Benardrick McKinney Leads Mississippi State Bulldogs NFL Draft Prospects in '14

By Rick Stavig
Mississippi State Bulldogs, NFL Draft
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The Mississippi State Bulldogs aren’t known for pumping out NFL prospects left and right, but every year they have a couple of intriguing prospects with legitimate Draft Day dreams. In the 2014 NFL Draft, only Gabe Jackson (G, 3rd round) was selected, but MSU was a relatively young team last year. This year, those young players are looking to take the next step in their development, and there’s a couple players on both sides of the ball who have a real shot at being selected in the 2015 NFL Draft. So just who are the top pro prospects for the Bulldogs in ’14?

Remember, only top players eligible for the 2015 NFL Draft will be discussed, so don’t feel like I’m ignoring the future professional career of DT Chris Jones, who very much will be in the running for first round status as early as next year.

On offense, it’s all about junior QB Dak Prescott, one of the more productive Bulldog signal callers’ in years (and years). Prescott has a very impressive blend of size and athleticism at 6-foot 2, 235-pounds, and showed that athleticism en route to 829 rushing yards and 13 TDs on the ground in ’13. He is, in fact, one of the better dual threat QBs in the nation, but like I said regarding Auburn’s Nick Marshall, he has a long way to go developing an NFL-caliber arm. Don’t mistake that as he doesn’t have the arm capabilities for the pros, but we must be rational in acknowledging the process in front of him in terms of improving mechanics, accuracy and decision making. A 58% completion rate with a 10/7 TD to INT ratio doesn’t exactly scream NFL QB. But the raw skills are certainly there.

I’m not sold on him necessarily playing under center at the next level, but with his size and athleticism, he’ll find his way on to an NFL field somewhere, just probably at a different position than he’s been playing.

At WR is senior Jameon Lewis, an electrifying big play threat. He’s not very big at 5-foot 9, but he’s certainly got speed to burn. Lewis led the Bulldogs in receptions (64), receiving yards (923) and receiving TDs (5) last year, and should improve on those numbers in ’14. He’d benefit by playing in a more pro-style passing attack (and an elite passer), but should be considered one of the better slot receiving prospects for next years draft.

The defense is led by junior MLB Benardrick McKinney, arguably the best in the nation at his position. McKinney has a world of potential packed inside a gigantic 6-foot 5, 250-pound frame (with 7% body fat). This guy is truly an athletic marvel considering his combination of size, speed (4.56 40), explosion (rumored vert at 42-inches) and production (173 tackles and 4.5 sacks last two seasons). To boot, I think he’s only beginning to tap into his potential. Realistically, I think he has the skill set to play inside and outside in a 34 or a 43, and could even play DE in an even front. Seriously, the guy is that talented. He has an incredibly bright future at the next level.

Finally we get to junior CB Taveze Calhoun, a big (6-foot 1) and fast playmaker with a tremendous nose for the ball. He’s surprisingly powerful tackler and strong run stopper at 184-pounds, and is physical at the line of scrimmage. He’s also a very smart and savvy player, evidenced not only on film and in coverage, but with his SEC Academic Honor Roll-worthy 3.6 GPA. The Bulldogs have done a fine job of pumping DB’s in the pros recently (Darius Slay, Johnthan Banks, Charles Mitchell), and considering his upside and how well he projects as a press corner at the next level, Calhoun could be next.

Rick Stavig is an NFL Draft Columnist for Follow him on Twitter @rickstavig or add him to your network on Google+.


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