JBB Draft Profile: Benardrick McKinney, LB, Mississippi State

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Sep 30, 2014; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie at a press conference to introduce Tony Sparano (not pictured) as Raiders interim coach at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


Benardrick McKinney is a physical phenom who has played a lot of college football at a very high level, developing some very strong skills in certain elements of his game in the process, as well as a good football IQ. He brings a size, speed, and athletic prowess to the Mike linebacker position like no other linebacker prospect in this year’s draft, and indeed like very few such linebackers currently in the league. McKinney also presents well as a raw but capable pass-rushing threat, a player who can line up in a wide 9 technique and at the very least draw the attention of the pass-blocking scheme, potentially opening up opportunities for teammates. That said, he is incredibly raw as a pass defender and needs to brush up on some of his fundamentals, even against the run, where he is at his strongest.  If he responds well to coaching and developing all aspects of his game, he could potentially be a Karlos Dansby type, or even a bigger Patrick Willis at his ceiling. Even at his rawest, he could still be highly useful as a two-down Mike backer with his ability to stop the run, and then could be moved over as an edge rusher on third downs.

McKinney is not worth a top 5 overall pick, and he’s not worth giving up a pick to move up the board to get later in the first round for the Raiders, who have so many other needs. But with more polished players Denzel Perryman and Eric Kendricks potentially being taken ahead of him, there is a chance that McKinney could fall to the second round. If McKinney is there at the top of the 2nd round, he would be an absolute steal for the Raiders.

The Raiders would also be a great situation for him, as he would likely get at least a season to practice alongside veteran Nick Roach and develop his game as a backup or situational player before being called upon for the starting job. If he develops into a capable three-down NFL middle linebacker, he would join Sio Moore and Khalil Mack as one of the best, if not the best, young linebacker trios in the NFL.