Chargers draft grade for Daiyan Henley: C+
Daiyan Henley is a prospect that is easy to fall in love with and in typical draft fashion, a lot of Chargers fans quickly talked themselves into Henley when he was selected in the third round. That happens with every single pick and every single fanbase, though. We all want these players to succeed so we talk ourselves into the best possible scenario.
The Henley selection also made a lot more sense when it was revealed later in the night that the team would not be picking up Kenneth Murray's fifth-year option. That was expected, but the confirmation from the team justified why they took a linebacker in the third round.
Murray is likely going to leave after the 2023 season and there is a good chance that Eric Kendricks is just a one-year option. Thus, the Chargers needed someone to step in and play after 2023 so it makes sense to draft someone now that can learn the defense before becoming a starter in 2024.
While it all makes sense, the Chargers' flawed roster building and long-term planning at the linebacker position don't make the pick better. That doesn't make it a bad pick, but just because they put themselves in a corner at linebacker doesn't mean that reaching for a linebacker (in terms of positional value) is suddenly a better move.
Henley is the typical Tom Telesco linebacker. He is very athletic and has a point-and-shoot trigger that could become very valuable at the NFL level. However, as we have learned with Murray, that does not guarantee success. Henley has similar concerns with his play recognition and ability in pass coverage that Murray had. It will be up to the Chargers to coach him up.
Best-case scenario: NFL coaching elevates Henley's play recognition skills and ability in pass coverage. He develops into a true three-down linebacker that is especially valuable in run defense with his athleticism and ability to fire at ball carriers.
Worst-case scenario: Henley's struggles in play recognition and pass coverage continue and he ends up being a very athletic linebacker that has moments of really productive play, but his mistakes outweigh the athleticism (similar to Murray).