The Georgia Southern speedster and former Sprayberry High School star was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the third round of the NFL draft Friday.
McKinnon was taken with the 96th overall pick, the 32nd of the third round.
McKinnon is the second-earliest draft pick in Georgia Southern history, and the fourth-earliest of any Cobb County product. Wheeler’s Robert Shaw was the 27th pick by Dallas in 1979, McEachern’s Adam Meadows went 48th to Indianapolis in 1997 and Marietta’s Eric Zeier went 84th to Cleveland in 1995.
Though the 5-foot-9, 209-pound athlete spent the majority of his college career as a quarterback, he also lined up as a running back and even on occasion in the defensive secondary. His most likely position in the NFL will be as a running back, where his speed will be tested in the chilly temperatures of the Vikings’ temporary home.
As the Vikings wait for a new stadium to be built to replace the Metrodome, Minnesota will play the next two years outdoors, at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium.
A constant performer in his four years at Georgia Southern, helping the Eagles to the semifinals of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs three times, more widespread notoriety gained around McKinnon later in his career. He carried the ball nine times for 125 yards and the go-ahead touchdown in what turned out to be his final college game, Georgia Southern’s much-discussed upset of Florida.
Then came McKinnon’s breakout in the NFL combine in Indianapolis, where he was one of the star performers. He was clocked at 4.41 seconds in the 40-yard dash and had a 40½ inch vertical leap.
Now, McKinnon will get the chance to serve as an understudy to a running back likely bound for the Hall of Fame, the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson. He could be in line for some playing time right away after Minnesota lost Peterson’s primary backup, Toby Gerhart, via free agency.