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2015 NFL Draft Results: What Benardrick McKinney Brings To The Texans

Brett Kollmann absolutely loved the Texans' first round pick of Kevin Johnson. Does he feel the same way about Benardrick McKinney? Well...not so much.

Derick E.Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Texans have had a deficiency at inside linebacker for quite some time now next to often banged up Brian Cushing. To rectify that hole in the roster, Rick Smith and Bill O’Brien traded up with the Browns to the 43rd overall pick to get their guy – Benardrick McKinney out of Mississippi State. I am personally not a big fan of the pick, though I hope I can be proven unequivocally wrong like Tim once was after the selection of Brian Cushing in 2009. Here are my abbreviated notes on McKinney to give better context to my…um…disagreement.

Benardrick McKinney, ILB, Mississippi State

Size/bulk ---------------------------------- 5/5 (Played at roughly 6’4" and 260 lbs. by the look of him. There’s no way he was less than 255)

Speed/quickness ------------------------ 5/10 (4.66 at the NFL Combine is a little misleading. He takes forever to get up to speed and can’t accelerate from scraping to pursuit in an instant like Anthony and Kendricks can. Stiff-hipped in coverage and will get taken advantage of in space. Nice vertical explosion which was on display on diving tackles and when he takes on blocks, but everything else is suspect. I think he dropped 10-15 pounds just for the Combine and I’m not sure yet if he can play the same way at 245 that he did north of 255)

Pursuit angles ---------------------------- 3/5 (His angles were generally okay. He got burned in space at times but that was largely due to stiffness and lack of jump start speed rather than poor angles)

Stack and shed --------------------------- 8/10 (Very good stack and shed defender. He would probably thrive as a Mike, provided he doesn’t have to cover anyone man to man. Exceptional lower body explosiveness helps him anchor and stone offensive linemen at will, and he’s got enough length at 33" to not get blown up by pulling guards on contact. He doesn’t shed with overwhelming violence, but he works off engagement really well with his size and power. Being 255+ probably helped. He was basically a defensive end playing middle linebacker)

Tackling ------------------------------------ 5/10 (He can really deliver a big blow with his bulk when he lines people up, but tackling in space is a major issue. I don’t think he’s weak per say, but he just could not maintain a grip on anyone unless he was also bringing his full weight with him into someone’s chest. Wrapping in space was a huge drawback on every tape I watched, which is unacceptable if he’s going to be asked to close on underneath throws as a zone defender.)

Fluidity/Coverage ----------------------- 6/10 (Just like Perryman, he’s not reliable in coverage. He had a few moments of acceptableness in zone, but man coverage is going to be a nightmare for him if he is asked to blanket running backs out of the back field. He at least gets more depth than Perryman in zone and has the size to compete with tight ends if he happens to be in a good position, but his stiffness is a huge liability that should be taken into account when looking at his future schematic fit)

Blitzing ability ---------------------------- 6/10 (Size should help as a blitzer, but he’s really raw in technique and still needs to learn how to use his hands. He’s basically just a power rusher right now who can try to force his way through on strength and straight line explosiveness alone, but he’s got a decent ceiling if he gets a good coach that can help him learn what the f*** he’s doing. Stiffness will hurt him as a blitzer off the edge because he can’t really bend the corner like true edge rushing prospects)

Instincts/discipline ---------------------- 6/10 (He seemed much more comfortable reading pro-style offenses than spread and option systems. Lots of false stepping against Auburn, particularly when he was on the front side of the play. He read everything just fine when the guard pulled FROM his side because he could diagnose that immediately.  When he had to read down blocks in front of him, he had a tendency to false step and wash down way too hard, which put him in compromising positions. At least he seemed to read a lot better against LSU and Kentucky since those were more straight forward, non-gimmicky systems.  Stuff with lots of movement and fast pacing gave him some issues. Luckily that is something that can be ironed out at the next level because MOST college linebackers still don’t really know how to properly read run fits due to limited time to commit to the film room. He just might need a season of mental reps before he can step in as a starter, scheme permitting)

Motor/toughness ----------------------- 8/10 (Decent motor on him and you could tell he loves contact. Despite missing a lot of tackles in space, he thrived in the box as a downhill thumper. He’s made to play in a phone booth)

Durability ---------------------------------- 10/10 (Took over a starting linebacker his redshirt freshman season in 2012. Stayed healthy and never missed a start after he got the job. Started 36 of his last 39 games of career)

Character/leadership ------------------- 10/10 (Captain. Leader of the MSU defense that helped keep the team unbeaten for much of the season. No arrests or suspensions. Terrific work ethic)

OVERALL ----------------------------------- 72 (Big-ass, downhill stack and shed linebacker who will probably fit best as a 4-3 Mike somewhere as well as a special teams demon. He grades out a couple notches higher than he likely should because of his size, power, and potential if he can fix a few issues. He likely will never, ever get better in man coverage with his stiffness, but he might be okay in zone long term as a Tampa-2 Mike. Tackling in space is the other major issue, and that one scares me the most. He’ll generally get himself into position just fine to make the hit, but he struggles to actually make the tackle once he gets there. Instincts can also be a bit inconsistent at times with false steps and losing track of the ball, but I’m hoping that can improve in time considering he looked noticeably more consistent at reading blocking schemes against pro style offenses compared to games against "gimmicky college bull***t". Either way, he’s a developmental prospect who can someday become a solid starter if he’s allowed to thrive within his skillset – murdering dudes between the tackles. Teams should be interested in him around the third or fourth round)

What do you think, BRB’ers? Are you as worried as I am that the Texans may have just massively reached for a position of need? Am I crazy to think that McKinney could have been overdrafted?

I know one thing for sure – I hope like hell that I’m dead wrong.