The 2021 NFL Draft Bible Publication

The 2021 NFL Draft Bible Publication

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NFL Draft Profile: Verone McKinley III, Safety, Oregon Ducks

NFL draft profile scouting report for Oregon safety, Verone McKinley III

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#23
Pos: SAF
Ht: 5110
Wt: 196
DOB: 6/29/_
Eligible: 2022
Carrollton, TX
Hebron High School

Verone McKinley III 
Oregon Ducks


Pros:

Ezring: While the safety position has been devalued in recent years, versatile defenders are sought-after commodities in the modern NFL. Verone McKinley III is a versatile defender who has lined up at boundary corner, nickel corner, single-high safety, two-high safety and in the box for the Ducks. The Oregon standout’s game is predicated on his intelligence. The star safety directs his teammates before and after the snap. In zone coverage, McKinley plays with outstanding route recognition, play recognition and spatial awareness. He clearly understands leverage and spacing, consistently positioning himself to obstruct throwing lanes. What’s more, the versatile defensive back boasts excellent vision and instincts to anticipate receivers’ movements and cut off their routes before they can come open. In addition to his intelligence, he mirrors the quarterback seamlessly thanks to his clean transitions, easy change of direction ability, solid lateral burst and loose hips. McKinley is at his best in underneath zones and deep halves. He typically maintains depth in deep coverage and has the click and close to thrive in robber and shallow work. In man coverage, the Oregon star is patient, physical and fluid to mirror. McKinley has the wherewithal to keep his hand in the receiver’s hip pocket while exhibiting the ability to use leverage and contact to stay in phase through sharp-breaking routes. Against the run, the do-it-all safety is willing, efficient and reliable. He typically plays the ballcarrier’s outside leg to either make the tackle or force them into traffic. When playing in the box, McKinley employs sound gap integrity.

Dietz: McKinley primarily aligned as the box safety in 2020 for the Ducks, but was the team’s starting free safety when Jevon Holland was there years prior. The versatility pops off on tape - he shows incredible instincts when the ball is in the air and takes proper and efficient routes to make a play on the ball. In zone coverage, displays the aptitude and instincts to always been in position to make a play on the ball. Excels mostly in Cover 2, playing on equal ground with another safety and working off of each other.

Cons:

Ezring: Despite the Oregon standout’s impressive skill set, there are several deleterious aspects of his game that may hinder him at the next level. First and foremost, McKinley does not have outstanding long speed. As a result, he is not a reliable single-high option in the NFL. Against the run, the talented safety often struggles to work through blocks - especially against tight ends and linemen. What’s more, McKinley has trouble breaking down at the tackle point when forced to make sharp changes of direction while working at top speed. He also flashed inconsistent run defense between the tackles in 2019; however, he improved in that area in his second season. In man coverage, McKinley sometimes bites on route salesmanship and nuanced releases. In these situations, he lacks the recovery speed to stay in phase. In zone coverage, the versatile defender can be manipulated by the quarterback’s eyes. At the catch point, McKinley can be boxed out by large receivers. He also must work on his timing and overall ability at the catch point. There were several instances where McKinley missed opportunities by playing the ball improperly in the air.

Dietz: Disappointing athlete for a smaller player - some of the interceptions he caught were lucky tips and doesn’t exhibit the requisite burst and hip flexion you want from an NFL player. Man Coverage is where many of his warts are on full display - spatial awareness falls apart in these instances and receivers with more shiftiness completely dust him. Run defense is another negative - not bad tackling from a technical standpoint, but the path in which he attempts to make a play on the ball is typically very ineffective.

Summary:

Ezring: While he lacks ideal long speed and must fine-tune certain nuances in his game, Verone McKinley III is a versatile safety with the intelligence, spatial awareness, route recognition and man coverage ability to succeed in the NFL. He can start early at strong safety but should be moved around the defense to maximize his efficacy. 

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Dietz: Verone McKinley has a lot of starting experience for the Oregon Ducks, and 2020 was his chance to fully breakout with former Oregon/current Miami Dolphin Jevon Holland opting out. Unfortunately, his flaws were on full display most of the time - underwhelming traits, poor run defense and misused a ton in the box. He reminds me a lot strictly from his physical profile to Ar’Darius Washington, and I have a feeling the NFL will look at McKinley the same way they did him last draft cycle.

Background:

Born in Carrollton, Texas, Verone McKinley III played football at Hebron High School. The standout athlete grew up around football. His father played defensive back at Texas Tech and was his son’s position coach through the Oregon star’s senior year of high school. McKinley received several awards and honors while at Hebron. He was named first-team All-6A District 5 as both a junior and a senior. He was also listed on the 247Sports All-Midlands team. Further, McKinley participated in The Opening’s Dallas Regional. After his distinguished high school career, 247Sports Composite Rankings listed the star defensive back as a 3-star recruit. The same outlet saw McKinley as the 404th-best recruit nationally, the 38th-ranked cornerback recruit in the country and the 57th recruit in the state of Texas. After redshirting his first season at Oregon, the talented defender was an immediate impact player at safety for the Ducks. McKinley recorded 46 total tackles (29 solo, 17 assisted), one tackle for loss, two pass breakups and four interceptions in 2019. He was named to the FWAA Freshman All-America team and The Athletic Freshman All-America second team. In the shortened 2020 season, McKinley recorded 46 total tackles (24 solo, 22 assisted), two pass breakups, one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Through two seasons, the standout defensive back has already started 17 games. McKinley has spoken about the responsibility on his shoulders to lead the defense. He even referred to himself as the “general,” leading the unit from the secondary. Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal has said that “Verone is a tremendous blessing to all of us here and to those guys around him in the locker room. The respect by other players for him is extremely high.” Oregon’s new safeties coach, Marcel Yates, referred to the talented defensive back as “a leader, very smart. He’s a coach on the field.” The position coach has, further, praised McKinley’s hard work and dedication to watching film. 


One-Liners

Ezring: While he lacks ideal long speed and must fine-tune certain nuances in his game, Verone McKinley III is a versatile safety with the intelligence, spatial awareness, route recognition and man coverage ability to succeed in the NFL.

Dietz: McKinley has great awareness in zone coverage, but his athleticism is very concerning to be seen as a ballhawking, undersized free safety in the NFL.

Grades

Current Player Value/Potential Player Value

Ezring: 7.9 / 8.6

Dietz: 6.7 / 7.2


#23
Pos: SAF
Ht: 5110
Wt: 196
DOB: 6/29/_
Eligible: 2022
Carrollton, TX
Hebron High School

Verone McKinley III 
Oregon Ducks


Pros:

Ezring: While the safety position has been devalued in recent years, versatile defenders are sought-after commodities in the modern NFL. Verone McKinley III is a versatile defender who has lined up at boundary corner, nickel corner, single-high safety, two-high safety and in the box for the Ducks. The Oregon standout’s game is predicated on his intelligence. The star safety directs his teammates before and after the snap. In zone coverage, McKinley plays with outstanding route recognition, play recognition and spatial awareness. He clearly understands leverage and spacing, consistently positioning himself to obstruct throwing lanes. What’s more, the versatile defensive back boasts excellent vision and instincts to anticipate receivers’ movements and cut off their routes before they can come open. In addition to his intelligence, he mirrors the quarterback seamlessly thanks to his clean transitions, easy change of direction ability, solid lateral burst and loose hips. McKinley is at his best in underneath zones and deep halves. He typically maintains depth in deep coverage and has the click and close to thrive in robber and shallow work. In man coverage, the Oregon star is patient, physical and fluid to mirror. McKinley has the wherewithal to keep his hand in the receiver’s hip pocket while exhibiting the ability to use leverage and contact to stay in phase through sharp-breaking routes. Against the run, the do-it-all safety is willing, efficient and reliable. He typically plays the ballcarrier’s outside leg to either make the tackle or force them into traffic. When playing in the box, McKinley employs sound gap integrity.

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