In recent years, the NFL has seen an influx of top-notch cornerback talent enter the league. From guys like Sauce Gardener, and Pat Surtain II, to later-round prospects like Tariq Woolen, young cornerbacks are making their mark in a league where having a dominant No. 1 corner is more valuable than ever. The 2024 NFL Draft class is primed to keep this trend going, especially in the early going, where Kool-Aid McKinstry is ready to prove he has what it takes to be the next great Alabama defensive back to take the NFL by storm.
One look around NFL defensive backfields will reveal just how much high-level cornerback talent Alabama has produced over the last half-decade. Players like Surtain, Marlon Humphrey, and Trevon Diggs have all been high-level producers, while lesser players like Levi Wallace and Tony Brown have been valuable contributors. With that in mind, Kool-Aid McKinstry might just be the best prospect we’ve seen emerge from the talented program.
Standing at 6’1″ with the speed to keep up with speedy receivers down the field, McKinstry is uniquely talented to take on any receiver that lines up across from him. While some larger corners struggle to remain fluid, McKinstry is able to flip his hips and change directions with no issues. That size also allows McKinstry to hold his own when lining up with receivers that rely on physicality to get open. Not only can has he shown he can hold up against those tough assignments, he’s shown that more often than not, he will win the physical battles. Not too mention, when it comes to run-support, McKinstry has shown the ability to hold his own and make good decisions when tackling in the open field.
As with any prospect, there are flaws in McKinstry’s game, however, these flaws can be traced back to technical issues – something that will be fixed with continued development and NFL-caliber coaching. McKinstry has a tendency to get handsy in coverage from time-to-time, especially if the receiver is able to get an early step on him. While he certainly has the athleticism to recover, McKinstry tends to overreact to getting behind and compensates by getting a little too grabby downfield. McKinstry can also be a little to eager to jump routes, leading to big completions over the top when his timing isn’t perfect.
Even with these flaws in mind, it’s clear Kool-Aid McKinstry has what it takes to be a true shutdown corner at the next level. It’s not everyday that a corner with his length, fluidity, and physicality enters the league, but McKinstry’s unique blend of talents mean he is primed to be one of the NFL’s future stars at the position.