NFL Hot Press: Teams Don’t See Top-10 Talent in Kool-Aid McKinstry

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Under Nick Saban, the Alabama Crimson Tide program have been a factory for NFL defensive back talent, with a number of cornerbacks going high in the first round of NFL drafts. Given that tradition, many in the media have projected junior cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry to be a top-10 pick next April in the 2024 NFL Draft. However, of the NFL sources from seven different teams who spoke with, none of them had McKinstry projected as a high first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. All of them said they thought he would be a late first-round or early second-round pick instead.

At 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, McKinstry has good size for the NFL, and he has played a lot over the past three seasons. Sources note that McKinstry is big, has speed, is good in press-man coverage, but he is also rigid and does not have good stop-start quickness or explosion. Hence, McKinstry faces coverage limitations for the NFL. None of the team sources said they believed that McKinstry has the skill set of other recent top-10 cornerbacks like Devon Witherspoon, Sauce Gardner, Derek Stingley Jr. or Jaycee Horn.

One NFC director of college scouting told

“He is way overhyped and isn’t a top flight athlete …. He knows how to play, but isn’t freaky in any way. His body is odd, like a 40-year old man who works out at the YMCA, and he is a super lazy practice player. He thinks he can just show up and will himself to play because he’s very confident and football-smart. However, the lack of work ethic is showing up and will continue to deteriorate the player he is moving forward. He’s taken a slight step back this year.”

McKinstry did have better production in 2022 compared to what he has done this year. Thus far in 2023, he has 21 tackles and five passes broken up. In 2022, he became a full-time starter and recorded 35 tackles, a sack, an interception and 15 passes broken up. As a freshman in 2021, he collected 26 tackles and an interception.

Each one of the sources shared they felt that the cornerback starting across from McKinstry, Terrion “Ghost” Arnold, is the better pro prospect. Alabama is trying to convince Arnold to return to the program for next year by saying things like he could be a top-20 pick in the 2025 NFL Draft with more development and a good season. However, NFL team sources already like Arnold more than McKinstry. McKinstry is being projected as a late first- or second-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft to a team that likes to play press-man coverage.