There are times when evaluating talent for the NFL that a look at the player’s measurable tells the tale. For Mississippi State OLB Benardrick McKinney, the measurables that matter all happen to fall in his favor, in a very big way.
McKinney is 6’4-3/4” tall, currently weighs 252 pounds and has a ho-hum 7 percent body fat. He can gain weight and grow without losing any explosive playmaking ability at all. He is expected to post a 42” vertical jump, a 10’3” broad jump and a 40-yard dash time around 4.45 seconds. These numbers are going to make NFL people drool.
There are reasons for McKinney to enter this draft, some that will remain quiet, and some as obvious as looking at anyone’s big board. Elite athletes always are near the top of the draft, but this year you will not find a body type like his anywhere near the top of the 2014 draft big board.
McKinney is going to be a pass rusher in the NFL. Let’s look at the elite pass rushers available in Round 1. UCLA OLB Anthony Barr is 6’3” and 235 pounds. Buffalo OLB Kahlil Mack is 6’2” and 244 pounds. Clemson OLB Vic Beasley is 6’2” and 235 pounds. BYU OLB Kyle Van Noy is 6’3” and 235 pounds. Ohio State OLB Ryan Shazier is 6’2” and 226 pound.
There is a body type that’s missing, and in particular one attribute missing. That attribute is length and we know what long arms can do for a player trying to get to the quarterback. McKinney has the body type that bridges the gap from the solely defensive end types (think Clowney) to the OLB types. The OLB types are going to have a tough time setting the edge against the run as they are too small.
Benardrick McKinney is a player who has the movement skills to play OLB at the next level. When you look at his long-armed frame and then consider that he weighs 252 pounds at 7 percent body fat, it means he can add weight and play defensive end. There aren’t many players who are capable of doing this, especially one as highly thought of as McKinney.
McKinney played OLB as a freshman in the 2012 season and totaled 102 tackles. Needless to say, he had an incredible freshman season. The Mississippi State staff moved him to the middle of the defense for the 2013 season and his production dipped, but are they truly playing McKinney at his strength by moving him inside?
At the end of the day, McKinney offers something different than the other premier players in the 2014 NFL draft. He offers height, length and long arms to go along with electric athletic ability and while some of the other prospects may have a few of these physical and athletic traits, none have them all in one package like Benardrick McKinney does.