High School and College Career
Daiyan Henley, from Crenshaw High School, was a 2-star recruit and joined the University of Nevada. He saw little action in his freshman year and suffered a season-ending injury in his second year.
In his junior year, Henley decided to make a position switch to LB. This decision turned out to be the right move as he contributed to his team’s efforts in nine games and made 32 tackles and 8 assisted tackles. In addition, he produced 7 total pressures, which included 6 QB hurries and a QB hit.
He played 676 snaps in his senior season. Henley made 79 tackles and was excellent in coverage and managed to make one pass breakup, 4 interceptions, and had a phenomenal QB rating when targeted of only 39.0. As a pass rusher, he impressed with 10 total pressures, including 8 QB hurries and 2 QB hits.
After the conclusion of the 2021 season, Henley transferred to Washington State for his fifth and final year of eligibility. It was here that Henley produced his best year yet. He played 12 games and took part in 667 snaps. He made 74 tackles, one pass breakup and one interception, but his QB rating when targeted rose to 101.8. However, as a pass rusher, he continued to impress with 18 total pressures, including 10 QB hurries, 3 QB hits, and 5 sacks.
Daiyan Henley Scouting Report Introduction
Washington State linebacker Diayan Henley is a player to watch as a developmental prospect for the 2023 NFL Draft. Henley’s story is a unique case study, as he was part of a massive influx of transfer portal talent for the 2022 season. Henley quickly carved out a role as a defensive chess piece that was moved around to maximize his impact.
As a 2-star recruit, Henley originally committed to Nevada back in 2017 and spent his first few seasons on the offensive side of the ball as a wide receiver, posting 17 receptions for 232 yards and 3 touchdowns across his first two seasons with the Wolfpack. He then transitioned to the defensive side of the football full-time and has since shown impressive skills as both a run defender and pass rusher.
Henley’s impressive nose for the football and the ability to consistently make the big play when his team needed it most make him a standout prospect for the next level. However, Henley’s rawness and inexperience in certain areas of his game make him a player with some limitations. For example, he struggles greatly in the box as a stack defender, often getting completely washed out of a gap. This may limit his value for teams that want their inside linebackers to offer physicality and plug gaps.
Despite these limitations, Henley’s physical skills and ample developmental upside make him a player to watch. He is fast to flow to the football with strong rally skills in the open field and has dynamic first-step twitch that allows him to penetrate gaps when mugged up onto linemen. Additionally, his ball skills when playing in coverage are considered a strength, as evidenced by his interception late in the season that sealed a win for his team.
Another aspect that makes Henley an interesting hybrid option is his aggression to trigger forward, which could allow him to win as a pass rusher off the edge. This would be particularly effective if he were playing a hybrid role tailored to utilize him as a designated rusher. Henley’s explosive finishing ability would also help him to compensate for his modest size as a second-level/box defender.
Ultimately, while expectations for Henley should be tempered to some degree, his raw physical skills and ample developmental upside make him a player with a lot of potential. He is a player who can man the special teams units and earn his 53-man roster spot in the short-term, while also developing his game and becoming a standout linebacker in the long-term.
Daiyan Henley has all the makings of a top-tier sideline-to-sideline playmaker, with remarkable athleticism and solid build. Boasting unexpectedly long arms for his height, Henley has impressed coaches and scouts alike with his ability to keep up with any reciever. His coverage skills are noteworthy, particularly in zone coverage. Even intermediate routes for wide receivers are no match for his talent.
Henley’s tackling prowess is unmatched. He is best suited as a weakside linebacker, but can effortlessly handle the strong side and match up well against tight ends.
Special teams are another arena where Henley excels, adding to his value to any team.
Despite some stiffness, Henley is a solid open-field tackler, showcasing an impressive effort to catch up to misdirection plays. He’s at his best in coverage when he moves fluidly, turning and running with tight ends, or mirroring backs coming out of the backfield.
Henley’s experience in the linebacker position is limited, having only played there for three years, and as a result, he lacks the natural instincts that are typically honed through years of experience. He has also displayed moments where he’s slow to react to plays he doesn’t anticipate, highlighting a need for improvement in basic play recognition skills.
Furthermore, Henley’s size is a disadvantage, His smaller size makes it difficult for him to excel as a short-range run defender, as he needs to be covered up by other defenders.
In terms of pass rushing, Henley’s physical limitations hinder him in consistently beating the offensive line. Even if he improves his hand usage, he lacks the ideal length needed to effectively pressure quarterbacks from the edge. Instead, he’s limited to shooting through gaps to make sacks.
Overall, while Henley has shown promise as a college player, his limited experience and physical limitations present challenges in his transition to the professional level.
Daiyan Henley is our 97th prospect on our draft big board.