DB Verone McKinley III, Oregon**

5’11” – 194 lbs.

Background:

Played cornerback in high school. Redshirted three games into his true freshman season, then took over a starting role the following season (eleven of fourteen games), finishing with 46 tackles, four interceptions, and two breakups. Picked up 41 tackles, one interception, and two breakups over seven games in 2020, then enjoyed his most productive season this past year before declaring (77 tackles, six interceptions, six breakups.)

Positives:

Productive three-year starter who made a ton of plays on the ball. Overall size is adequate for a pro free safety. Was typically playing way back off the line of scrimmage as a high safety, often in cover-one; also shaded over an opposing slot receiver at times while remaining well off the line of scrimmage. Background as a cornerback in high school is evident in his technique. Has nice balance and clean footwork when backpedaling to depth; consistently gets deep enough to keep the play in front of him. Processes route combinations well. Smooth transitions from backpedaling to driving on a spot, with what look like solid play recognition skills. Times hits well on throws over the middle. Despite his on-ball production, does a good job of staying over routes and playing with responsibility on the back end. Loose hips to take over when opposing receivers enter his zone. Solid speed to stick with receivers on posts or over routes. Takes pretty efficient angles to the ballcarrier when playing downhill. Breaks down well in the open field.

Negatives:

Usage was mostly limited to deeper zones; didn’t see him playing down in the box very often or working in man coverage. Overall physical and athletic traits are above-average but not elite; smoother than he is explosive, without exceptional recovery speed. Could flatten out a little bit through breaks in coverage; might be a little bit too conservative at times despite his on-ball output. Likes to stick his nose in when supporting the run but doesn’t have a ton of stopping power.

Summary:

A reliable deep-zone safety who plays the game with patience and sound technique, diagnoses well, and showed exceptional ball skills, he understands his responsibilities as the team’s last line of defense and consistently keeps the play in front of him. While he may not have played too many snaps in the box or in man coverage, he should fit well as a potential starter in a conservative defense.

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