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2015 NFL Draft: Scouting Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State Inside Linebacker

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We're looking for a man in the middle! Isn't that how Michael Jackson sings it?

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

I can remember Broncos fans clamoring for a MLB ever since Al Wilson retired. Finding a good 3-down MLB, no a dominant 3-down linebacker seems as impossible as finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Each draft since Elway came on board has brought some sort of hope of finding that elusive player. Third rounder Nate Irving was supposed to be that player but for whatever reason never reached that level. The following year Donta Hightower was there at #25. Instead the Broncos traded the pick to New England and selected Derek Wolfe at #36. The next year a trio of players were looked to as the possible answer but the Broncos went with Sylvester Williams. Last year, it was rumored they wanted to move up for C.J. Mosley but considered the cost too great.

You have to understand something right now, the Broncos do not view the MLB position as a premier position on the team. This season however there is absolutely no depth at that position, and the possibility of placing two coverage LB's on the inside (though possible) doesn't fit the archetype of having a larger more aggressive-downhill player to play the run and blitz. Wade Phillips has always adapted his defenses to his personnel--but make no mistake, he views the MIKE player in this system largely how I described it. Coverage ability is merely a plus, not a need.

Our next profile is of ILB Benardrick McKinney. McKinney is a two-year starter for Mississippi St. He led his team in tackles in 2013 and 2014.

Measureables

6'4" 246 lbs.

33" arms, 9" hands

40-yard dash

4.66 seconds

Bench Press

16 Reps

Vertical Jump

40.5 inches

Broad Jump

121.0 inches

3-cone

7.21 seconds

20-yd shuttle

4.21 seconds

Film Room

Scouting Report (Via NFL.com)

Positives

Tall, proportionally built inside linebacker with ability to play outside. Has thick, powerful legs. Good straight-line speed to chase. True take-on linebacker who can meet linemen head-on or beat them to the spot and leverage his gap with above average play strength. Scrapes and stalks while using length and powerful hands to keep himself free and clear of blockers. Steps into hole and fires into running back, finishing with wrap-up tackle. Able to run downfield in seam with tight ends. Aware of cutback lanes and rarely runs himself out of the play. Shows very good attention to assignment. Seems to have a nose for the play and is frequently in the mix. Has value on special teams and as a blitzer. Has adequate football intelligence.

Negatives

Plays high and is lacking suddenness. High center of gravity causes clunky change of direction in space. Foot quickness in tight quarters is below average and limiting. Instincts against run are there, but tends to fight his feet and marginal agility. Has trouble clearing the trash near his feet and labors against cut blocks, losing lateral momentum. Potential liability against the pass. Looks stiff when asked to cover in space and gives away too much separation to routes in his area in zone coverage.

My Take

I see a good player who tackles well and with fundamentals (though fails to use his size as leverage) who is rarely out of position. He can run down the seem to cover but will not make his bread and butter in coverage or in space in general--lacks the agility. Overall, McKinney lacks explosiveness and the speed to rush from the edge. He did not beat guards off the snap consistently when blitzing from the middle at least from the videos I watched.

This is a sound, fundamental player that has room to improve, but overall not a player you can project as a perennial pro-bowler or all-pro player. The Broncos could probably find a quality starter at Mike later in the draft.

Projected Round: 2nd round