One of the most surprising deals of free agency will be Jerrick McKinnon’s with the 49ers: It is expected to be a four-year deal worth $30 million — an average of $7.5 million per year, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 14, 2018
One way for a player to maximize their value is to have a career year in the final year of their contract. McKinnon achieved that feat in 2017 with the Minnesota Vikings. He carried the ball 150 times for 570 rushing yards (a career best). He also had 51 receptions for 421 yards–both career highs.
According to PlayerProfiler, McKinnon ranked 25th in evaded tackles (48), and 25th in yards created (269). He did this despite sharing the backfield with Latavius Murray. And despite having an offensive line that ranked 24th in run blocking efficiency.
In short, McKinnon’s 2017 achievements were noteworthy. Which likely played a role in his off-season quest to become a featured back. He also might not have achieved those numbers if not for an injury to Dalvin Cook.
In 2016 a different injury pushed McKinnon into the spotlight. Adrian Peterson suffered a meniscus tear in week two of that season, which caused him to miss 11 games. That season McKinnon saw a career-high 159 carries for 539 rushing yards. In terms of receiving, he had 43 receptions for 255 receiving yards. The efficiency, in terms of averages of yards per touch, took a hit. Since McKinnon had impressive yards per carry averages in his previous two seasons, his numbers in the 2016 season looked disappointing in comparison. However, the poor offensive line play (ranked 32nd by PlayerProfiler) didn’t help those averages.
What did help McKinnon and his NFL career was his performance at the NFL Combine. McKinnon’s numbers, when added up, characterized him as nothing less than a physical freak. At the Combine, he ran a 4.41 40 yard dash. He also had a vertical jump of 40 1/2″, a broad jump of 132″, and he put 32 reps at the bench press while only weighing 209 pounds.
These workout numbers and the 3,899 rushing yards McKinnon had while playing both quarterback and tailback for Georgia Southern played a factor in the Viking’s decision to draft the Georgia athlete with a third-round pick in 2014.
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