The Houston Texans defense has their fair share of household names. Whether it is J.J. Watt or Jadeveon Clowney, they are playmakers that are known by everybody. However one of the most overlooked players in the NFL is Benardrick McKinney. McKinney has been flying under the radar due to playing with great players. Players including the aforementioned Watt and Clowney, in addition to Brian Cushing and Whitney Mercilus. McKinney is a rising star in the NFL who no longer can be overlooked.
Benardrick McKinney has only played in the NFL for two seasons but is making an impact that few notice. McKinney provides quality play at the linebacker position for an already stacked defense. Playing alongside great defensive players will make any player become overlooked.
McKinney is in position for a breakout season in 2017. This is due to consistent play time and improved production. McKinney started all 16 games in 2016 for the Texans and did not disappoint. McKinney’s 129 combined tackles ranks 11th overall among all NFL players. With 79 solo tackles that ranks 18th overall and 50 tackle assists which ranks seventh.
During the 2016 NFL season McKinney improved his sack production. Increasing from one sack in 2015 to five sacks in 2016. A possible reason for the uptick in sack production is the absence of J.J. Watt. With Watt sidelined and not racking up sacks, defenses focused on Jadeveon Clowney allowing others to make plays. The others consisted of Whitney Mercilus and McKinney.
With the return of Watt, improved play of Clowney and the already established great Texans defense, McKinney will be able to take another step forward this season. A step forward that will not be a surprise.