2024 Bears Draft Target: Kool-Aid McKinstry
Gary Cosby - USA Today Sports

2024 Bears Draft Target: Kool-Aid McKinstry

by - Senior Writer -

When you look back at the Bears season in 2023, the phrase missed opportunity comes around a lot. Apart from the Detroit Lions, who ran away with the division, no team in the NFC North was that great, and the Bears had a chance to make the playoffs.

Yes, they finished the season 7-10 and missed the playoffs, but there were at least four games throughout the season where the Bears had the lead with five minutes to go, but couldn't find a way to close things out. That happens when you are a young team as you are still learning how to win, but now that the Bears had a little taste of that during the season last year more could be on the way.

A big reason, and perhaps the biggest reason for the Bears' turnaround as the season went on, was their defense that went from being ranked near the bottom of the league to a top 10 unit. Given that most of those pieces will be back in 2024, they could become one of the best defenses in the game.

One position to keep an eye on regarding the draft for the Chicago Bears is the CB position, as they need to decide what they want to do with Jaylon Johnson. Sure, Johnson has made it a point to remain in Chicago long-term, and from all accounts, the Bears would like that as well, but the money still has to be there to make things work.

Should Johnson and the Bears fail to reach an agreement, the team will be in the market for a CB, which is where Alabama CB Kool-Aid McKinstry comes into play. By far the best name in the entire draft class, the 6-1 180-pound McKinstry is widely regarded as one of the two best CBs in the class, right up there with Cooper DeJean of Iowa.

McKinstry is the definition of a lockdown corner and playmaker and would be the perfect replacement to pair with Kyler Gordon should the Bears not bring back Johnson. Even if they bring back Johnson, McKinstry would still fit in nicely, as the Bears could move Gordon to the slot and put McKinstry on the outside with Johnson.

A three-year starter for the Crimson Tide, McKinstry is coming off an impressive 2023 season where he finished the year with 93 tackles, 62 solo, 5.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, 23 passes defended, and two interceptions. The passes defended is what stands out the most as he could have had more interceptions but instead settled for the broken-up passes.

In a league where the rules are geared to benefit a WR, McKinstry is one of the most physical corners in the game and will not make life easy for any WR. That could have him prone to pick up a few flags in the NFL, but you would rather have that than have someone get away from their physical nature.

While most corners shy away from hitting or making tackles, McKinstry loves to hit people and isn't afraid to chase down the ball carrier, no matter the situation. He is a great press coverage corner who rarely leaves that style and always stays calm when in coverage.

What stands out the most is what frustrates WRs the most, which is his ability to start and stop on a dime. That means he can break stride and come to a complete stop on a dime, which makes life miserable for a WR trying to separate. There are some things that McKinstry needs to work on, which is something he will work on from the day he steps on the practice squad.

Although a great athlete, especially in short burst situations, he struggles to keep up with speedy WRs over long stretches, which allows them to get by him for deep ball receptions. Despite his overall physicality on the line, there are times when he gets stiff hips, which makes it easy for WRs to get past him.

McKinstry also opens his hips early too often, making him susceptible to inside moves. With his limited top-end speed, it can be a significant hindrance. All of those are technique issues more so than physical issues, which is something a summer in training camp can help with. McKinstry is another of the many talented CBs that hail from the Alabama tree and will instantly make any team's defense better.

Although he is not the best athlete in terms of some of the other CBs in this year's class, he makes up for that by being one of the more, if not the most technically gifted, CBs in the draft. Regarding an NFL comparison, it is hard to pinpoint a specific player right now, but some have said he is a smaller version of Darius Slay Jr, who is one of the game's best CBs.

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