6-2/243 South Florida
Pros: An aggressive player with a good nose for the ball. Has good speed and comfortable working in space. Can make plays in pursuit. Does a good job attacking upfield and can shoot gaps to make stop in the backfield. Tackles well in the open field and a thumper. Capable pass rusher off the edge. Does a decent job at the point of attack and shows ability in short zones. Has the speed and quickness to have upside in man coverage.
Cons: Lacks size and needs to get stronger. Inconsistent at the point of attack, preferring to run around blockers and can get engulfed. Needs to improve his drops in zone coverage and his inconsistent awareness. Doesn't always play instinctually and often relies on athleticism and speed to make up for mistakes. Can be overaggressive which can lead to some silly penalties. Can also lead to missed stops in the open field as he'll take some poor angles at times. Not explosive off the edge to be a major factor as pass rusher.
Overview: McKenzie ﬂashes great potential, but is too inconsistent to really love him as a prospect. That inconsistency is most apparent in coverage and at the point of attack. Originally went to Michigan State, but then transferred the following year to Iowa State where he started at MLB. Then transferred to USF to be closer to his mother who was having health issues. He started immediately and was productive at SLB.
NFL Forecast: McKenzie projects best as a weakside linebacker at the next level, although he does have some potential to play SAM if he can improve at the point of attack. He's a bit more of a project for the SAM spot, but I think he could fit nicely there in a Tampa-2 scheme down the road. But McKenzie is a guy that might have to sit for two or so years as he develops. He has the potential to be an impact player and he'll ﬂash that Lance Briggs-like ability and potential. But he needs to be more consistent. I think he can eventually develop into that kind of player, but he'll need some time and polish.
ATL Forecast: McKenzie has a chance to be a capable starter for the Falcons, but he's probably not going to be ready to start soon. He would fit nicely spending two or so years developing behind Peterson and eventually be able to take the mantle as the team's playmaking linebacker. He could be an impact defender that is a force both against the run and pass. He has the potential to be a player similar to what the Falcons had in Michael Boley in 2007, but perhaps even better. But he'll need to be developed.
Value: McKenzie's upside is high, but he's a bit too raw and unpolished to take on the first day. Snag him in the third round instead.
Scouting Reports of inside and outside linebackers in the 2009 NFL Draft
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