Oregon safety Verone McKinley III declares for the 2022 NFL Draft
After one of the great careers by an Oregon defensive back, Verone McKinley III is moving on to the NFL.
The junior safety officially announced his plans to forego his remaining collegiate eligibility and enter the 2022 NFL Draft on Sunday.
It’s been a pleasure. #General 🪖 pic.twitter.com/qCb8Hukyiq
— Verone McKinley III (@vmckinley3) January 2, 2022
“WOW! What an unbelievable journey I have had as a Duck at the University of Oregon,” he wrote on Twitter. “I knew four years ago when I committed to come to Eugene and be a part of the Duck Family that I was embarking on an opportunity to be a part of something very special.
“… As I reflect on the time I have spent in Eugene, I am filled with emotion. I have accomplished so much and have had some of the most memorable times of my life in this city. I am grateful for all that I have seen, all that I have done, and all whom I have met along the way. Once a Duck, always a Duck! I am excited about the future and what lies ahead.”
McKinley started all 14 games for the Ducks this season. A true stalwart at safety, he has played in each of Oregon’s last 35 games. The 2020 campaign saw him make 41 stops in seven games to go with three pass breakups, an interception and a forced fumble. In 2019, he was an FWAA Freshman All-American after posting 46 tackles, six pass breakups, and four interceptions.
But it was his 2021 campaign that made him great. The Texas native’s 78 tackles ranked second among Pac-12 defensive backs. His six interceptions tied for the most in the nation and were good for seventh-most in a season by an Oregon defender all-time.
McKinley earned First Team All-Pac-12 recognition this season and consensus All-American honors. Joined defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux as consensus All-Americans, they became just the ninth and 10th Ducks to earn that recognition and the first pair of defenders to do so in the same season in school history.
A 5-foot-11, 194-pound safety, McKinley joins Thibodeaux, wideout Devon Williams, and corner Mykael Wright as Oregon underclassmen who have declared for the NFL Draft. McKinley had another two seasons of eligibility. He’s graded as the 124th overall prospect in Todd McShay’s draft rankings.