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Give Verone McKinley III time and he can take Command of the Secondary

New free safety?

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Verone McKinley III, S

School: Oregon | Conference: PAC 12

College Experience: Redshirt Sophomore | Age: ?

Height / Weight: 5’10” / 198 lbs

Projected Draft Status: 4th – 6th Round

Player Comparison: Jordan Whitehead

College Statistics

Player Overview

A four-star cornerback out of Texas, Verone McKinley III could have attended any school in the country. He choose Oregon and became part of a talented secondary that included Javon Holland. McKinley III played cornerback, but moved to safety once Holland opted out of the 2020 season. Known as “The General” for his leadership, McKinley III models his game after Ed Reed. McKinley III turned in an impressive season leading the NCAA in interceptions with six, resulting in him being named an All-American and a finalist for he Jim Thorpe Award, the nation’s best defensive back.

Strengths

· Instincts always seem to have him in place to make a play on the ball

· Incredible ball production; 11 total INTs in college

· Has great closing speed when the ball in the air

· Skill set and experience to play cornerback

Weaknesses

· Less than ideal size for safety

· Long speed is a question

· Could be more physical and use better form tackling

· Questions about his play in man coverage

Let’s see his work

How He Fits On The Team

Verone McKinley III was one of my favorite safety prospects during the college football season not just because of the interceptions, but he just always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. When the ball is in the air, he believes it’s his. He has instincts that he trusts and often takes him to the right place on the field. Those same instincts can get him in trouble, causing him to drop his assignment to try and make a play elsewhere. He can drop down and play in the slot, but he needs to be more physical when he’s playing around the line of scrimmage. Look at the last clip and you get a sense of his leadership and how passionate he is about the game.

The good news for Washington is the starting secondary appears to be in place with Bobby McCain returning to the team. Kam Curl can do almost anything asked of him, but deep coverage isn’t his strong suit. McKinley III could come in and immediately improve our deep safety play. Rivera and Del Rio seem to prefer interchangeable safeties that can play near the line of scrimmage and in coverage, something McKinley III has experience doing. McKinley III will have to get better around the line of scrimmage, but he could improve that behind our current starters. What I think could have McKinley III seeing the field soon is his leadership. If he comes in, learns the defense, and makes the calls, I could see him being our starting free safety for a long time.