Pro Day Tour: ‘Dynamic’ McKinney

Did the Packers see their first-round pick at Mississippi State’s pro day on Wednesday? We have the scoop from MSU and three other defense-heavy pro days in which a Packers scout was in attendance. (Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY)

Green Bay Packers college scouting director Brian Gutekunst got a first-hand look at their potential first-round draft pick at Mississippi State’s pro day on Wednesday.

Benardrick McKinney, who at 6-foot-4 and 246 pounds is one of just a handful of inside linebackers who is taller than 6-foot or 6-foot-1 in this draft class, stuck with his work from the Scouting Combine — which included an impressive 4.66 in the 40-yard dash and an explosive 40.5-inch vertical leap.

McKinney started all three seasons and was a first-team All-American in 2014 with three sacks and eight tackles for losses among his 71 stops.

“He’d be a dynamic fit” for the Packers, said a source who watched the workout. Added a scout: “I’m not sure he’s worth it where you guys pick (No. 30) but he sure as hell isn’t going to be there in the second (No. 62).”

For the Packers, who covet height, they might be choosing between McKinney and Clemson’s Stephone Anthony to be the plug-and-play starter at inside linebacker alongside Sam Barrington.

"I think I'm a football player," McKinney said. "You've got to do those (workouts) to stay healthy and stay on top of your game, but I'm a better football player than a track star."

He thought his position work was key.

“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.”

Three other prospects are worth noting.

Preston Smith is quite the specimen at 6-foot-5 and 271 pounds. He stuck with a superb Combine workout (4.74, 34-inch vertical, 24 reps on the bench) but did drills as a defensive end and outside linebacker. At the Combine, Smith said he was a big fan of the versatility of Green Bay’s Julius Peppers. If he’s available in the second round, he’d be an inviting prospect to plug into a Peppers-like role. As a senior, he had nine sacks, 15 tackles for losses, two interceptions and two forced fumbles.

Kaleb Eulls (6-3, 305) wasn’t invited to the Scouting Combine, even after 52 career starts and a solid week at the Senior Bowl. According to NFL.com, he ran in 5.20 seconds with 26 reps on the bench.

Guard Ben Beckwith, a potential seventh-round pick, went from walk-on to third-team All-American. He was first-team all-SEC as a senior, when he was a three-time Lineman of the Week — twice at guard and once at center. He isn’t a great athlete (5.29, according to a source) but is an intelligent and versatile prospect. “You know what you’re going to get with him, and line coaches love that.”

Arkansas

The lone draftable prospect was Trey Flowers, who fits the Packers’ mold at outside linebacker. We have more on him right here/a>.

Texas A&M

The Aggies’ top prospect, offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, is sidelined by a torn ACL sustained during the Liberty Bowl. He should be ready for the start of training camp. He hopes to start running in two-and-a-half weeks.

“He’s a good football player,” Packers senior personnel executive Alonzo Highsmith told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “He’s quick and agile.”

Ogbuehi is a versatile prospect who started at guard, right tackle and left tackle during his three years in the starting lineup. He would have been a first-round pick had he entered the draft last year. Now, he’s projected as a third-rounder by the league’s scouting department.

“He’s played every position for us except center,” A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said. “At the college level, he’s a quality offensive lineman, one of the best in the country. How that translates to the next level, I don’t know. I think it depends on your scheme, what you want to do. But certainly, he’s talented enough to play a number of positions.”

Guard Jarvis Harrison (6-4, 330) ran in 5.19 with 26 reps at the Combine. He started 26 games during his career, including two at left tackle as a senior. Running back Trey Williams (5-8, 195) ran in 4.49 with a 33.5-inch vertical and 18 reps on the bench at the Combine. He’s probably too small for Green Bay’s tastes but he did average 24.8 yards per kickoff return. Those two stuck with their work in Indy. Tight end Cameron Clear (6-5, 277) ran in 4.98 with a 32-inch vertical at the Combine. He caught nine passes in two seasons with the Aggies after being dismissed from Tennessee after an arrest for felony theft. The school Web site said he improved to 4.81.

The intriguing player was cornerback Deshazor Everett, who didn’t receive a Combine invite. Everett (5-11, 188), a three-year starter, is projected as a sixth-round pick after finishing second on the team with 79 tackles while intercepting one pass and breaking up seven others. He ran in 4.49 with a 38-inch vertical. A scout projects him to a safety or nickel defender.

Purdue

The lone draftable prospect is Ryan Russell, a four-year starting defensive end who had three sacks and 6.5 tackles for losses as a senior. At the Combine, Russell (6-4, 269) ran his 40 in 4.75 seconds with a 32.5-inch vertical and 25 reps on the bench. On Wednesday, Russell tweaked a hamstring during his 40 but went through drills at defensive end and outside linebacker. With his size, he’s a possibility for the elephant position — a spot in which Peppers is 35 and Nick Perry and Mike Neal will be entering their final season under contract.

Running back Akeem Hunt was clocked in 4.36, according to NFL.com, but at 5-foot-10 and 189 pounds, he’s probably not the Packers’ cup of tea. He is considered free-agent material.

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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