The Vikings selected Jerick McKinnon in the 3rd round of the 2014 draft out of Georgia Southern to serve as the lighting to Adrian Peterson’s thunder. A former college quarterback, McKinnon converted to running back full-time once he moved to the NFL. When Peterson went down for the year in 2016, McKinnon failed to capitalize on the opportunity and was part of one of the league’s least effective backfield combinations with Matt Asiata. The team ranked dead last in rushing with 75.3 yards per game.
This year, McKinnon looked to take a backseat until second-round pick Dalvin Cook went down with an ACL tear. He played in a committee with Latavius Murray for the rest of the season, splitting caries and handling third-down and two-minute duties. The team featured him on a variety of different running schemes and occasionally split him out wide as a receiver. McKinnon possesses below average height with a thin frame and very good athletic ability with elite change of direction, very good quickness and acceleration, good body control and explosion, and solid balance.
|Prospect (Last, First)
|Scout Name (Last, First)
|INJURIES||2017 – no games missed
2016 – Ankle(1 Game, WK8)
2015 – no games missed
2014 – Back(6 Games, WK12-17)
|KEY STATS||2017 – 3 Fumbles, 75.0% Catch Rate, 150 Carries, 570 Yards, 3 Touchdowns, 3.8 Average
2016 – 0 Fumbles, 159 Carries, 539 Yards, 2 Touchdowns, 3.4 Average
|Height||Weight||40 YD||10 YD||Arm||Hand||Vert||3Cone||SS||Broad||Bench|
|5087||209 lbs.||4.41s||1.55s||30 2/8”||8 5/8”||40.5”||6.83s||4.12s||110”||32 reps|
McKinnon plays with excellent patience in the backfield. He knows how to read his line’s press the line of scrimmage on inside zone to draw the linebackers forward to create space before accelerating across the best gap. He’s patient to let his blocks develop and follow his escort’s on pulls and powers. On outside zone runs, he displays good judgement and decisiveness to hit the inside bend/bang reads. He can execute tight jump cuts in the backfield and identify cutback lanes to break outside when defenders blow up the play.
Once he’s made his decision, McKinnon’s combination of lateral and downhill burst jumps off the tape. He can stab his foot into the ground to press tight angles from the 2nd level and get upfield. He has excellent swivel in his hips to feign a forward path and take a steep angle outside to clear the linebackers. McKinnon shows very good leg strength to stack jump cuts in the open field and make defenders miss in the hole. He’s strong enough to run through arm tackles with the contact balance to keep his feet when defenders reach for his angles. At the second level, he lowers his pad level into contact to consistently fall forward. He’s fast enough to take the ball to the house.
McKinnon is a good passing game player that can sink his weight at the top of routes to separate from linebackers in space. He squares his body to the quarterback’s eyeline and displays active, easy hands at the catchpoint and gets upfield quickly after the catch. He knows how to use his blocks on screens. Despite his size, he can more than hold his own in pass protection. McKinnon shows commitment on chip blocks, identifies blitzing linebackers and defensive backs and squares up with inside hand placement, bringing his hips into contact to steer pressure away from the quarterback.
When the picture muddy’s, McKinnon’s decision making behind the line starts to break down. He’ll hesitate when the hole isn’t clear and isn’t eager to take what’s there when the blocks don’t develop well. He’s a daylight runner that looks for space when he sees an opening.
He runs high into contact in the hole and will slow his feet into contact to go down easily in tight quarters. McKinnon has a tough time getting skinny to tightrope through small cracks. He racked up three fumbles in 2017. In the passing game, McKinnon is taken out of the game by good press coverage.
Despite his lesser role, McKinnon thoroughly outshined his teammate, Latavius Murray, in 2017. He’s worth a look as a starter in a committee in any offense that runs a predominantly zone running scheme and asks their backs to play a major role in the passing game. Despite his small frame, he’s been durable throughout his career. He most likely would not be a fit in Detroit due to the presence of two finesse backs in Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah, but we’ve seen the Patriots add a stable of backs with similar skillsets in the past. He could be a value buy in a weak running back market.
Grade: 6.00 (Starter You Can Win With)