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SEC in the NFL Draft: Auburn LB Cassanova McKinzy

Cassanova McKinzy was a three-year starter on Auburn’s defense – and at three different positions. But though he proved his versatility with the Tigers, there may not be a clear-cut NFL position for him.

Gridironnow’s Amanda Borges looks at the pros and cons of McKinzy as an NFL prospect.

McKinzy (6 feet 1, 248 pounds) started at outside linebacker (in 2013), middle linebacker (in 2014) and as an edge rusher, what then-coordinator Will Muschamp called “buck” linebacker (in 2015), for Auburn. McKinzy is a physical player who can be a punishing tackler. He is at his best when he can go straight ahead, either as a pass rusher or as a run defender. McKinzy made at least 74 tackles in each of the past three seasons, and he was the only Tigers player in double-digits in tackles for loss in 2015 with 10. He also had five sacks and 20 quarterback hurries; he was the team leader in both those categories as well.

But while McKinzy is physical and aggressive, numerous scouts question his instincts and overall feel for the game. His coverage ability is lacking, as is his overall athleticism. He potentially has situational value as a pass rusher and he certainly holds up well against the run. He fits best in a 3-4 set, and he could become a high-level special teams player because of his physical nature.

McKinzy missed most of the Birmingham Bowl win over Memphis with a minor knee injury, then skipped the drills at February’s NFL Scouting Combine because of a hamstring issue. He was clocked in 4.84 seconds in the 40 at Auburn’s pro day last week.

McKinzy, who never redshirted, is a fringe draftee and could end up as a priority free-agent signing.

(Feature photo by SHANNA LOCKWOOD/USA TODAY SPORTS)

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