2017 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Takkarist McKinley

  • Takkarist McKinley, 6-2/250

  • Defensive End/Outside Linebacker

  • UCLA

  • Takkarist McKinley Scouting Report
    By Charlie Campbell

  • Lightning-fast edge rusher
  • Explosive edge defender
  • Excellent hand technique to fight off blocks
  • Uses hands and feet at same time
  • Hard-charging pass-rusher
  • Can beat tackles with speed around the corner
  • Pure speed demon to run by tackles
  • Excellent get-off and first-step quickness
  • Instincts to go for fumbles
  • Quick to cut to the inside
  • Plays low
  • Closes quickly on the quarterback
  • Gives a second effort to get sacks
  • High-energy defender

  • Weaknesses:
  • Undersized
  • No pass-rushing moves
  • Very stiff rusher
  • Struggles with long offensive tackles
  • Has shoulder issues
  • Not perfect off the field
  • Moody; slow to trust
  • Weak run defender
  • Can get destroyed in the ground game
  • Can he add strength? Frame could be maxed out
  • One-year wonder

  • Summary: Over the past few seasons, Jim Mora’s UCLA Bruins have produced a number of quality front seven prospects for the NFL including Myles Jack, Anthony Barr, Owa Odighizuwa, Erik Kendricks, Kenny Clark, Datone Jones and Cassius Marsh. McKinley will keep that tradition alive as he is likely to be an early round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft.

    As a junior, McKinley earned a starting job and totaled 35 tackles with 4.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and four passes broken up. He took his game to another level as a senior with 61 tackles with 18 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks, three forced fumbles and six passes batted on the year. That big season has led to many projecting McKinley to be a first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

    For the NFL, McKinley is a high-motor run-chase defender who is fast and explosive. He enters the next level as a one-trick pony speed rusher, though. McKinley is very fast off the edge with an explosive first-step and excellent closing speed. He is a dynamic speed rusher and dangerous quarterback-hunter coming from the backside. However, McKinley lacks pass-rushing moves. He is purely a speed rusher and needs to learn more moves for the NFL. Long offensive tackles also give McKinley problems in terms of getting around them. McKinley has a good motor though and picks up some sacks via second effort.

    In the ground game, McKinkley can get destroyed on some plays. He can get pushed out of his gap and ridden around the field. McKinkley is at his best in pursuit, using his explosive speed to chase down backs. McKinley is better at trying to fire into the backfield to disrupt runs and then hold his ground at the point of attack. Maintaing gap integrity is going to be a big challenge for McKinley against NFL offensive linemen.

    McKinley stands out to me as having bust potential as many are projecting him as a high pick. I, on the other hand, see a lot of flaws with McKinley. For starters, he is undersized as an edge defender at 6-foot-2, 250 pounds. He has no pass-rushing moves either; everything is based off his speed rush and running around blockers. While McKinley is fast, he is extremely tight and stiff as a rusher. He can get destroyed as a run defender, so that could limit his playing time at least early in his career. Offensive tackles with length give him problems and he will see bigger, longer offensive tackles in the NFL. Sources have also said that McKinley has a shoulder issue while not being a slam dunk on the character side. He can be moody and slow to trust, which impacts relationships with coaches and teammates. Thus, I think there are a lot of potential issues that could lead to McKinley being a bust.

    For the NFL, McKinley would fit best as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Scouting sources say the problem with that is McKinley is not a dropper. In a 4-3 defense, he would have to start out as a situational pass-rusher as he will struggle in the ground game. He is a tweener defensive end/Sam (strongside) linebacker for such a scheme.

    Some team sources have McKinley graded in the mid-rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft, but the team that likes him enough to draft him could do so in the first or second round as the hype suggests that some team will reach on McKinley because of his speed-rush potential.

    Player Comparison: Jarvis Jones. I really liked Jones coming out of Georgia, but I was wrong about him as he was a bust for the Steelers. Jones (6-3, 248) and McKinley are both undersized edge defenders. McKinley is faster than Jones, but Jones was tougher against the run. In the NFL, I could see McKinley being a defender similar to Jones.

    NFL Matches: Detroit, Miami, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, New York Jets, Cincinnati, New Orleans, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Washington and Tampa Bay

    There are a lot of potential fits for McKinley in the early rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft. There are reports that the Dallas Cowboys are very high on McKinley. It makes sense as the Cowboys are in search of edge-rushing talent. McKinley’s speed and stature are similar to other edge rushers they drafted recently in Demarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory.

    Among the playoff teams, McKinley could have a few landing spots. The Lions could use defensive line help, and McKinley could help improve their edge rush across from Ziggy Ansah. Miami could use a young edge rusher since they have an aging Cameron Wake and cut Mario Williams. Atlanta needs an edge rusher to go on the other side from Vic Beasley.

    San Francisco needs an edge rusher for its defense. McKinley could maybe be the 49ers’ Leo rush linebacker. The Jets could use an edge rusher. Cincinnati could be a fit for McKinley, too. The Bengals need a rusher opposite Carlos Dunlap as Michael Johnson is a limited player.

    The Saints have to upgrade their defense and improve their pass defense. They need an edge rusher across from Cam Jordan. McKinley could be in consideration for New Orleans’ multiple first-round selections and its second-round pick.

    Indianapolis needs help all over its defense, and McKinley would upgrade the team’s speed rush immediately. John Simon and Jabaal Sheard are more complementary pass-rushers.

    The Ravens need more pass rush after cutting Elvis Dumervil. McKinley could make sense for Baltimore.

    The Redskins want to get younger and more athletic up front. McKinley would be able to play rush linebacker across from Ryan Kerrigan. Tampa Bay wants more edge-rush talent, too, and McKinley could interest the Buccaneers as a player to pair with Noah Spence.


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