A sack for Takk! That’s a saying we may hear a lot of in the NFL. Takkarist McKinley had a breakout senior season for UCLA which saw him post career-highs with 18 tackles for loss and 10 sacks and be named 1st Team All-Pac 12. McKinley was a disruptive force for the Bruins and emerged as a premier pass rushing prospect and has even flirted with 1st round status.
In a deep class full of edge rushers, McKinley may slide into the 2nd round as he will undergo shoulder surgery following the NFL combine which will force him out 5-6 months and an absence from Training Camp. Still, McKinley boasts tremendous upside at the next level due to his superb athletic ability.
Despite his pending shoulder surgery, McKinley is expected to perform drills at the combine, including the 40 yard dash. At 6’2”/265, McKinley is expected to run a 4.5 40 – which is absurd for a man his size. McKinley takes pride in his running ability and actually considers it a hobby of his. In high school he was a track standout and was recorded at 10.58 seconds in the 100 yard dash.
The former JUCO transfer out of Contra Costa College, McKinley’s standout senior campaign has launched him up draft boards and into the eye of NFL scouts. While he is a tremendous athlete, that doesn’t always translate to the next level. Below I outlined the strengths/weaknesses of his game and what I saw on the tape.
Name: Takkarist McKinley
Comparison: Bud Dupree (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Draft Grade: Late 2nd Round
By far the most impressive play I’ve seen from Takk McKinley. Adjusts to the cut block, levels the QB, FF and finishes w/ a block downfield. pic.twitter.com/2TtTatefJB
— Jonathan Valencia (@JonValencia_WiB) February 26, 2017
Positives: Explosive athlete who displays a quick first step. Smooth lateral movement and sets his feet well to shoot inside. Gets a lot of push when he bends enough. Long speed is evident. Has the ability to chase down running backs downfield if he gives the effort. A disruptor who can get into the backfield numerous times per game. Adept at getting hot and can put together consecutive good plays on a string of snaps. A game-changer with his ability to force fumbles. Reaches hand out to knock the ball from QB when on-block in the backfield. Will spin off the block if he doesn’t win on initial engagement/battle. Usually adjusts well to cut blocks and stays upright with good balance. Long arms. Turns only 22 years old in November and has a lot of room to grow.
Negatives: Treats every play like he’s working off a short hourglass. A lot of inconsistencies to his game. Technique and hand usage demands sharpening. Tends to rely on quickness and strength to beat linemen. Lacks top-end strength for an edge rusher. Fails to get consistent push. Driven back on occasion. Doesn’t shift momentum effectively. Run defense is a clear weakness. Angled away/sealed off most of the time. Will set the edge against the run, but fails to make anything happen as the play develops and will typically set up shop in that spot. Shows hesitancy. Keeps his body too stiff and straightforward as an edge setter and needs to angle his body. Expected to see more efficiency in short area quickness from an athlete with his reputation. Poor tackler. Ball carriers tend to slip out of wrap-up tackles. Struggles to finish plays even when he gets in the backfield. Tackle radius is limited. Doesn’t always give effort in pursuit. Looks confused against shift blocks. Manhandled most of the Utah game against top OT prospect Garrett Bolles. Shoulder surgery following the combine will keep him out about 5-6 months. Undisciplined. Will let his emotions get the best of him when he makes a mistake.
Outlook: Of all the edge rushers in this year’s class, Takkarist McKinley has arguably the most upside. He has insane athletic ability and the physical tools defensive coordinators drool over. On the flipside, his game demands a lot of polish. He is still young, and has room to grow. Much better suited in a 3-4 scheme as a standup linebacker coming from the outside. With his upcoming shoulder surgery considered, I like him late in the 2nd round. McKinley is still young and lives under a high ceiling. He reminds me a lot of Bud Dupree with his size, speed, quickness off the snap, and rawness coming out of school.