Daiyan Henley, LB
School: Washington State University | Conference: Pacific 12 Conference
College Experience: Redshirt Senior | Age: 23 (Week 1)
Height / Weight: 6’1” / 230 lbs
Projected Draft Status: Mid 3rd round-4th round
Player Comparison: Kwon Alexander
Daiyan Henley has had a speckled career since coming to the Nevada Wolfpack from Crenshaw High School (Ca.) as a two-star quarterback recruit. Between high school and his collegiate career, Henley lined up at QB, WR, EDGE, LB, safety, nickel, and even kick returner. Daiyan Henley transferred to the Washington State Cougars in his final season.
In his final two seasons with the Cougars and Wolfpack, Henley had his best years in his collegiate career. He earned Second Team All-Mountain West in 2021. In 2022, Henley earned First-Team All-Pac-12 Defense, Second-Team All-Pac-12 Special Teams, and was a Butkus Award Finalist, given to the nation’s best linebacker.
What teams should expect from Daiyan Henley is a raw linebacker prospect with an assortment of skills from past positions. Scouts believe he works best in a zone-run or blitz-heavy scheme. He also has significant playing time on special teams.
- Above-average athleticism
- Fluid hips to keep up in man coverage against RBs and TEs
- Plays with hustle
- Great sideline-to-sideline speed.
- Quick and able to snuff out screens and outside runs.
- Explosive finisher. Leads to forced fumbles.
- Able to sink his hips and track the ball in coverage (5 career interceptions).
- Relatively new to playing middle linebacker compared to draft peers.
- Inconsistent reading play flows and recognizing keys.
- He will turn 24 during his first season.
- Struggles inside the box as a stack defender, unable to shake off blocks.
- Tends to over-pursue against the run, leading to opening cutback lanes.
Let’s See His Work
Daiyan Henley number is #1 (Washington State)
Wazzu LB Daiyan Henley on how his background as a WR helps him identify his keys in coverage. pic.twitter.com/luC6MDTaOw— Ryan Fowler (@_RyanFowler_) March 1, 2023
Daiyan Henley - Washington State— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) February 21, 2023
6007 230 33” Arms
Love how he triggers downhill and can play off/around OL - yet can glide/scrape laterally very well and run SL to SL. ‘Tough + Smooth Mover’ good combo!
Former Nevada WR. Played both sides in 2019. 630 Special Teams snaps pic.twitter.com/v8aT4JF0nW
How Will He Fit On The Team
Washington lacks talent and depth at middle linebacker. The front office will be turning towards free agency and the draft for a solution. If an inside linebacker is signed in free agency, the Commanders may look to draft a linebacker to supplement the position in late Day 2 or early Day 3.
It remains to be seen whether Rivera, Del Rio, and the other defensive coaches feel Henley can fit and is worth the development as an older than usual linebacker prospect. Henley provides plenty of physical upside traits that his other draft peers lack in his draft tier. He could step in as an immediate special teams contributor. He also has the man coverage and sideline to sideline ability the defense needs. However, the negatives could limit how much playing time Henley sees in his first season. While the physical upside is there, Henley should be at most expected to be a rotational role player. His odds of becoming a starter is dependent on how well he takes to coaching.