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Scouting The Draft: Benardrick McKinney, ILB, Mississippi State

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Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

Introduction

Aside from Demario Davis, who has been a star one week and invisible the next, the entire New York Jets linebacking corps. needs an upgrade. David Harris is a free agent, and while it wouldn't be surprising to see him re-sign with the team, it also wouldn't be surprising to see him join Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills.

Benardrick McKinney is an inside linebacker from Mississippi State, although our own Crackback has said he thinks he'd be better suited for 3-4 outside linebacker. This may be his best role, where he can be a run-crushing, pass-rushing, soul-destroying backer. In fact, McKinney played OLB his freshman year, where he tallied 102 tackles, before being moved to ILB. One NFL personnel executive called him "Rolando McClain or a poor man's Brian Urlacher."

Measurables

  • Height: 6'5"
  • Weight: 252lbs
  • Age: 22
  • Class: Junior
  • Projected 40-Yard Dash: 4.45 seconds
  • Projected Vertical Leap: 42"
  • Projected Broad Jump: 10'3"

Statistics

Year Class Tot Loss Sk
2012 FR 102 4.5 1
2013 SO 70 7 3.5
2014 JR 71 25 3
Career 243 36.5 7.5

Positives

  • Hits like a Mack truck.
  • Has good instincts; can read a play and figure out where the ball is going.
  • Built like Godzilla.
  • Has good tackling technique.
  • Can disengage from blockers well.
  • Very good speed when rushing the passer.
  • Great closing speed.
  • Calls the defense for Mississippi State.

Negatives

  • His coverage is the weakest part of his game, although I'd characterize it was "average."
  • Will struggle against quick backs and receivers due to high center of gravity.
  • Will sometimes turn his back to the play.
  • Struggles against cut blocks due to height.

Conclusion

I think McKinney has the potential to be a longterm staple in a defense, the guy that year-in-and-year-out produces, but will probably not be a consistent difference maker. His best trait, his run-stuffing and ability to set the edge, will make him a starter you can rely on for years to come. However, I don't think he'll be an elite pass rusher or cover backer. As a result, I wouldn't draft him at #6 overall. If the team can trade back into the late first round, I think he would be an excellent pick, and someone Todd Bowles can plug-and-play at the center of his defense.

Draft Grade: 80

90-100 = Exceptional Talent

80-90 = Impact Player

70-80 = NFL Starter

60-70 = Solid NFL Potential

50-60 = Draftable - Lot of work needed

>50 = Undraftable - Long Shot To Stick