Okay, so let’s get this off our chest from the jump. Takkarist McKinley has All-Name Team written all over him.
McKinley has had an interesting road to the NFL thus far. Out of high school he committed to Cal, but didn’t have the grades, so he went the JuCo route. He then transferred to UCLA, where he played for three seasons. After a 4 sack season during his junior year, he finally broke out during his senior campaign with 10 sacks, including 3 versus Utah.
McKinkley is a bit unique in that he played JuCo, but didn’t take a redshirt year, so he’s gonna be 21 for about half of his first season in the NFL, a very intriguing detail for most NFL teams. He also ran track in high school, and ran a 10.58 100m, which should give you a pretty good idea about how fast he’s going to run in the 40 at the Combine (i.e. fast).
McKinley is a twitchy athlete with immense upside, but will need some refinement at the next level. While there are areas he needs to improve, he flashes, so the potential for consistency in those areas is there.
While I don’t think he’s a starter immediately due to his inconsistent play against the run, he definitely shows some flashes there and could develop into a solid run defender to pair with his pass rushing ability in the future.
This is the peak of what McKinley’s run defense can be. Reading the tackle on 1st and 10 rather than watching the ball, he stones the offensive tackle with an effective punch, and holds his ground well. He leverages outside, making the running back cut back against the grain, before chasing down the back for a loss.
In the Packers’ scheme, McKinley would be the 7-technique rusher, so this is the type of gap discipline that would be needed.
Takk at times struggles setting the edge in the run game, but at only 21 years of age, he’s got ample amounts of time and talent to learn and apply the coaching he’ll receive at the NFL level to refine his game.
But let’s get to the part you’re all reading this for.
Pass Rush Ability
Takkarist McKinley is a pass rusher. First and foremost, he’ll be drafted to create havoc on opposing quarterbacks and strike fear into the heart of offensive coordinators and other corny football cliches.
This is the peak of what McKinley can be. He’s got a ways to go as far as a pass rusher, he’s like a twitchier Bud Dupree. His explosion up the field is very impressive, and his ability to #bend and flatten to the quarterback is something that not very many pass rushers, collegiate or in the NFL, are athletic enough to accomplish.
Utah was McKinley’s best game of the 2016 season, and it’s easy to see why. Here he is again, getting another sack against the Utes.
This is McKinley against Utah’s Garrett Bolles, a potential first-round pick at left tackle. Against one of the best tackles in the country, McKinley simply uses his burst and athleticism to beat him here. While Bolles gives a valiant effort, McKinley is too much for him, and uses his length to swipe at the ball, and forces the fumble. While the QB is able to pick up the ball, this play shows McKinley’s best abilities in a nutshell.
While he has a lot of work to do with his hands, McKinley is a large piece of marble, which is 85% sculpted and can be turned into a masterpiece by the right coaching. His impressive athleticism along with his sprinter’s speed will make him highly sought after following the Combine in Indianapolis.
Ultimately, I don’t think McKinley will fall to 29, barring some extremely unlikely poor athletic testing or interviews. However, I think he would be a great fit in Dom Capers’ defense.