About a week after announcing All-SEC center Damian Jones will return next season, Vanderbilt confirmed his backup will also be back for another year.Fifth-year senior Josh Henderson, a 6-foot-11 center, has been granted a sixth year with the Commodores by the NCAA due to medical hardship from injuries that severely limited two of his previous seasons.Vanderbilt’s athletic communications office confirmed the NCAA’s ruling on Wednesday.Henderson will return for the 2015-16 season for his final year of eligibility, meaning Vanderbilt will bring back eight of its top nine players from one of the nation’s youngest rosters.Henderson played in 24 games last season with two starts. He averaged 2.2 points, 1.2 rebounds and 7.3 minutes, mostly providing brief breaks for Jones, who will put off his NBA Draft availability for at least one more year.In his career, Henderson has played 72 games. His most court time came in 2012-13, when he started in 21 games. But that was sandwiched between injuries during his redshirt freshman (foot) and junior (knee) seasons, which limited him to only 15 games played combined.Vanderbilt will have several options in the post next season. Jones and Henderson can both play center. Versatile 7-footer Luke Kornet returns, and 6-6 Jeff Roberson could spend time at both small forward and power forward.Plus, Vanderbilt’s top 25 recruiting class features a pair of lauded big men in 6-11 Djery Baptiste and 6-9 Samir Sehic to add to a team that went 21-14 last season and advanced to the NIT quarterfinal.Reach Adam Sparks at 615-259-8010 and on Twitter @AdamSparks.Vanderbilt center Josh Henderson has been granted a sixth year with the Commodores by the NCAA due to medical hardship.
The Ravens failed to make the postseason for the fourth time in five years, but where exactly did their players stack up across the NFL in 2017?Whether it’s discussing the Pro Bowl or picking postseason awards, media and fans spend much time debating where players rank at each position, but few put in the necessary time and effort to watch every player on every team extensively enough to develop any kind of an authoritative opinion.Truthfully, how many times did you closely watch the offensive line of the Los Angeles Chargers this season? What about the Detroit Lions linebackers or the Miami Dolphins cornerbacks?That’s why I can appreciate projects such as Bleacher Report’s NFL1000 and the grading efforts of Pro Football Focus. Of course, neither should be viewed as the gospel of evaluation and each is subjective, but I respect the exhaustive effort to grade players across the league when so many of us watch only one team or one division on any kind of a consistent basis. It’s important to note that the following PFF rankings are where the player stood at the conclusion of the regular season.Below is a look at where Ravens tight ends ranked across the league, according to those outlets:Running backs Defensive linemenBenjamin Watson2017 offensive snap count: 699 NFL1000 ranking: 7th PFF ranking: 55th Skinny: The 37-year-old led Baltimore in receptions returning from last year’s Achilles injury, but he gained just 8.6 yards per catch and nearly a third of his 522 receiving yards came against Cleveland. His true value falls somewhere between these two rankings, but the free agent is considering retirement.Nick Boyle2017 offensive snap count: 696NFL1000 ranking: 34thPFF ranking: 27thSkinny: Boyle became a linchpin blocker for Greg Roman’s diverse run-game schemes, but he is limited as a receiver, making him no better than a solid No. 2 tight end. The 2015 fifth-round pick caught a career-high 28 passes, but a 7.3 yards per catch average reflects his lack of speed.Maxx Williams 2017 offensive snap count: 315 NFL1000 ranking: 71stPFF ranking: 24th Skinny: Injuries have derailed the former second-round pick’s career as he was little more than a glorified fullback, catching 15 passes for 86 yards and a touchdown in 11 games. Breshad Perriman headlines the painful shortcomings of the 2015 draft, but Williams has been nearly as disappointing.Vince Mayle 2017 offensive snap count: 21 NFL1000 ranking: n/aPFF ranking: n/a Skinny: The former wide receiver was a solid special-teams contributor, but he didn’t catch a pass and carried the ball twice all season, scoring a touchdown in Oakland. Given his lack of opportunity despite the position needing more speed, Mayle can’t be viewed as anything more than organizational depth.2018 positional outlookMy big question after Dennis Pitta’s hip injury last spring was whether the Ravens had real depth or only inventory at tight end, and the latter proved to be true by season’s end. Darren Waller’s suspension and Crockett Gillmore’s season-ending knee injury were unfortunate developments, but neither was surprising when considering their respective histories. Watson was a good story coming back from a major injury and has tremendous character, but the veteran leading the Ravens in catches says all you need to know about the state of this passing game. Boyle is a good blocking tight end, but Williams lacks the speed and athleticism to be a difference-maker at the position like the Ravens envisioned when they traded up to draft him three years ago. One of the major priorities of the offseason must be to add a tight end with some game-changing ability, whether it’s through the draft, free agency, or a trade.