LBs that can cover TEs and RBs, play the run, shed blocks, and rush the passer, are a must. Those kind of LBs are not very common. These kind of LBs fit any defensive system, and are a hot commodity. In last year’s draft we saw 2 versatile LBs go in the top 10. Khalil Mack out of Buffalo and Anthony Barr out of UCLA. Both LBs showed the ability to play multiple positions in a 3-4 or a 4-3. Benardrick McKinney, could be the next one in line.
McKinney has impressive size at 6’5, 249lbs. Most guys his size, are a little slower, struggle to flip their hips in coverage, and are usually good at playing the run. Not McKinney. McKinney is a 3 down LB that can do everything. On 3rd downs, offenses don’t know if he is blitzing or dropping back into coverage. Offenses also have a hard time locking onto McKinney and figuring out where he is lining up. He will line up as a MLB, SOLB, and a WOLB.
Against the run, McKinney maneuvers through traffic well, makes his reads quickly, sheds the block, and makes the tackle. If the play is away from him, he does a great job of pursuing. When he tackles, he brings pop.
Against the pass, McKinney doesn’t give receivers a free release, by jamming and chipping at the LOS. One thing he does very well, is chips the TE at the Los, and then blitzes with burst to the QB. When he drops into coverage, he is physical, stays underneath, and gives the QB a narrow window to throw.
Against the run, McKinney can struggle to get off blocks at times. When a big strong interior OL gets their hands on him, he tends to struggle fighting off that block. At 6’5, he tends to tackle high, which allows powerful backs to push through for a couple of extra yards after contact. At times he will miss read the play, and be late to the play.
Against the pass; More athletic TEs can get the best of him. He does cover them well, but if he doesn’t get his hands on the TE, they can beat him with athleticism. When he blitzes, he can get caught over pursuing the QB. His hand technique while blitzing could use some work.
Overall: McKinney is an impressive prospect with good size and athleticism. He has lead a very stout Miss State defense. He has shown the versatility to fit into any NFL defense. His future is very bright, especially for teams who like to blitz. McKinney joins a long list of impressive defensive prospects to come out of Miss State; CB Jonathan Banks, DT Fletcher Cox, LB KJ Wright, DE/LB Pernell McPhee, LB Jamar Chaney, and CB Darius Slay. Benardrick McKinney may be the best prospect out of all of them. Look for McKinney to have his named called day 1, or early day 2.
Video Courtesy of DraftBreakdown.com