Commanders K.J. Henry has not yet reached his ceiling
He was a five-star defensive stud, recruited by many colleges since his sophomore year in high school.
He went to a Division 1 national contender football powerhouse program.
However, five college seasons later, edge rusher K.J. Henry of Clemson found himself not being drafted until the 5th round (137 overall) in this 2023 NFL draft.
Apparently Henry, according to several scouts is a player who just didn’t develop at Clemson as anticipated. He was considered elite upon his Clemson arrival but certainly not elite when entering the draft.
Henry did not make the top ten of Edge rushers for Pro Football Focus or Pro Football Network. CBS Sports rated him as the 20th edge rusher in this draft class.
One scout stated Henry “Lacks bulk and gets smothered by blockers. Lacks great athletic numbers for the next level.”
Henry’s first three Clemson seasons he registered a surprisingly low two, two and five QB hits. His total QB pressures were 12, 16 and 23.
Consequently, Henry returned for his final fifth year (a redshirt his freshman season). This time his numbers increased gaining the attention of some scouts for the positive. Though he still only managed to achieve 3.5 sacks, Henry did escalate his stat line in all other categories: 51 tackles, and six passes defended in 14 games. Henry also logged an impressive 50 total pressures, 31 QB hurries, and 14 QB hits.
Former Washington general manager Scot McCloughan last week was asked about the Commanders selecting Henry. McCloughan admitted Henry had lacked the expected production but did feel that where they selected him (5th round) the Commanders obtained good value for the pick.
Three of Washington’s draft picks signed today: DEs K.J Henry and Andre Jones, and RB Chris Rodriguez Jr.
— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) May 12, 2023
Some scouts have reported Henry might develop as an edge defender in a 3-4 defense. The Commanders play a 4-3 and made him their selection in the fifth round. Perhaps they will make a real attempt to beef up Henry who is listed as 6-foot-4, 251 pounds, keeping him at defensive end.
The young man has exhibited maturity when, for example, he used money he received in his NIL at Clemson to help with medical expenses incurred due to his father’s requiring a kidney transplant.