Interviewed by all the various National Football League franchises which could be contacting his services this summer, he meant. After years at the Mississippi State podium, Benardrick McKinney isn’t a bit worried chatting with the local press corps.
For that matter the now-former Bulldog linebacker wasn’t worried with his performance at campus Pro Day. Or not too much. Having put in a solid showing last month at the NFL’s Indianapolis combine, McKinney is already in good professional position.
Still, “I felt a little stressed today trying to do better,” he said. “It was good, I felt good about it.”
McKinney did not participate in all the day’s events. After the Indy combine, he saw no need to run another 40 yards on the clock or beat his bench press total. Instead McKinney waited for the field drills with cones and matchups and such. The thing scouts, representing every NFL team and a few Canadian League franchises for good measure, really want to see.
Which suited McKinney just fine. “I’m a better football player than track star.”
Not that speed won’t matter in NFL evaluations, of course. But anyone watching McKinney’s game tape know the young—he is exiting early after a fourth-year junior season—can run. The pro people were evaluating a lot of other motions as McKinney worked his way around cones, then handled one-on-one matchups.
The feedback? McKinney is cagey. “I’m not going to give y’all the good news!” he said. But he does admit, scouts are most interested in how McKinney can get around in open ground at the next level.
”I think I did good and showed them I could move in space,” he said. Which, McKinney thinks, counts for more than stopwatch readings and lifts lists.
“Some guys are just naturally strong, some guys are just naturally fast. But the shuttle shows how fast you can change directions. Positions show how good you can move. All the drills they put us through I think shows a lot on the field.”
Pro Day 2015 showed something else. Where not so long ago Mississippi State would have struggled to provide double-digit prospects for pros to watch, much less evaluate, there were a solid score of legitimate players participating this year.
McKinney could enjoy a justified sense of pride in what he saw Wednesday.
“It was an honor coming back and competing with the guys I competed with for four years. Just showing my talent to all the coaches. It was fun out there today.”