JBB Draft Profile: Benardrick McKinney, LB, Mississippi State

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Nov 16, 2013; Starkville, MS, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide running back Kenyan Drake (17) carries against Mississippi State Bulldogs linebacker Benardrick McKinney (50) during the first quarter at Davis Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports


McKinney is not without his flaws, especially in the passing game. McKinney, despite his high football IQ and great speed and acceleration, is often a step slow in getting to his pass coverage responsibility, often keeping his eyes in the backfield just a blink too long, and then needing to turn around and go full tilt toward his pass coverage assignment, causing him to momentarily lose track of the quarterback, which can lead to a QB escaping the pocket and scrambling while McKinney’s back is turned to him.  He often arrives just a step too late in pass coverage (a common problem of most middle linebackers in general nowadays), just enough time to make a tackle 7-10 yards downfield rather than disrupting a pass play or causing the QB to look elsewhere. While he has all the athletic ability you’d want in a pass-covering linebacker, he shows a lack of skill development in this area, and poor range for a man with his speed and length.

McKinney also is somewhat reliant on his athletic ability rather than his size and strength when facing blockers, which normally works, but often times he will take himself out of a play or open up a cutback lane by attempting to swim past a blocker or slip away from a blocker rather than engaging him in the gap and forcing the issue. While he has the speed an athleticism to make this work at the college level, the NFL may not be as forgiving, and he will have to more consistently use his size and strength to have the same type of success at the NFL level. He shows the same over-reliance on his speed often as a pass-rusher, usually looking to simply defeat the offensive tackle around the corner rather than using his hands and making inside moves. While he is not seen primarily as a pass-rusher, this is an element to his game where he could have much greater potential if he develops his fundamentals.