In the 2023 NFL Draft interior offensive line class, Arizona State G LaDarius Henderson is a prospect who may deserve more hype with his scouting report. The class is wide open on the surface, and Henderson has the high-end physical tools to command early-round capital. Here’s what he brings.
LaDarius Henderson NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Offensive Guard
- School: Arizona State
- Current Year: Senior
- Height/Weight: 6’5″, 310 pounds
Henderson is one of the most exciting 2023 NFL Draft iOL prospects on tape, and he also has one of the most intriguing backgrounds in the class. Despite being a senior, Henderson will be just 21 years old through most of his rookie season, if he declares.
With Henderson, there’s a unique mix of youth, experience, and also inexperience — oddly enough. Henderson didn’t even start playing football until his junior year of high school. As a senior, he quickly morphed into a lockdown offensive tackle, allowing just one sack in his final season. A late start amounted to a mere three-star billing as a recruit, but Henderson still generated interest from Power Five schools — one of them being Arizona State.
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Henderson committed to the Sun Devils in June of 2018 and signed his letter of intent later that year. At Arizona State, he wasted no time making an impact. As a true freshman, despite being in just his third year of football overall, Henderson started nine games at left tackle. He then swapped between tackle and guard in 2020 before starting all 13 games at left guard in 2021.
Now, even with over two dozen total games of starting experience at guard and tackle, there’s a feeling that Henderson is still ramping up as a 2023 NFL Draft prospect, and that’s an exciting thought. Let’s discuss where he stands right now and how high his ceiling is.
LaDarius Henderson Scouting Report
Henderson, at times, falls under the radar in the 2023 NFL Draft discussion. But the Arizona State G has the kind of physical upside that NFL teams routinely bank on in the early rounds.
There might not be an offensive guard prospect with a more exciting blend of physical tools than Henderson. At 6’5″, 310 pounds, Henderson has good height and above-average overall mass. But his chief defining measurable is his length. He has quantifiably elite length, with arms that measure safely over 35″ long.
Especially on the interior, Henderson’s length can be an overwhelming conduit for force at contact. But Henderson supplements that length with near-elite explosiveness and linear athleticism. He’s an extremely explosive athlete who surges off the line and into contact with dangerous momentum, and he also has the lateral explosiveness to get outside the 3-tech on running plays.
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Henderson’s initial explosiveness is an asset, but the Arizona State G also has good range moving upfield. He covers ground quickly with his initial burst and long, powerful strides. Additionally, he has enough agility to transition from lateral to vertical motion efficiently, and divert course upfield after pulling. He’s an energetic mover with foot speed and snappy athleticism off the snap. And while he’s not elite as a lateral mover, he shows glimpses of excellent control, using his explosiveness to get upfield and solid change of direction to adjust blocking angles.
With his combination of elite explosiveness and length, Henderson has quantifiably elite overall power capacity. With that combined mobility and length, the Arizona State G can steamroll static defenders in space and bulldoze opponents out of running paths. He’s also able to knock defenders off-balance with very little exertion and effort, and he has quantifiably elite knock-back power as well. Henderson can channel brutal amounts of power with his lower body and length. Furthermore, he’s able to torque defenders violently after latching, wrenching them off-balance.
When latched, Henderson has shown he has the grip strength to maintain anchors amidst resistance with a stable base. There are also glimpses of solid core strength when anchored and battling resistance. When anchored, it’s important for Henderson to maintain proper leverage. That’s an area he can improve in. But even there, he has shown he can acquire leverage, get under his opponents’ pads, and displace with active leg drive. He’s also flashed the ability to play with controlled lean past his center of gravity and maintain positioning while protecting his torso.
While he is a bit stiff and upright at times, Henderson does have enough hip flexibility to rotate around on reach blocks and seal off backside defenders. He can rotate his base and correct his alignment with impressive quickness. Moreover, Henderson flashes good change-of-direction and recovery athleticism for his size, and can swivel around after surging upfield and encase defenders against the line. When swiveling around, he shows off impressive freedom, and he can use quick rotations to aid power exertions and lock out opponents.
As a hand fighter, Henderson’s length naturally grants him high upside. But his hands are also amped-up and urgent. He can quickly load up and exert full power at contact — effectively bending his elbows to load his hands, then violently extending and latching under his opponent’s pads. Henderson still has room to refine his hand usage, but his length alone can make it difficult for defenders to get inside his frame.
Henderson’s foot speed serves as a great foundational piece in pass protection. With that foot speed, the Arizona State G can quickly recover positioning as a pass protector. But beyond that, he’s also flashed the ability to keep a wide base and keep his hands tight, corralling defenders within his frame. Additionally, he can roll back a uniform base to absorb and stymy power rushes, often using his length to keep his chest clean.
As far as assignments go, Henderson is fairly reliable with his intent on plays. He’s shown he can pin defenders inside before stacking blocks to the second level in the running game. He can drag adjacent defenders with his length while moving upfield, chipping and assisting teammates. And as a pass protector, he flashes the ability to maintain awareness of delayed stunts and keep his eyes up and alert in the middle of the field as an aggressive, proactive help blocker.
That aggression isn’t unique to Henderson’s help-blocking reps. Rather, it’s a defining characteristic of his game. Henderson is an exceedingly high-energy blocker who lays it all on the line with elite physicality and whose energy alone can be intimidating. He’ll maul defenders into the turf if given the opportunity, and he barrels into contact as a pulling blocker, demolishing unprepared opponents.
Henderson’s Areas for Improvement
While Henderson is a rare physical talent, there are ways he can improve to reach his ceiling. The most glaring issue on Henderson’s tape is his overall leverage. At 6’5″, with a relatively high-cut frame, the Arizona State G frequently struggles with pad level. He’ll play too tall and upright at contact and allow defenders inside his frame. And with his slightly high-cut frame, he sometimes bends at the waist and lurches, leaning past his center of gravity.
These surface-level leverage issues create other inefficiencies in Henderson’s game, and they ultimately dilute his effectiveness and give opportunities to his opponents. By bending at the waist, Henderson sometimes negates his lower body, limiting the amount he can channel power through his base. At times, he’ll divert upright directly off the snap, stalling his momentum and giving defenders surface area to exploit. He also plays too tall as a pulling blocker, making him easier to work off-balance.
Moving onward, Henderson can be more controlled with his weight transfers overall, and his balance on transitions can be inconsistent. He’s not an elite lateral mover and can be a bit stiff when recollecting his base and shifting to match defenders. In a similar vein, he shows some slight stiffness in his hips and torso at times. Occasionally, he’ll struggle initially to open up his hips and extend his strides off the snap.
Henderson has good functional strength, but he has room to improve there as well. His grip at contact can improve, as he doesn’t always latch effectively moving to the second level, enabling swim moves from opponents. And at times, the Arizona State G lacks the core strength to keep defenders within his frame while latched. Overall, he has room to improve his upper-body strength. His lower body is dense, but he’s a bit leaner up top. Because of this, he sometimes struggles to stymy power rushes and hold ground.
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In pass protection, Henderson sometimes keeps his hands too wide ahead of contact, allowing opponents to drive power through his frame. When engaging defenders, he struggles to recover at times when defenders swat his initial extensions. As a hand fighter, he can be more controlled, patient, and efficient. On that note, while Henderson flashes the ability to keep synergy with his hands and base, he sometimes extends before his base is set and struggles to maintain synergy while matching.
Henderson’s feet can be frantic when anticipating contact in pass protection, and this unstable base can make him easier to drive back. Meanwhile, in space, Henderson can be more consistent in sustaining moving blocks. He sometimes overshoots blocking angles and can better square up defenders. Similarly, the Arizona State G extends while over-pursuing blocks at times and loses balance, and he can be indecisive at the second level.
Current Draft Projection for Arizona State G LaDarius Henderson
As of now, Henderson grades out as a late Day 2 prospect on my board. Leverage is a pressing concern, and that’s the main component weighing down his score. He can also seek further refinement with his hand usage and footwork, particularly as a pass protector. But with Henderson, you have all the physical components you need to develop an impact starter at offensive guard in the NFL.
No guard in the 2023 NFL Draft class has the full combination of physical tools that Henderson has. The Arizona State G is a raging bull as a pulling blocker with an elite mix of explosiveness, length, and tenacity. His tendency to play too tall severely impacts his efficiency at this point. But once he becomes more consistent at managing his pad level and effectively leveraging his power, look out — because he can be a dominant force on the interior.
As a pass protector, Henderson can be more efficient and controlled — both with his hands and his footwork. But he’s also proven himself to have the foot speed and amped-up movement capacity to maximize his power output and jar pass rushers at the point of attack. And when he’s properly leveraged, he can wall off power rushes with his strength and wingspan.
Henderson’s blend of explosiveness, power, and ruthless physicality grants him an incredibly high ceiling. And looking at his background, his starting experience at both left tackle and left guard — as a 21-year-old senior, nonetheless — will only compound his appeal.
Henderson can be a versatile depth piece on Day 1. But with some refinement, he could be a phenomenal starting guard. And looking at his career path to this point, it’s reasonable to assume he can pick things up quickly. His power is dominating in a phone booth, and he has the athleticism to be a scheme-versatile impact player.