Philadelphia Eagles 2015 Mock Draft Series Pt. 4


Sep 20, 2014; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs linebacker Benardrick McKinney (50) tackles LSU Tigers running back Terrence Magee (18) during the second half of a game at Tiger Stadium. Mississippi State defeated LSU 34-29. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles defense is improving, just as the Dallas Cowboys, but there is always room for improvement. After this season, the Eagles have some big decisions to make, many of those are on the defensive side of the football. So for the 4th week, of my Philadelphia Eagles 2015 Mock Draft Series will be a defensive pick. I will do a couple offensive players, I promise. If you want to see the previous posts, the links are here:

Philadelphia Eagles 2015 Mock Draft Series Pt. 1
Philadelphia Eagles 2015 Mock Draft Series Pt. 2
Philadelphia Eagles 2015 Mock Draft Series Pt. 3

Taking a look at the 2014 offseason moves the Philadelphia Eagles might have to make is kind of scary. Long time Eagles defensive stud pass rusher Trent Cole might become a cap causality. The Eagles defensive leader, inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans will be 31 years old and coming off his 2nd torn achilles of his career. Former Eagles 1st round pick Brandon Graham has shown surprising pass rush ability, but he will be a free agent and the Eagles haven’t exactly shown him much playing time. The 2014 1st round pick Marcus Smith has looked like a bust thus far and looks destined to be a backup player.

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All of these players share one thing in common, they are all part of the Philadelphia Eagles linebacker corps. The Eagles current cornerbacks could use an upgrade, but the one thing I have noticed is that when the front 7 are creating pressure, like against Dallas, the corners are serviceable. Don’t get me wrong, serviceable is not ideal, but improving the linebacker group could do wonders for this defense.

Thats why for part 4 of my 2015 Philadelphia Eagles Mock Draft series, I wanted to focus on Mississippi State Inside Linebacker, Benardrick McKinney.

A quick look at this seasons stats for Benardrick McKinney are as follows:

★ 61 total tackles (8 tackle for loss)
★ 3 sacks
★ 1 forced fumble
★ 3 fumble recoveries
★ 4 pass breakups

McKinney has shown his skill for all 3 years at Mississippi State. He tallied up 102 total tackles as a Freshman, followed that up with 71 tackles as a Sophomore and is having a great Junior season at a top caliber football institution. McKinney has the size that Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelly loves and while I haven’t see it personally, he is rumored to have 4.5 – 40 yard dash speed. You can be sure I will be watching his NFL Combine.

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If DeMeco Ryans comes back to play next season, all would not be lost by drafting McKinney. For starters, he would be learning from one of the best inside linebackers in the National Football League. McKinney also spends some time at outside linebacker so he could help fill a need at that position until he could take the reigns as the replacement for DeMeco Ryans.

If McKinney was asked to start from day 1 in the Eagles defense, he would be paired with fellow young, athletic inside linebacker Mychal Kendricks. Both players are very athletic and could become a very solid inside for the Philadelphia Eagles. The leadership that Ryans has brought to the Eagles is irreplaceable, but the skills that McKinney would bring could make that transition easier.

The Philadelphia Eagles current replacement for Ryans is Casey Matthews. He has largely been a joke amongst Eagles fans and hasn’t really shown more than a special teams player. I will admit, he has played a few good games recently, but I still wouldn’t feel comfortable with this guy as my full time starter. A Rookie inside linebacker is not an easy transition but I do believe that McKinney could make the transition.

At this point we don’t know who will play right outside linebacker, will Trent Cole restructure to stay, will the Eagles finally give Brandon Graham a chance to start or will Marcus Smith finally develop into the outside rusher the Eagles drafted him to be? Either way, one of those players, Mychal Kendricks, Benardrick McKinney and Connor Barwin would make in impressive unit.

Keep an eye on the development of Marcus Smith, his role could dictate what happens in the 2015 NFL Draft for the Philadelphia Eagles. While I hope he takes the next step to become a true NFL linebacker, I am not willing to hang my hat on it. Drafting Benardrick McKinney would surely add some much needed talent to the Philadelphia Eagles defense.