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Mississippi State's Benardrick McKinney intends to enter draft

Benardrick McKinney-150108-TOS.jpg

Mississippi State's Benardrick McKinney decided to return to college after a dynamic season as a third-year sophomore in 2013. But the school announced Friday that the All-SEC middle linebacker will apply for early entry into the 2015 NFL Draft.

McKinney suggested more than once over the past year that he expected 2014 to be his last season at the college level. He backed that up with a stellar season in which he was named a semifinalst for the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker. McKinney led the Bulldogs with 71 tackles this season, including eight for losses and three sacks.

"We fully support Benardrick's decision and know he is ready for the next level," Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen said in the release. "He has been a tremendous leader for our football team both on and off the field."

He's been compared to the likes of Rolando McClain and Brian Urlacher, two former first-round draft picks, by NFL scouts.

At 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, he has more than enough size to take on blocks and clog rushing attacks. He isn't as instinctive or agile in pass coverage, though, and plays the pass best when asked to patrol a zone rather than play man coverage. NFL Media analyst Charles Davis saw McKinney as a prospect who would benefit from another season in college.

The school's release pointed out that McKinney arrived at Mississippi State in 2011 as a two-star high school quarterback.

*Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter **@ChaseGoodbread*.

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