According to NFL Draft analyst Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net, the Denver Broncos are among the teams to visit with Mississippi States inside linebacker prospect Benardrick McKinney.
49ers respond to LB retirements by scheduling official visit with Benardrick McKinney/Miss St who's also visiting Cowboys, Broncos & Texans— Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) March 17, 2015
McKinney is a 22-year-old redshirt junior who measures in at 6-4, 245 pounds. He finished his college career with 243 total tackles, 7.5 sacks, eight passes defended, and one forced fumble. He's considered one of the top inside linebacker prospects in this year's class, and is expected to be a late first to early to mid second round pick in this April's NFL Draft.
The Broncos are switching to a 3-4 defense under new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. Linebackers Brandon Marshall and Danny Trevathan are penciled in as the starters at the inside linebacker position right now, but the Broncos may look to add some competition/size via the draft. Also, with linebacker Danny Trevathan coming off multiple knee injuries last season, the Broncos might be looking for an insurance policy if his knees continue to be an issue.
McKinney is a versatile linebacker. He lined up inside and rushed off the edge at Mississippi State. He's a well-built linebacker. He's tall, has long arms, big frame, and strong legs. He has the strength to take on offensive lineman and successfully work through the traffic to get to the ball carrier. He's a solid tackler. He wraps guy up instead of going for the big hit. He shows good awareness on the field. He takes good angles and does on run himself out of a play. McKinney has a nose for the ball. He always seems to be around the ball. He has experience on special teams and was a good blitzer in college.
He's probably a two-down linebacker in the NFL unless he improves in coverage. He looks stiff at times in coverage and often gives up too much separation when playing zone. He has limited hand technique and will need to be coached up at that aspect of his game in the NFL. McKinney plays high and is often prone to cut blocks. He doesn't have the foot quickness you would expect from an athlete like McKinney.