JBB Draft Profile: Benardrick McKinney, LB, Mississippi State

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Sep 6, 2014; Starkville, MS, USA; UAB Blazers running back Jordan Howard (7) advances the ball and is tackled by Mississippi State Bulldogs linebacker Benardrick McKinney (50) during the game at Davis Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports


The first thing that stands out about Benardrick McKinney is his size. At 6’5″ and 250 pounds, he is built more like a rush end or a tight end than your typical Mike linebacker, and he has of course lined up as an edge rushing outside linebacker quite often at Mississippi State. He is a full four inches taller than Nick Roach and 15 pounds heavier, and even has a good couple inches of height on Khalil Mack. This alone would make him an intimidating presence at the Mike spot, simply standing there three yards in front of the quarterback and being huge, obstructing the quarterbacks view of the free safety, and just generally being in the way a lot. McKinney also has very long arms, allowing him to extend and shed blockers more easily, as well as reaching out to make difficult arm tackles when necessary.

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Mississippi State Football: Looking back at the Bulldogs career of Benardrick McKinney
Mississippi State Football: Looking back at the Bulldogs career of Benardrick McKinney /

South Bound & Down

  • Washington Football Team: 3 replacements for Jon Bostic after season-ending injury Riggo's Rag
  • 5 available linebackers Green Bay Packers could target Dairyland Express
  • NY Jets: 4 free agents the team could sign before Week 1 The Jet Press
  • The Houston Hook: The crazy saga of the Benardrick McKinney trade Toro Times
  • The Miami Dolphins have quietly built a fearsome front seven Phin Phanatic
  • To go along with his exceptional size, McKinney is also an incredible athlete. He started for his high school basketball team, and as the starting quarterback of his high school football team threw for 1,334 yards and 15 TD’s and rushed for 702 yards and 7 scores. McKinney was also, of course, a standout linebacker in high school, and was the top defensive prospect in the State of Mississippi.  He has been unofficially clocked in the 4.5 range in the 40-yard dash, and has had his vertical measured at an uncanny 34 inches. His measurables aren’t just good for his position and size, they’re flat out good.  He’s a very fluid, graceful athlete who has great acceleration in pursuit as well as good lateral movement. His speed and athleticism are paired with great strength, power and explosiveness at the point of attack, as well, and he is at his best when operating from the middle linebacker spot against runs between the tackles. He explodes toward the gap, sheds bigger bodied offensive linemen, and gets a hat on opposing runners quickly and is a sure tackler, both in traffic as well as in the open field.

    In addition to the physical gifts McKinney is also a very smart player, the product of playing three years as a starter at the middle linebacker position. He makes exceptional pre-snap reads and adjustments, and is rarely fooled by misdirection and play action. He has been the primary defensive signal-caller on a very good defensive unit for 35 consecutive games now.  His size, athleticism and football IQ allow him to line up in multiple positions.Although he is best as a Mike linebacker, he has lined up frequently as an edge rusher, and has the tools necessary to succeed from this spot, as well, having recorded 7.5 sacks in his college career. He is an incredibly versatile player, which will make him a valuable commodity at the next level despite some of the flaws in his game.