With the Las Vegas Raiders‘ second and third-round picks, it would be worthwhile to consider a linebacker. While it is an evident need, the Silver and Black were among the worst tackling teams in 2022. Per Pro Football Reference, they missed 69 tackles in 2022; that averages out to roughly four a game. They also only had a middling nine forced fumbles. Linebacker Daiyan Henley out of Washington State has the exact skillset this team was missing last season.
Henley is 6’1″ and 230 lbs., with a long, muscular frame. Coming out of Crenshaw High School, he was just a two-star recruit. Henley, surprisingly, played receiver in Nevada initially before switching to LB in 2019. He redshirted back-to-back years, then transferred to Washington State. Before transferring, he made the All-Mountain West Conference Second Team. Then at Washington State, he was named a Butkus Award finalist and often found himself around the football.
Daiyan Henley is an explosive, hard-hitting, and well-balanced off-ball linebacker. Not only is he an ultra-physical tackler, but he is also a sure one. With 74 tackles, he only missed five and forced three fumbles his senior year, per PFF. That is quite unusual for someone who was just recently playing on offense. As you’d expect, he has some really impressive fluidity and range, which assists him in coverage.
Additionally, he has the length and burst to bring a pass-rush presence. He also has one of the hottest pursuits you’ll see in the class, and his top-end speed is blazing fast. Henley overall has the tools to develop into a phenomenal LB.
Daiyan Henley (#1) is not Fred Warner.
BUT…if there was ever a super athletic, 230lb former receiver turned linebacker prospect that could do some Fred Warner-ish things on a football field as a value pick in the 3rd or maybe 4th round…..it's probably Daiyan Henley! pic.twitter.com/k0bywRkIpD
— Brett Kollmann (@BrettKollmann) February 20, 2023
While extraordinarily physically gifted, he is still relatively raw as a prospect. There is some concern about how he holds up in the box. It almost always must be around him if he wants to beat a blocker. Henley could do better in stack-and-shed situations. Moreover, in coverage, he struggled, giving up a lot of yards. He doesn’t often get enough depth and lacks route instincts. He is also a sixth-year senior, making him a bit older for a developmental prospect.
Where Could The Raiders Draft Him?
Currently, Henley is a consensus early-third-round prospect, and NFL.com has him rated at 6.19. Given that, he could ostensibly fall to the Raiders at pick 70. Even if linebackers start to go early, it may be in Las Vegas’s interest to trade up. He has true second-round value, as he is not far off from having a true impact in all facets of defense. Henley has the type of size-speed combo you bet on in the draft. It would be a remarkable addition if they could land him anywhere in the 60â€“70 range.
*Top Photo: WSU Athletics