2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles: UCLA EDGE Takkarist McKinley

We’re back again breaking down prospects for the 2017 NFL Draft, set to kick off on April 27th through the 29th. Our goal this season is to write reports on at least 150 players and hopefully, as many as 200. It will, of course, have a focus on Pittsburgh Steelers’ wants and needs but we will look big-picture too at the best players in this year’s draft.

If there’s a player you would like us to breakdown, let us know in the comments below.

This is a showcase of UCLA edge rusher Takkarist McKinley.

Takkarist McKinley / OLB UCLA 6’2 265 lbs

The Good:

– Great size
– Great Speed Move
– Playmaker
– Sets the edge effectively
– Stout against the run
– High motor player

The Bad:

– Struggles with Hand Movement such as slap, rip, swim moves
– Lack of lower body power when bull rushing
– Often stands straight when rushing, lacks drive
– Could improve lower body strength


– 2016: 61 Tackles, 18 TFL, 10.0 Sacks, 3 FF, 1 FR
– Second in the Conference in Sacks/Game with 0.91
– 10th in the Nation with an average of 1.63 TFL/Game
– Eight straight games with a tackle for loss during 2016 season
– Signed with Cal out of high school but did not qualify academically
– Played a season at Contra Costa College before transferring to UCLA

Tape Breakdown:

Beginning on a positive note, McKinley’s speed rush is his greatest pass rush move in his inventory. The fact that it may be his only move will be discussed later but for now, let’s focus on what McKinley’s got working for him.

Here McKinley is against Colorado, where he is matched up against Colorado offensive lineman Joremy Irwin.  On the snap of the ball, McKinley turns the corner so quickly on Irwin that the pocket is blown up almost instantly.

Irwin is no slouch either, as the lineman was voted Colorado’s best offensive lineman for the season and only allowed half a sack all season but still McKinley leaves him looking like junior varsity. McKinley did not get the sack on this play but he is very much responsible for the disruption of the pocket, leading to UCLA’s sack.

Here is another example of McKinley’s speed rush on display against Utah. Watch McKinley turn the edge and leave the lineman tasked with blocking him on the floor. McKinley’s speed move alone makes him an interesting project for teams seeking a pass rusher.

McKinley’s limitations as a pass rusher can be spotted clear as day when his speed is neutralized. It is here where McKinley’s weaknesses begin to rear their head. McKinley lacks a second move that can be used to rush the passer and his ability to use his hands to beat a lineman leaves a ton to be desired.

In the clip below, McKinley is up against Stanford’s gritty offensive line and 300lb Casey Tucker.  Tucker neutralizes McKinley’s speed move and from then on there is almost no effort from McKinley to use his arms to disengage or re-take leverage.

McKinley’s lack of arm power or production could be the linebacker’s biggest flag coming into the NFL.  The other concern is the lack of push, with McKinley standing almost completely upright, it becomes almost impossible to muster any power to beat any lineman, let alone a starting lineman in the NFL.

McKinley’s skills translate best as a 3-4 outside linebacker. As a 3-4 linebacker, setting the edge against the run is one of the most important items on the checklist to being a great outside linebacker. If you cannot set the edge as a 3-4 outside linebacker, you will find yourself unemployed sooner rather than later.

You can checkmark setting the edge on McKinley’s checklist, as the UCLA linebacker has no problem holding his own in the running game. Watch McKinley set the edge against Arizona State in the clip below.

This play is marveling for a couple of reasons. McKinley not only meets the back at the edge but also is able to chase the running back down for negative yardage on the play. This is the motor and run defense strengths mentioned earlier. McKinley’s highlight tape against the run does not end here either.

Setting the edge is important as an outside linebacker but blowing up the play in the backfield is the cherry on top. Watch below as McKinley completely blows up a play in the backfield against Colorado.

McKinley in the clip above, demonstrates the lower body torch and power that scouts crave from him. McKinley’s was matched up against a tight end in the clip, but that is an advantage that McKinley will have to take advantage of every time it occurs.

To wrap it all up, McKinley is very raw; relying on pure speed on most occasions, McKinley will have to improve his hand work and develop a secondary move.  McKinley has all the measurables to succeed at the next level, with only a few coachable traits standing in his path. McKinley will likely find himself as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. A risky pick for some, McKinley is an interesting project for others.

Projection: Early Day Two

Games Watched: At Colorado, vs Utah, at Arizona State, vs Stanford,

Previous 2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Deshaun WatsonHaason ReddickMarshon LattimoreCorey ClementTim Williams
Jourdan Lewis

About the Author

Daniel Valente

Steelers fan from birth, spending majority of my free time looking up statistics. Had the honor of meeting Mike Vanderjagt shortly after his infamous missed field goal in the 2005 Divisional Round. Currently pursuing a Journalism degree. Follow me on Twitter @StatsGuyDaniel

  • Mark DeSevo

    Joe Mathis from Washington is someone I feel we should look at. Depending on how he tests at the combine I feel like we could get him in the 2nd or 3rd round.

  • falconsaftey43

    I really like McKinley because his path around the outside to the QB is short. He really flattens quickly (see above gif against Utah). That’s a great place to start as a pass rusher. And frankly, it’s something no one on the team can do besides James Harrison. Already a solid run defender too. I’d be ok with him in the 1st depending on who is there.

    A lot easier to teach a guy hand usage than try to improve their bend (Tim Williams).

  • The Chin

    Same here

  • Kenneth Wilt

    Early Day 2? Okay, so you get a TE late in round 1 and move up to get him early in Round 2. The FO thinks we will have extra picks this year for comp, which we now can trade. Let’s move them and get 2 basically late 1st early 2nd guys.

  • Boots

    I think Mathis may fall farther because of his injury history and lack of tape

  • The Sun is Pro-Black

    Get him!

  • Spencer Krick

    Nice report!

    How is he in coverage? His play against the run is encouraging and if he’s not a liability in coverage he’ll get plenty of snaps behind Harrison.

  • Mark DeSevo

    He may because of the points you listed. But (a big but) if he tests well at the combine and doctors clear him of his foot injury I have a feeling he will rise up draft boards quickly.

  • Bill Sechrengost

    Thanks Daniel. This guy is certainly going to be in the mix for the Steelers. I’m sure he will test well at the combine. I think I remember hearing about some injury concerns with him. I’m looking forward to seeing more profiles on the edge rushers in this draft.

  • Dwayne Ferguson

    I wonder if I am the only one here who could not care less speculating on draft choices or prospects until the Steelers actually draft the guy- then I will look them up and watch tape.

  • WreckIess

    I agree with your evaluation of him, but the I think that round projection is a little off. He’s got everything you could physically want from an OLB and after the combine I doubt he makes it to us let alone past us.

  • falconsaftey43

    probably haha. I love pre-draft stuff. I think it’s fun.

  • Daniel Valente

    Thanks Spencer
    Rarely saw him drop, so tough to say. Run defense is definitely his strong suit.

  • Daniel Valente

    Could be just you Dwayne, I mean the NFL Draft is built upon speculation !

  • Spencer Krick

    Right on, it’ll be something to keep an eye on at the combine.

  • Daniel Valente

    I don’t disagree with you, a strong combine showing for McKinley could shoot him right up. The combine could also raise the stock of other outside backers too, it will be interesting to keep track of McKinley’s stock.

  • Clutterbox

    I also agree with your evaluation of McKinley. Great speed and size and strong on the run, but needs to work on his hand and moves. Once the defender gets a hold of him, he gets block rather easily. Also some of his stats are bit inflated due to “easy” sacks. I wouldn’t mind he the Steelers select him if available. That being said, I don’t think he as nearly as good as Williams or even Ryan Anderson.

  • steelers_26

    For me its still Derek Barnett, i think he is the only special player in this draft susseptible to fall too us. Or that we could move up to get

  • falconsaftey43

    I love Barnett. Don’t know how far he’ll fall. Combine will likely move him down and others up. Only real concern with him is can he play in space at all. Not sure he could drop in coverage much. His bend is something special though. Nice hand work as well.

  • The Tony

    The lower body strength worries me a bit. But being on an NFL team with their trainers certainly can help

  • falconsaftey43

    I don’t know if he lacks lower body strength. Looks to have very solid build. Not hard to work on anyway. I think it has more to do with playing too high/passive as a pass rusher if he doesn’t win with speed. I saw him bull rush very effectively a couple of times. Seemed like he did a good job with it when it was his initial plan, but struggled to transition if he was hoping to win outside. Leg strength also shown in ability to hold the POA which he does well.

  • PaeperCup

    Sound like most of his flaws are teachable.

  • steelers_26

    Yes its like sending James Harrison in coverage, maybe not the perfect fit but when its well executed its working. We will see what goes on at the combine

  • steelers_26

    Yes the Bend, the effort, the run stoping, physicality, rush moves, strenght, hand usage. Plus hes super young and got an A+ character

  • Spencer Krick

    This. It’s fun to see where these players turn up/how they do.

  • The Truth

    He’s too stiff and really has no bend when rushing. Change of direction looks to be a problem.

  • Sdale

    That’s exactly what I was thinking. If he has the leg strength to set the edge against the run, it’s probably not just a strength issue on the pass rush. Hopefully teachable leverage issue.

  • Sdale

    I know it’s early, but every mock I’ve seen so far has him going way higher. I don’t think we have a shot at this guy.

  • MP34

    In his picture, he kinda looks like a LB (chest/build), on WR’s legs. Maybe it’s just the picture, but I could see where the call for lower body strength comes from.

  • Spencer Krick

    He’s not my favorite guy, but make peace with the fact that the Steelers are going to pick the best Edge available in Round 1, and McKinnley will probably be there.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    Not impressed. Jarvis 2.0. Hassan Reddick more impressive.

  • Douglas Andrews

    Only watched a little of the Standford tape but you can see once he can’t get around the edge he’s stonewalled. The lack of lower body strength sticks out also Alex. Maybe he can be a situational player pass rusher for now until he develops. This may be the type of OLB the Steelers look into.

  • falconsaftey43

    Can we all just agree to stop with the Jarvis Jones comparisons? I’ve seen someone compare each and every pass rusher to him so far. Truth is he’s a terrible comparison for all these guys. OLB you don’t like does not have to automatically get compared to Jarvis Jones.

  • DS

    How about Demarcus Walker fsu

  • Michael Mosgrove

    I don’t compare everyone to jarvis jones. I have watched a LOT of game film in last two weeks. To me they have similar issues. Can’t dip around the edge, trouble with getting speed neutralized and jarvis isn’t super fast to begin with, stand up more than using leverage.

  • thomas hmmmm

    No way does Barnett fall to the Steelers. The guy was a monster for 3 straight years and his production is near tops of any D player coming out in a tough conference.
    I hope he does fall though he would be great to pair with Dupree on one side and him on the other. Two OLB’s bigger than 260 is what I have been dreaming of for the team.

  • falconsaftey43

    Sorry, didnt mean to single you out. I’ve just literally seen some compare each guy to him. I personally dont see a lack of bend with Mckinley. I think that clip against Utah shows good bend. Both first clips he’s able to flatten to the QB at only 5 yards deep. Jarvis couldnt do that with no one blocking him. He’s 7-8 yards deep untouched. Also just way more explosive and faster than Jones.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I pass on him in the 1st. A guy who only has a speed rush can be neutralized if he has no other tools which I do not see.

  • Rusted Out

    We’re all a little scorned by Jarvis. lol

  • Rotten Sircus

    He looks good on the highlight reel but he’s not going to drop to 30 where we pick !

  • Jason Vancil

    Ya never know. Decastro wasn’t supposed to make it to us in the 1st and Tuitt wasn’t supposed to make it out of the top of 2nd round. It is a long process between now and the draft. McKinley could be a late 2nd rounder by then.

  • Jason Vancil

    I think I still like Harris at Mizzou or Lawson at Auburn better than Takk. They seem like more polished rushers at this point. Can they drop and cover? Who knows at this point.

  • Applebite

    If he’s there @ #30, the Steelers should take him. There’s not going to be another shot at him in the 2nd. His skills are too good to ignore, despite the flaws that can be improved upon.

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    He looks a little bit too much like Bud for my liking.

  • steelers_26

    Exactly !

  • David Shoff

    I think the Steelers had better pick an OLB who already has pretty polished pass rush moves. I don’t think the Steelers have ever done a very good job teaching OLBs pass rush moves.

  • SFIC

    I agree Shags. I love his skill set. He has a high ceiling, but…???? Can he be coached up to use his hands, add pass rush moves, develop a bull rush???? A big risk for a 1st round pick.

  • Matt Manzo

    It’s our only chance to get to play GM!

  • i agree, kind of seems like our guys not named James Harrison rely on athletic ability and are lacking in fundamentals sometimes

  • LucasY59

    is there going to be the list of the profiles that have been done? with links (like there has been in previous years)

  • LucasY59

    I was thinking the same thing that looked like a sub 3 second sack (which will be a lot harder in the NFL, but still good to see that he could get there that fast)

  • LucasY59

    If he does that would be even better (for the Steelers) could get a value pick

    Mckinley in the 1st and Mathis in the 3rd or 4th would be great (doubling up on both should help the Steelers pass rush)

  • LucasY59

    This is the guy I currently want as the #1 pick for the Steelers, I think his athletic ability is something that could make him and Dupree the newest/youngest star pass rushing duo, both guys would be some of the best athletes on the field, and once they develop that could make them dominant (there is a chance he doesnt develop) If I have to choose between established pass rushing skills in a inferior athlete, or a Elite athlete that needs to learn a few things as a pass rusher, I am going to pick the Athlete, the potential a guy with great physical skills is what most elite NFL pass rushers start out with, the guys that arent as gifted just cant beat NFL O-linemen (the good ones are great athletes)

    I think the lack of lower body strength is due to his lankiness (which is kinda weird since he isnt all that tall) he has long arms and legs (but is only 6’2″) the length is good for him (think it helps his speed since he has a long stride) and could also help with going against O-linemen (leverage, and keeping the blocker off him) I think he could bulk up a little bit more, but think he is already good against the run so it isnt a huge issue (just another thing he can improve on)

    I think Takk is going to do really well at the combine (and if he does that might be the reason the Steelers dont pick him, because he will already be gone) but there are other 1st rd talents, so the chance of him being available at #30 is realistic (if teams go for guys with more experience or whatever)

    I understand that some of the deficiencies will make some leary of McKinley, but I think the potential is just too good to pass up, especially since it is the position of greatest need for the Steelers, so IF he is available I think the Steelers are making him the pick (and will continue to rush up to turn in their card before their time is up)

  • LucasY59

    Pass Rushers (olb) overview

    I think Takk McKinley (another Athletic Freak to pair with Bud) would be perfect, but there is a good chance he is gone before the Steelers pick (but,I didnt think Bud would make it to #22 when he did, so I dont think it is crazy to think that Takk will still be there *IF they REALLY like him, I would be ok with trading and moving up to get him as long as its only 5 or so spots and doesnt require giving away too much in compensation (the need for an OLB to fix the pass rush is high enough that the investment would be worth it IMO) hopefully that is not necessary, and I have a list of other possible 1st rd edge rushers that could be picked and help push Takk to #30, which I will add to this later)

    my second option is TJ Watt, not sold on Watt all that much and its likely to change after the combine

    if they dont have a OLB that they really like available in the 1st (and if they dont REALLY like the player they shouldnt take one just for need) they will take a BPA (CB and S could have some really good talent still available, as well as a few other positions, so as long as the 1st rd pick is a legit 1st rd talent I am good with whoever they take)

    the 2nd tier of OLBs do not have me that excited for a 1st rd pick, guys like Harris, Watt, Walker, Lawson, Willis and Smoot are just not athletic enough/special talent (and I would hate to end up in a similar situation to what they had with Jarvis) I think some of these type of players would be much better as 2nd rd picks, so If they dont get a OLB in the 1st those would be my candidates as well as Mathis and Rivers (who I like better, but might be available later…) Joe Mathis is my favorite OLB in this draft behind McKinley (could be very similar to Takk (both in style of play as well as size/ and maybe even speed?) he missed the 2nd half of the season with a injury so he could even last into rd 3 or 4??? but its still early so all projections could change a lot) Derek Rivers is another guy that could sneak into the 2nd tier of OLBs as well, (I like Rivers as well and consider him the #3 OLB I would want for the Steelers)

    If they get a OLB in the first I think they open up the 2nd pick to everything but a OLB (but will try and double up later if they can) unless James returns for another season they will need to draft a 2nd OLB (even if he returns I would probably pick two and let them
    learn from Harrison)

    other guys (3rd rd or later that could be candidates for them to double up on) Devontae Fields,
    Ejuan Price, Carroll Phillips, Daeshon Hall, Deatrich Wise, Tarell Basham, Tyus Bowser, Lewis Neal, Bryan Cox, Garrett Sickels, Hunter Dimick (this draft has some pretty decent talent depth at OLB)

    my favorite later rd guy is Ejuan Price (#4 on my personal list) seems like Deebo Jr to me, will get knocked for not being tall enough (barely 6 foot) but can bend and get under the tall OTs, could be available into the 6th rd? even if Harrison returns they should pick him and try and stash on the PS or get rid of Moats and his highest paid OLB contract that will most likely be sitting on the bench)

  • LucasY59

    edge rusher ranking
    (with some possible landing spots as well) lots of 4-3 type edge rushers early, not as many 3-4 *I would have Takk ranked at #4 but hope other teams reach for guys I have ranked lower so that Takk slides to Steelers)

    1. Myles Garrett (Cleveland)
    2. Johnathan Allen (Bears)
    3. Derek Barnett (Saints)
    4. Solomon Thomas (Cinci? they could go with WR instead?)
    5. Tim Williams (Ravens, would rather he goes to Baltimore over most of the others listed here)
    6. Taco Charlton (Panthers)
    7. Charles Harris (Cowboys)
    8. TJ Watt (right now the #2 Steelers option IMO, dont love it but like him better than the other options, could be another that goes early to push Takk as well, Green Bay?)
    9. DeMarcus Walker (Falcons)
    10. Carl Lawson (dont want the Steelers to reach for a injured/unathletic pass rusher, but if another team does that is fine)

    one more that is a not as likely to be taken earlier but still in consideration: Ryan Anderson (another Bama guy that gets overhyped because of the talent around him that he played with in college, I actually like him more than Williams. but still dont want him in the 1st)

    *****there is a possibility that guys like Harris, Walker, Watt and Lawson do well at the combine and prove me wrong on their athleticism, but I expect if anyone blows up the combine its a guy like McKinley

    Malik Mcdowell (is actually much more of a DL, but could also be considered an edge guy (like Allen and Thomas are) so another guy that could help push Takk down to the Steelers)

    if you take these 10 or so players and add 19 more from other positions I could be likely that the Steelers will be able to pick McKinley

    Joe Mathis (darkhorse to jump into the top 10 with a good combine, but right now his ceiling looks to be 2nd rd and floor is 4th maybe 5th, later is fine with me if they double up and take him as well)

    *Another guy that could jump into the 1st rd is Haasan Reddick (he played DE/OLB at Temple, but I see him more as a ILB similar to Shazier, should have a great combine and will get 1st rd Hype, would provide some pass rushing as well even though I dont see him lining up as a true OLB much if he is picked by the Steelers) but if he runs sub 4.5 and gains a lot of draft value he could be one of the 29 players that is picked before the Steelers are on the clock

  • HiVul

    I would lean towards BPA over Mckinley in the first round because I’m afraid he might be too much of a project. I’d love for us to find our edge rusher in the first, but we can’t afford to miss with that pick. We have OLBs that are pretty good at setting the edge as it is. If he’s not the real deal as a pass rusher then he won’t add much to the team. Developing rush moves and learning to use leverage aren’t minor tasks.

  • Scunge

    I think Colbert was talking about being in good shape with compensation picks for 2018, not this year. I think he expects to not sign Jarvis Jones, Markus Wheaton, Shmarko Thomas and Landry Jones and possibly Timmons. So, those players sign elsewhere and do well and we get don’t go crazy signing any free agents and that ends up being where the compensations picks come from in 2018.

  • Rick Tilves

    Please Breakdown James Connor & Nate Peterman. THANKS

  • Wil Masisak

    You forgot to mention the velcro on McKinley that attaches him to quality OTs. Not a fan as a 1st round pick.

  • Pghomer

    Thx for summing up!!! I’m almost identical to your thoughts. TM is far and away my fav ‘realistic’ option at #30. What do you think of H Riddick as ILB? I’M liking him in the second. Can Lawson bend? He’s the other guy I think could develop to be special….just not sure about his bend…

  • Pghomer

    Funny… see above😎. We are really on the same pg….not sure that’s so good for you. lol

  • Spencer Krick

    I do see that a little bit. To be fair, his first step is so fast, there hasn’t been much need for bend. Can’t get away with just speed rushes at the next level, and that’s what concerns me.

  • LucasY59

    Lack of athleticism is the main concern with Lawson (and Harris) for me, I think both are good college pass rushers, but I am not sure if they will be able to have a lot of success in the NFL, waiting to see how they do at the combine (same with Watt, have to have some good measurables to be worth a 1st) which is where guys like Takk and Haasan will blow up, I like Reddick as a 2nd option if McKinley is already gone (and maybe Sidney Jones as the 3rd option, with Jabril Peppers as the surprise guy)

  • Pghomer

    Ha…I’ve been thinking Peppers as “nicklebacker” too…
    Can’t be sure how I feel about CB at the moment…at times I think we’ll totally bypass…other times BPA has me thinking 1st round….
    Fun time of year.

  • LucasY59

    lots of CB talent and the team could always use more talented cover guys (despite OLB being the #1 need, I think pass coverage is still the weakest part of the D)

  • Daniel Valente

    working on DeMarcus Walker right now.

  • DS


  • SoCal Steeler

    Does it bother anyone else that all of our young pass rushers don’t seem to have any moves besides a speed rush. C’mon J.Peazy how hard can it be to teach these guys some counters? I was really hoping that they would bring in Kevin Greene as a 2nd OLB coach but I think the Jets just hired him.

  • Rick Tilves

    McKinley is Not a #1 Pick in my mind & eyes. He stands up & has no Upper or Lower body strength. He is too easy to block vs Run & has no techniques of a Good Pass rusher. He needs a lot of Work in strength & technique departments, thus not worthy of a #1.

  • Alan Tman

    TJ Watt, Derek Rivers, Jordan Willis, Devonte Fields, Josh Carraway. Haasan Reddick and Tyus Bowser I think are ILB, I like Reddick better than all the OLB’S.

  • Terrible Towlie

    yep….just you