Verone McKinley III NFL Draft Prospect Profile and Scouting Report

NFL Draft Profile: Verone McKinley III, S, Oregon

Name:  Verone McKinley III

School: University of Oregon

Year: R-Junior

Position: Safety

Measurables: 5’10”, 198 lbs (Combine Measurements)

 

Stats: 

 

General Info:

After a stellar high school football career split between two Texas schools, Verone McKinley was a heavily recruited prospect. 247 Sports had him ranked as a composite three-star prospect, and the 404th recruit nationally. He was a top 40 CB recruit, and the 57th overall Texan. With interest from 28 plus notable football schools, McKinley had the luxury of choice, and settled on Oregon as his destination for college ball.

McKinley appeared in just three games as a redshirt freshman in 2018, recording three tackles.

In his first full-time season in 2019, McKinley established himself as a very promising talent on Oregon’s defense. He led the Pac-12 in interceptions (4), recorded 46 total tackles, and played 747 snaps. He was named to multiple All-Freshman teams and was named to a Pro Football Focus team of the week during the season.

As a sophomore, McKinley started six out of seven games for Oregon during the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season. He once again recorded 40+ tackles, though he had only one interception during the season. There were flashes of individual dominance during the year, particularly during the Ducks game against UCLA, where he recorded a pick, a fumble recovery, and seven tackles. He also had a standout performance in the Siesta Bowl where he had eight total tackles (five solo).

After two years of very good and occasionally great play, McKinley took a HUGE step forward as a junior in the 2021-2022 season. As one of Oregon’s starting safeties, McKinley played in all 14 games and absolutely took over. He recorded 44 solo tackles on the season, after averaging 43.5 total tackles his first two years starting for the Ducks. He also recorded six interceptions and six passes defensed, with the former value tying for the lead in NCAA Football. McKinley’s phenomenal year led to him being named First Team All Pac-12 and transformed into a legitimate draft prospect.

After the season, McKinley was added to the Senior Bowl roster and invited to the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine. So far as I can tell, he did not particularly stand-out at the former event, as there is a lack of information about his performance other than the articles announcing his addition to the roster. At the Combine, McKinley participated in just three measurable drills: the Bench Press, Vertical Jump, and Broad Jump, where he showed decent strength and explosiveness. He also participated in position drills, where he demonstrated the range and instinct that made him a great ballhawk at Oregon. He is expected to run more drills during Oregon’s Pro Day on April 1st.

Positional Skills:

Strengths

  • Really great ball production in college, recording 11 interceptions and 10 passes defensed in three years. His hands and body control rival that of a receiver.
  • Great football IQ, which has allowed him to overcome athletic limitations. McKinley is a quick processor against both run and pass and recognizes plays quickly.
  • Willing tackler who routinely takes good angles and does not shy away from contact.
  • Surprisingly bursty when he breaks on balls.
  • Excellent footwork and fluid hips.
  • Highly regarded as a locker room presence.
  • Has special teams experience.

Weaknesses

  • Really an average athlete, at best. Not particularly fast, strong, or agile.
  • Undersized as a safety, at 5’10” and under 200 lbs. He doesn’t have the athleticism to compensate for that lack of size like similarly built safeties.
  • Although a willing tackler, his short arms sometimes make it difficult for him to wrap-up and take down a ball carrier.
  • Like many ballhawks, he will occasionally give up some ugly receptions because he jumped a route prematurely.
  • His athletic and size deficits limit the schemes he can play in. His lack of range, for example, could make him a liability as a one-high safety, and his below average size will prevent him from having much of an impact as a box player.

Fit with the Packers:

Verone McKinley reminds me a lot of Lamarcus Joyner, the former Rams second round pick. Though McKinley has better NFL size than my comp for him, he has similar strengths and weaknesses as a draft prospect. Both safeties are undersized, under-athletic prospects who compensate with really good instincts and strong ball production in college. They are also recognized as good locker room presences and are able to contribute on special teams.

McKinley seems well suited to take over the vacant third safety role for Green Bay, and potentially pick up some snaps out of the slot. With his effort and instincts, he will be able to produce if he is put in a position to succeed, and I think serving as a nickel safety for the Packers would be that position. He’d get a chance to find his home in the defensive backfield without needing to be forced into sub-optimal situations, and could give Packers fans shades of young Micah Hyde: a somewhat positionless DB who can be trusted in a variety of spots. I like him as a third or fourth rounder safety for Green Bay, and if they really like him… those two second round picks have to be used on somebody!

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3 points

Comments (13)

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Gee's picture

March 31, 2022 at 03:32 pm

future inside linebacker!!!

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splitpea1's picture

March 28, 2022 at 08:22 pm

I've liked what I've read from a variety of scouting reports, including this one: great instincts, doesn't shy away from contact, versatile, takes good angles, etc. Despite being a bit undersized, the Packers could use a player like this to step in for a variety of situations, including special teams--we need quality safety depth badly. Love to see Gute pull the trigger if he's available at the right spot, but it's probably a slim chance.

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MarkinMadison's picture

March 28, 2022 at 09:14 pm

If the idea is to find an heir apparent for Amos, then I don't think this is your guy.

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TheKanataThrilla's picture

March 30, 2022 at 03:32 pm

My hope is we extend Amos for another 4 years and we push that problem down the road. Nothing wrong with Amos' play and he is a very likable player who I hope we keep around.

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LLCHESTY's picture

March 29, 2022 at 02:35 am

I think Nick Cross or Bryan Cook for what the Packers need at safety in that draft range, although I think Cook probably falls a bit now. He's recovering from shoulder surgery(always iffy for a safety) and didn't test at the combine or his pro day. Cross has all the athleticism in the world but is pretty green. I think he could come in and play deep right away and allow Savage and Amos to move around up front.

Bubba Bolden late is another skilled deep safety but he probably goes in the 6th and the Packers don't have one at this time.

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 29, 2022 at 09:31 pm

If not for the WR needs, they could take Brisker. I have Cross in my mocks, Cook is for real.

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greengold's picture

March 29, 2022 at 06:14 am

105 tackles, 15 TFL, 4 Sacks, 3 INT, 10 PD, 3 FF - That’s the number line with far better “hustle,” numbers (TFL, sacks, FF) that you look for in a well rounded Safety, one who is already on Green Bay’s roster: Innis Gaines. 6-2 207 out of TCU.

MarkInMadison, you make a great point. Gaines is very Amos-like in his offerings coming in. Now he’s had a full year developing under the best DB coach in the game, Jerry Gray. Gaines has immense toughness and a special knack for making great football plays.

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LambeauPlain's picture

March 29, 2022 at 11:04 am

Yeah, I don't see Gaines as the next man up at S.

He had two injury shortened seasons his Junior and Senior years at TCU. He went undrafted and unwanted in 2020.

Averaging 26 tackles and 4 TFLs per season is rather pedestrian for a starting S.

Signed by GB in 2021, was cut, added to the practice squad but elevated to 53 for the Browns game. He has played in one game and has one tackle in the NFL.

For a team with suspect STs, he was not even good enough to play STs? He couldn't beat out Black who was allowed to walk?

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 29, 2022 at 09:33 pm

I liked Shawn Davis when he was on the field, # 30.

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greengold's picture

March 29, 2022 at 09:59 pm

Yeah, I know all that stuff, but, I just like the guy. He’s somehow still here as a possible development piece. Eh… no biggie. However, you can’t argue those hustle play stats in limited reps. When he was on the field, he made plays, instinctual plays.

The article points to a player making huge leaps in tackles numbers, yet he didn’t have a single TFL nor a single sack in 4 years. Give me the guy making hustle plays, if he can stay on the field!

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LLCHESTY's picture

March 29, 2022 at 01:57 pm

Easy now, maybe have him make the roster and play STs first. I thought Gaines or Uphoff should've made the team for their STs value but it was such a s**t show it probably wouldn't have mattered.

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HarveyWallbangers's picture

April 07, 2022 at 11:55 pm

Tested very poorly (4.67 40, a terrible 1.69 10yd split, and 2.26 RAS score)

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