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Film room: Kool-Aid McKinstry, a potential trade back option?

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By: Matt Holder

Kool-Aid McKinstry | Photo by Ryan Kang/Getty Images

Breaking down another cornerback option for the Raiders

The Las Vegas Raiders are expected to explore the cornerback market during the NFL Draft, so one guy to keep an eye on is Alabama’s Kool-Aid McKinstry.

While McKinstry ranks 26th overall on NFL Mock Draft Database’s consensus big board and thus, might not be a great option with pick No. 13, he should be on the team’s radar if the Raiders opt to trade back in the first round.

As a roughly two-and-a-half-year starter in college, the Alabama product showed off some shutdown skills against elite competition in the SEC by allowing a 47.9 completion percentage during his career, per Pro Football Focus. That was due to a combination of a high football IQ and some impressive movement skills, both of which are evident on tape.

Something that stands out about McKinstry’s game is he’s good at using his hands to help stay in phase in coverage. Here, Ole Miss dials up a play-action pass and he initially comes downhill to fulfill his run responsibilities before quickly recognizing the ball fake and dropping into coverage.

This a tough cover because the wide receiver playing tight end gets a bit of a head start by selling the stretch run block before turning upfield on the go route. That puts the corner at a disadvantage because he has to transition north to south while having to cover a speedy wideout.

To help himself, McKinstry gets his hands on the receiver in the legal contact window, slowing the receiver down as he flips his hips and gets in position. From there, McKinstry has the speed to stay in his man’s hip and eventually cut off the route. Even if this was an accurate pass, there’s little to no room for a completion.

We’ll see a similar rep here only McKinstry is in press coverage this time. At the line of scrimmage, he stays patient by waiting to open his hips to turn and run until the receiver commits to the outside/the go route. After that, he uses his inside hand to disrupt the route and help stay in phase.

Once again, we see his speed to carry the deep route and stay in the receiver’s hip throughout the rep. This is about as air-tight coverage as can be as there is no room for the quarterback to drop that ball in for a completion.

This rep is probably the best one of the bunch that shows off McKinstry’s football IQ.

Alabama is in man coverage, playing Cover 1, putting him in a one-on-one situation against the outside receiver versus this trips bunch set from Ole Miss. It’s third down so he parks himself at the sticks and reads the receiver’s release.

At the top of the route, McKinstry does a great job of sinking his hips and it’s clear he knew what was coming as he makes the cut on the dig route before the receiver does. This is a great example of “running the route for the man” which can only be done by taking what he learned in the film room and using it on the field.

To finish, the Alabama product undercuts the receiver and is in a perfect position to get the PBU here and force a field goal. Granted, he’d probably say he should have picked this one off judging by his reaction, but we’ll take forced incompletions any day of the week.

This next clip speaks to the cornerback’s ability to read the quarterback’s eyes. Right before the snap, Alabama rotates the boundary safety into the flat to take the receiver motioning across the formation, changing the play-call from a two-high to a one-high coverage.

Post-snap, McKinstry reads the release of the outside receiver on his side of the formation, Georgia tight end Brock Bowers. Once he sees Bowers sit on the deep curl route and stay in the deep safety’s area, McKinstry gets his eyes back on the quarterback.

Then, the cornerback recognizes that the ball is going to the post route from the receiver on the other side of the formation, so he drops and helps his teammate in coverage. Again, while McKinstry is upset with himself that he didn’t get the interception here, this is a great job of high-pointing the ball to go get a PBU.

To shift gears here, the Alabama product isn’t an overly physical run defender but he is willing to come up and be in the mix to do his part, especially in big situations. Here, the Crimson Tide are up 10 in the third quarter with the Bulldogs driving and facing third and one.

Georgia calls an outside zone run and is trying to pin the perimeter defenders inside by having the two receivers on the playside of the formation crack block. McKinstry recognizes the play design by working over the top of the receivers, comes downhill and is willing to get involved in the tackle to make sure the running back doesn’t pick up the first down.

Again, he’s not strong at the point of attack and going to be shedding blocks left and right against the run, but he does at least show the effort and desire to get involved in the run fit. It’s hard to ask for much more than that from a sub-200-pound corner and any defensive backs coach or coordinator would be happy to work with someone who is a willing run defender.

Originally posted on Silver And Black Pride