American Football

Senior Bowl Interview: LB Daiyan Henley 


COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 08 Washington State at USC
Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Will the Browns draft a linebacker? 

The Reese’s Senior Bowl is an important aspect of the players who will participate in this prestigious All-Star game. Having a good practice week against the best at their position can help an athlete elevate his draft status as much as two rounds.

Henley was named First Team All-Pac 12 in final season. He had 106 total tackles during this season along with four sacks, one interception, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and 12 tackles for loss. He runs a 4.55 40.

Here is a player that fits the position group the Cleveland Browns are looking to add a body to their roster in order to help them in the coming season. Henley had a sensational week at the Senior Bowl.

LB Daiyan Henley – Washington State

6’-2”, 232 pounds

Projected round: 4

Browns pick #111

DBN: What is being at the Senior Bowl like?

Henley: I am around a lot of talent, so it’s amazing to be here and be included. To try to stand out and do so in just a few days is what I want. And then after this is the Combine and my Pro Day. I am not at the finish line, I am at the starting point actually. I am happy to be here and compete against all this talent.

DBN: You were a receiver in high school and were recruited as such. Then you went to Nevada and played receiver for two seasons before going to play safety a year and finally settled in at linebacker. How did the other positions prepare you for your current position?

Henley: Well first things first – wide receiver vs. linebacker. That’s little guy, big guy. I was that little guy thinking I was faster than anybody else where you are supposed to escape contact. But that big guy mentality sneaks in because I love contact. I would take a hit just to get one more yard. But when I transitioned to safety, I realized I would much better give contact than get the contact.

DBN: With you having played both sides of the ball, what are the main differences in playing offense versus defense?

Henley: Defense takes a mental fortitude because on offense people are reacting to you. On defense, not only do you have to react, but you are anticipating movements. It’s a different kind of vibe on defense.

DBN: Because you played receiver for so many years, how has this helped you with playing linebacker and the coverage aspects?

Henley: Playing that position gives me that mentality in coverage that my opponent goes into that route may give me some sort of fake to get me to move another direction. But I know those moves which give me an edge. Having the athleticism to have played so many different positions, my hips are a little bit looser than the average linebacker. I want to make I am smooth in the transition.

DBN: You had to put on weight in order to transition from receiver to safety and now linebacker. Was this a natural gradual process or intentional?

Henley: That is just genetics. I gotta give my parents some love because I grew up eating whatever. As many nutritionists as I have had, there wasn’t one specific diet I was on. From 190 as a receiver, I just progressively gained 5 to 10 pounds. So when I lined up at nickel as a safety, that made me about 220. Then 227 to the 230 I am now.

DBN: What do you want to prove during this Senior Bowl week?

Henley: I want to show I can play with anybody, play with the big boys. The biggest thing for me is to show effort by being around the ball all day.

NCAA Football: Washington State at Southern California
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

DBN: What is the difference playing defense in college than in the pro ranks?

Henley: In college, it’s all about getting your guy down. But the emphasis with these NFL coaches is turnovers. We talk about taking the ball away more than we talk about tackling. I think tackling is assumed at this point. Being here in an All-Star game, you should know how tackle, you should know how to get a guy down. It’s like a lost art to take the ball away. Learning to wrap and punch.

DBN: What are your strengths?

Henley: I am an every-down linebacker. The athleticism that I can do everything on the field.

DBN: What is it like being thrown into a roster with guys you have never played with before?

Henley: You got to understand that everyone here wants the same thing I do. In order to be our best, we have to work together in a game that we love. We are all working with the same goal and the same mindset that you want it to work. And if you are willing to work, you are willing to cooperate.

DBN: What does being on an All-Star squad mean to you?

Henley: We are all the best from our schools coming to be the best here. You assume that all the guys here study film the same way if not better.

DBN: You are no longer a college guy. How do you practice like a pro?

Henley: Practicing like a pro is knowing the tempo and keep yourself healthy. We will soon be making money for our bodies.

Barry Shuck is at the Reese’s Senior Bowl this week gathering interviews and providing coverage for Browns fans

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