings in some experience in that he already played at Houston and did pretty well, so he took charge of the scout team. He’s a natural-born leader out there.”

O’Korn is competing this spring with Shane Morris and Wilton Speight for Michigan’s starting job.