"I watched (McKinney) play the inside linebacker spot and realized that he was in the right spot all along. When the Texans drafted him, I mentioned the fact that he could play some 3-4 outside linebacker at some point, but he’s progressed so far in his two seasons in Houston, that it’s hard to even think about him not playing in the middle of the Texans defense." -- John Harris, Texans sideline reporter
Thursday evening Texans linebacker Benardrick McKinney, aka B-Mac, signed a five year deal to stay with the Texans. I've written a lot about McKinney since the day he was drafted. Yet, it tends to encapsulate why he continues to provide excessive value for the Texans defense. Here are just a few snippets.
From my Football 101 in 2017 on McKinney
"In 32 games as a Texan, McKinney has registered 209 tackles and 8.0 sacks. He registered 129 tackles and 5.0 sacks as a second year player in 2016 and earned 2nd team All-Pro honors as voted on by the Associated Press.
It's those two stats, though, that help to tell the story about a guy listed only as an inside linebacker in your program. Yes, he's an inside linebacker, but he's one of the rare inside backers that can move to the outside and rush like a true outside linebacker as well. When I was asked about him heading into the 2015 Draft, I said that he was rare because he was the only linebacker I could recall that could ably play every single linebacker position in any scheme. As a rookie, he wasn't asked to take on too much in this defense, but in 2016, he displayed that versatility I raved about the year prior."
From my Texans Gameday article in 2016
"Then, I watched (McKinney) play the inside linebacker spot and realized that he was in the right spot all along. When the Texans drafted him, I mentioned the fact that he could play some 3-4 outside linebacker at some point, but he's progressed so far in his two seasons in Houston, that it's hard to even think about him not playing in the middle of the Texans defense."
From my Rookie Minicamp observations in 2015
"Before the first practice on Friday, I asked ILB Benardrick McKinney if he had butterflies or any nerves. Nope. I was sort of stunned so I asked again. Nervous at all? Same answer. Nope. I appreciated the honesty and the confidence. Then, when we went out to the field, I could see why. He barked out the calls on every defense. He got guys lined up. He was in charge from the first snap to the last. We only fear what it is we don't know and McKinney was clearly prepared. And, to think, none of us will see his best asset until the squad puts the pads on in late July/early August."
And, there's a ton more where that came from and certainly more in the future as McKinney inked his new deal to be in Houston for a while.
Typically on every defensive down, I examine the Texans defense to see who is on the field and how the Texans are aligned. Every single play. In week two of last year's preseason, the Texans played the Patriots after practicing with them at the Greenbrier for a couple of days. On a third and three early in the game, I noticed that the Texans had six defensive backs on
the field. I could see two linebackers standing up - Whitney Mercilus and Zach Cunningham. But, I couldn't find McKinney. I looked over to the sideline real quick and didn't see him there either. As the ball was snapped, I finally saw him, rushing from a three point stance from a three technique, the typical spot for a defensive tackle. The flexibility he provides this defense due to his versatility is immense, yet it hasn't stalled his production.
Over the years, he's lined up all over the formation, yet still found the football, often. In 43 starts, the former SEC star compiled 287 tackles and 9.0 sacks (6.7 tackles/game, 1 sack every 4.8 games). That type of production puts McKinney near the top of an elite group. Over the past three years...
Luke Kuechly (38 starts) 345 tackles, 4.5 sacks - 9.1 tackles/game 1 sack every 8.4 games
Bobby Wagner (47 starts) 415 tackles, 6.5 sacks - 8.8 tackles/game, 1 sack every 7.1 games
Derrick Johnson (44 starts) 277 tackles, 5.0 sacks - 6.3 tackles/game, 1 sack every 8.8 games
C.J. Mosley (46 starts) 341 tackles and 5.0 sacks - 7.4 tackles/game, 1 sack every 9.2 games
Alec Ogletree (35 starts) 273 tackles and 4.0 sacks - 7.8 tackles/game, 1 sack every 8.8 games
The Texans Man in the Middle is going to be around for a while and that's a great thing.
ILB Benardrick McKinney's career as a Texan and Mississippi State Bulldog is profiled here in pictures.