Draft Profile: Bernardrick McKinney (LB)
Scouting Mississippi State’s Monster in the Middle
If you are a running back, what is the last thing you want to see across the line of scrimmage? That would be a 6’4, 250lb. inside linebacker coming downhill in your direction. Bernardrick McKinney, the outstanding ex-Mississippi State defender, is one of the draft’s scariest players, and would provide any defense with a stout presence over the middle of the field. While he might not excel in coverage, McKinney provides any team with an instant intimidation factor, and would be an especially huge boost for the Miami Dolphins’ depleted linebacker group.
ILB- Mississippi State
2012: Freshman All-SEC Team
2013 & 2014: Led Team in Tackles
2014: First Team All-SEC
2014: First Team All-American
40-Yard Dash: 4.66 sec.
Vertical Jump: 40.5”
Broad Jump: 10’1”
Bench Press: 16 Reps
Bernardrick McKinney is a force in the middle of the field, displaying impressive strength and poise when defending against powerful runners. He is a prototype “clog up the middle” inside linebacker, and would aid any team’s efforts to improve their run defense. McKinney also benefits from having quick hands, and combines those hands with size and strength to shed blockers, and attack running backs at the line of scrimmage. McKinney also benefits from playing in the SEC, which features some of the nation’s largest and most powerful college players. This makes the physical jump to the NFL slightly less daunting than it would be for a player from a less physically imposing conference.
McKinney’s ability to watch a play develop and track down the runner is very impressive. He has the patience to wait for a hole to develop, and then attacks it aggressively. He is seen often on film meeting running backs at the point of attack full speed, with very little hesitation. McKinney’s skills in that sense will be a huge asset for him in the NFL, and coaches will love his knowledge and feel for the game. Bernardrick McKinney is a throwback style linebacker, and will bring toughness and attitude to any defense he is a part of in 2015.
In the previous paragraph, McKinney was described as a “throwback” linebacker. This is a double-edged sword, as the role of an inside linebacker was very different before the passing revolution. While McKinney is a force to be reckoned with in terms of strength and tackling ability, he struggles with speed and athleticism against the pass. This did not hurt him too much with the Bulldogs, but as he reaches the NFL and is given more responsibility, McKinney could struggle to run across the field to track down faster players.
McKinney runs with heavy feet, and often appears to lack fluidity when asked to move laterally
across the field. He occasionally even borders on clunky, and will have to become more agile as he prepares to face NFL offenses. Bernardrick McKinney does have the athletic ability to develop his skills in coverage. He will have to train hard to improve in those areas if he wants to avoid becoming a liability in coverage early on in his career. McKinney is one of the many players that will need to work hard in order to adjust their style of play to deal with the infamous jump in speed from college to the NFL.
Bernardrick McKinney has the highest upside of any inside linebacker in the draft, featuring immense size and strength, but he struggles with agility and quickness in coverage. If Miami were to select McKinney, they would become even scarier as a defensive unit, by pairing him with Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh. If Suh and Wake occupy multiple linemen, that will leave McKinney and the other linebackers room to attack running backs in the backfield. Defensive coordinators would have fits trying to stop all of these defenders from making big plays.
The 14th overall pick is too early to select Bernardrick McKinney, but the team could attempt to trade back and select him later in the first round (however after selecting Ja’Wuan James 19th overall last year, nothing would be surprising). Miami could also take a chance and wait until the second round to see if McKinney is available then. Regardless of where they would select him, Bernardrick McKinney could be an instant starter and contributor for the Dolphins’, and would add yet another strong piece to an already much improved defensive unit heading into 2015.