Atlanta Falcons: Breakout Candidate – Takkarist McKinley
When the Atlanta Falcons approached the 2017 NFL Draft, they knew they had to improve the defense. Yes, they have Vic Beasley and his 15.5 sacks, Desmond Trufant shutting down WRs, and 2016 draft pick Keanu Neal patrolling the backfield. However, that was not enough to win it all. So they drafted Takkarist McKinley.
McKinley played his college ball at UCLA. Here McKinley really made a name for himself during his senior season. Amassing 18 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, and breaking up 6 passes. This led to first-team All-Pac-12 honors. It also led to being selected in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
The Atlanta Falcons knew that they needed to get some pass rushing help for Vic Beasley. While he amassed 15.5 sacks it was not enough. The Super Bowl was proof of that. The New England Patriots shut out Beasley and his sacks count on their way to making history.
Thus the Falcons put a priority on the defensive line. In particular, pass rushing help. That is where the addition of Takkarist McKinley will be effective. The 6’2”, 250 lb edge rusher could start from day one.
He is a constant worker. He has a motor that never stops. He keeps his hand free so that he can shed blocks and make tackles. Takk has long legs that eat up a lot of ground when in pursuit of his target. His ability to adapt to the NFL game will be a telling sign early in his career. He is raw but talented.
Pairing this kid with Vic Beasley should give the Falcons a legit pass rushing presence. Beasley will acquire all the attention leaving free agent signing Dontari Poe and Takkarist McKinley open for QB pressures.
Takkarist McKinley should have a solid rookie season. Any sort of success from this kid should help improve the 25th ranked defense of a year ago. That will also help the Atlanta Falcons to have a possible post season return in their future.