JBB Draft Profile: Benardrick McKinney, LB, Mississippi State

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Sep 21, 2013; Starkville, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs linebacker Benardrick McKinney (50) prepares for the play during the game against the Troy Trojans at Davis Wade Stadium. Mississippi State won 62-7. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports


Benardrick McKinney is a three-year starter at Mississippi State, a redshirt Junior for the Bulldogs. A former high school quarterback and multi-sport star, the tall, athletic McKinney started his first game in week four of the 2012 season as a redshirt Freshman, and has started every game for Miss. State since then. He had a stellar Freshman campaign, and was named to nearly every major Freshman All-American list. McKinney recorded 102 tackles in 2012, which led the SEC in tackles by a Freshman, and was good enough for sixth in the nation overall as the Bulldogs went 8-4. He had some of his strongest performances against SEC opponents, including recording 14 tackles against Johnny Manziel’s Texas A&M team and another 14 tackles against Tennessee. The talented McKinney also recorded ten solo tackles against Kentucky.

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In 2013, he started all 13 games for Mississippi State at middle linebacker, leading the team in tackles with 71, including seven tackles for loss, despite the fact that offenses were now game-planning around him. He had a monster game against Auburn early in the year, as well as another great game against Kentucky. McKinney also began showing flashes of ability as a pass-rusher, recording 3.5 sacks that season. While his production was down, he was a dominant force on the Bulldogs defense that didn’t give up a whole lot of points (by college standards) as the team finished with a 7-6 record. In turn McKinney made his way up a lot of NFL Draft boards, but ultimately decided to return to Starkville for another season.

And what a season it’s been. The Bulldogs reeled off nine straight wins to start the year before losing two of the last three, playing very tough defense, especially against the run, and in large part due to McKinney’s efforts. McKinney has managed roughly 66 tackles on the year, in large part due to the fact that Mississippi State has blown a few opponents out and has also forced teams to start throwing the ball a great deal more. McKinney, who has lined up as an edge rusher on multiple occasions this year, has also been a significant presence in the pass rush, recording three sacks to go along with several quarterback hurries. He has been named to nearly every defensive award watch list this year, was named to ESPN’s mid-season All-American team, and looks to be among the top linebacker prospects heading into the 2015 draft, should he decided to come out.