Daiyan Henley 2023 NFL Draft profile: Scout report for the Washington State LB
Daiyan Henley: 6’1”, 220 pounds.
A pretty unknown two-star recruit in 2017, Daiyan Henley spent five years at Nevada, where for the first three, he was basically a designated special teamer. He saw more action in 2020 and then really made noise the following season, recording 94 tackles, two for loss, four interceptions, passes deflected and fumbles recovered each.
Thanks to a redshirt and the COVID exception, he got a chance to prove himself for a Power-Five program at Wazzu, where he racked up 106 total stops, 12 for loss, four sacks, one pick, three fumbles forced and two more recovered. That earned him first-team All-Pac-12 accolades.
Daiyan Henley scout report: Strengths
+ Good girth throughout his frame and can stack up blockers on the move to great effect, actively engaging contact,. You see him work off contact on an angle well, to still get his hands on the ball and stop momentum.
+ Shows some twitch and short-area agility to navigate around traffic and flattening after going underneath blocks.
+ Packs a sudden dip of the outside shoulder when linemen or tight-ends try to block down on him, allowing him to slip around and run down the ball-carrier.
+ You really like the way Henley floats down the line in the zone run game, whilst keeping his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage.
+ When trailing pulling guards, he can beat those guys to the spot and blow through their shoulder on like GT power, to funnel the ball back inside.
+ His chase speed across the field or running down fly sweeps is very impressive. You see him run down guys like Heisman trophy winner Caleb Williams in space looking at their ’22 matchup vs. USC.
+ He rarely allows opponents to pin him away from the action, using the near-arm as a window wiper, so he can’t be grabbed.
+ Very strong tackler, who stuffs the momentum of ball-carriers typically when meeting them head-up, while flipping them over if he catches them on an angle.
+ Will alligator-roll or lasso guys to the ground in space and rarely misses any key stops (missed a miniscule five of 111 attempts this past season).
+ Arguably has the best movement skills as a coverage backer in this class. This was also apparent at the combine, where all his change-of-direction stuff was super tight, not taking any unnecessary steps or having any delay on those (along with being above-average in all the testing).
+ I thought with the Cougars, what Henley did in coverage had a lot more purpose, whether it’s acting like a quasi-spy or drifting underneath patterns, to shrink those windows for the QB.
+ Does well to pick off crossers as a hook-defender and is quick to drive up on stuff in the flats or shut down backs hooking up over the middle, while being very patient to not let that foot-fake him in one-on-one tackling situations.
+ Displays some impressive mobility to redirect vs. boot action and take away lay-ups or chase down the QB.
+ Had some great moments in coverage one-on-one with the running backs during Senior Bowl week, perfectly driving on, undercutting and reaching around for clean PBUs.
+ Because of how easily he gains ground vertically, you can put him guy anywhere on the line of scrimmage and bail him out into those hook-to-flat areas.
+ Shows real skills as a pass-rusher, being able to execute hand swipes, bend and flatten to the quarterback (he wasn’t asked to blitz a ton, but he won on 24.6% of his rushes, according to PFF).
+ Henley’s closing burst was used on some cross-dog blitzes and wide loops as part of Wazzu’s pressure packages, typically when walked down over the center.
Daiyan Henley scout report: Weaknesses
– Seemed like a very reactionary player at Nevada and I still wouldn’t describe him as somebody who methodically reads through his keys to lead him to the football.
– Gets his eyes trapped in the backfield fairly regularly and can be caught off guard by misdirection.
– Not somebody you want to stack-and-shed bigger bodies and may be a pure WILL in some schemes around the league.
– While the movement skills are all there seemingly to be an asset in man-coverage, we have very limited reps to evaluate him off. He wasn’t asked to actively squeeze down windows in zone shells.
Daiyan Henley scout report: Grade
After just laying my eyes on Daiyan Henley initially, the first thing I was worried about was seeing that he’s like a super super-senior. Yet, when I looked at the actual age, I realized that he won’t turn 24 until mid-way through his rookie season.
Once I got past that, I was wondering how he was behind a bunch of other names at the position on consensus boards, who he thankfully seems to have risen above recently.
He’ll play in the 225-pound range most likely, but the way he can reduce his surface area and make an impact against the run makes him a great fit on the weak-side if you have more of a thumper at MIKE. His movement skills as a coverage defender make him a highly intriguing prospect.
To me, Daiyan Henley just needs to continue working on reading his keys and not zeroing in on what he sees in the backfield.
Grade: Second round
You might like other 2023 NFL Draft Scouting Reports: Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa, Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas, Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson, Zach Charbonnet, RB, UCLA, Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas, Eric Gray, RB, Oklahoma.
Feel free to head over to halilsrealfootballtalk.com for all my draft breakdowns and check out my YouTube channel for even more NFL content!