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NFL Draft Profile: Henry Bainivalu, OL

Will Washington’s starting RG get drafted next week?

NCAA Football: Washington at California Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re reading this in the future because your NFL team just drafted/signed Henry Bainivalu, welcome. If you’re just a regular old normal person reading it from the boring, old present...also welcome.

Bainivalu’s Background

Henry Bainivalu was born in Fiji but moved to Washington state as a child and ended up as a hometown recruit for the Washington Huskies. He was a highly touted recruit as the 5th best prospect in the state for the class of 2017 and earned 4-star status. He ultimately picked Washington over Oregon. Coming out of high school at Skyline he was listed at 6’6 and 290 pounds with the frame to play left tackle.

Like most offensive linemen he redshirted his first year on campus but saw the field as a redshirt freshman. Bainivalu filled in as needed and across 9 games he took snaps at every position but center in backup duties for a team that won the Pac-12 championship before ultimately losing to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. As a redshirt sophomore he mostly settled in at right guard for the Huskies and took over to play the last 3 games of the season after an injury to starter (and fellow 2023 draft prospect) Jaxson Kirkland.

Starting as a redshirt junior in 2020, Bainivalu won the full-time right guard spot after the coaching staff kicked Kirkland outside to left tackle. The Huskies only played a 4-game schedule due to the pandemic but Henry played all but 10 snaps at the RG position and was honorable mention all-Pac-12. Expectations were high for a full season under head coach Jimmy Lake in 2021 but the Washington offense was one of the worst in the country carrying out OC John Donovan’s scheme. A big reason was a collapse by the performance of the offensive line. Bainivalu started every game but his performance dipped and rumors swirled that he would be forced to retire from football due to a back injury that nagged him throughout the season.

Instead though Bainivalu opted to use his extra Covid year of eligibility to return for a 6th season under new head coach Kalen DeBoer. That decision paid huge dividends as Bainivalu stayed healthy and was a part of one of the best pass protection units in the country. He started every game and for the 2nd time was named honorable mention all-Pac-12.

Athletic Profile & On-Field Production

At the combine Bainivalu measured in at 6’5 and 5/8th inches and 306 pounds. That’s a body type that comes closer to an offensive tackle than a guard which is partly why Bainivalu was originally viewed as most likely to play outside. Having extra height isn’t a bad thing but Bainivalu doesn’t even have the weight of a standard guard with the bigger frame. Earlier in his career Bainivalu played at 325+ pounds but as he aged the coaching staff decided his body was less likely to break down if carrying less weight so he slimmed down as time went on. His arm length came in at 34 inches which is on the very low end of acceptable for a tackle but gives him a boost when viewed as an inside prospect finishing in the 80th percentile.

As you can see in the below rating from the Relative Athletic Score, Bainivalu is not exactly the most fluid athlete. He tested below the 5th percentile for OL in the 3-cone drill and was sub-20th percentile in the 40-yard dash, 10-yard split, and 20-yard shuttle. He’s just not a very quick mover and is not able to change direction within short spaces. His explosion numbers tested all right with just about exactly average vertical and broad jump totals for an offensive guard.

The idea that Bainivalu’s athleticism dropped throughout his college career is backed up by his production. In 2019 and 2020 he finished with PFF grades of 73.4 and 74.1 and gave up 0 sacks with just 1 QB hit across 250+ snaps. He played a lot more often the next 2 years with full seasons and his grades dropped to 67.8 and 70.1. That included giving up 4 sacks and 19 QB hits but over the course of 1,000 pass dropbacks. Bainivalu’s pass blocking dipped in 2021 when the line as a whole was a mess in a poorly constructed scheme but rebounded to career best levels behind a more cohesive unit in 2022.

Draft & NFL Career Projection

If an NFL team is looking for an experienced right guard who at age 24 doesn’t need much seasoning before competing for playing time then Bainivalu has the pre-requisites. The frame is there for Bainivalu and if he’s able to regain some of his earlier athleticism while in an NFL strength and conditioning program then there is additional upside. As long as his body cooperates he should at least be a reasonable backup option at the next level at the right guard spot even if he’s unlikely to become a starter.

Bainivalu was invited to the NFL Combine so there’s obviously a chance he gets drafted. Dane Brugler has Bainivalu listed as his #22 overall guard with a designation of priority free agent. gives Bainivalu a 5.64 overall grade which falls under the category of “candidate for bottom of roster or practice squad”. All it takes is one team though and it’s not crazy to think that Bainivalu could hear his name called starting in the 6th round. But more likely he’ll get his best chance as an undrafted free agent.