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