After an initial Yahoo! report yesterday hinted that it was coming, today the highly expected news became official: MSU MLB Benardrick McKinney has declared for the 2015 NFL Draft.
Benardrick McKinney is officially declaring for the 2015 NFL Draft, the Mississippi State linebacker tells me. A projected 1st round pick.— Bob Carskadon (@bobcarskadon) January 9, 2015
The news was expected by everyone who has watched McKinney dominate offenses throughout this season. The junior even flirted with the NFL last year following a redshirt sophomore campaign, but he returned for what ended up as one final season, amassing 71 tackles and eight tackles for loss en route to an All-American season. He is a pretty safe bet to be selected in the first round of the upcoming draft.
McKinney may be as good a testament as there is to Dan Mullen's ability to develop small town, relatively unknown Mississippi prospects. Benardrick came into Mississippi State in 2011 as a two-star, lanky QB recruit from Rosa Fort School in Tunica. He left much a much more physical specimen: 6'5" 249 lbs. You can teach a lot of things in football, but you can't teach size. And thanks to a weight program and an opportunity from Dan Mullen, Benardrick will head to the NFL fully prepared to be a first round middle linebacker.
I will certainly miss seeing him in maroon and white next season, but I wish Benardrick all the best at the next level. Hail State, big guy.