Position: Defensive End
Weight: 265 pounds
School: UCLA Bruins
Takkarist McKinley 2017 NFL Draft Profile
Takkarist McKinley is the epitome of the player who could have left after his junior season and been a third or probably even fourth round pick based on potential. He came back for his senior season, however, and has improved his draft status by at least 30-40 draft spots, and thus earned himself a lot more money in the process.
McKinley had a decent enough junior campaign, starting all 12 games for UCLA and recording four-and-a-half sacks and seven tackles for loss. With defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes out for all but one game with a knee injury McKinley played a vital role for the Bruins along with fellow lineman Kenny Clark, (now with the Green Bay Packers). The raw ability was evident for McKinley, if not the refined skill.
McKinley came back for his senior year, and, even with the return of a healthy Vanderdoes, became the key component for the UCLA defensive line. He again started all 12 games, recording 61 tackles, 10 sacks, 18 tackles for less and six pass breakups. He was now an elite level pass rusher and was named first team All Pac-12. In the process, he went from third or fourth round pick to someone who can hear his name called at the end of round 1 or early in round 2 at the latest.
- Freakish athlete.
- Relentless worker. Plays to the whistle and does not take plays off.
- Explosive initial burst at the snap of the ball.
- Can play out of the two-point or three-point stance.
- Long arms.
- Forceful off the edge.
- Needs to bulk up for the NFL, but does not have much more room to grow in his frame
- His pad levels tend to get high when he gets fatigued
- Needs work on cultivating his hand skills
- Because of his size may need to learn OLB position for NFL or be a hybrid position player
NFL Comparison: Tamba Hali, mostly based on size/body frame
Teams with a Need at Position: Cleveland, Carolina, Washington, Dallas, Green Bay, New York Jets, Cincinnati
Projection: Late first round
The dramatic improvement in McKinley from his junior year to his senior season makes the draft projection on him all the more unpredictable. If you accept that Myles Garrett is the first defensive end taken in the draft, and probably number one overall, that takes Cleveland off the board for McKinley. From there, it is a crap shoot. Part of the randomness of the projection has to do with whether teams see him as a NFL caliber defensive end or whether, based on his size, he is more likely to be an outside linebacker, perhaps in a 3-4 defense.
An example of the how his projections are all over the place; cowboyswire.usatoday.com has him as the second best pass rusher still available in the draft once Garrett is gone and says Dallas could be taking him with the 28th pick. Walterfootball.com has McKinley as only the 10th best defensive end in the draft. Chris Burke from Sports Illustrated has him going 29th in the draft to the Green Bay Packers where he would be joining former UCLA defensive line teammates Datone Jones and Kenny Clark.
Whether it is as a defensive end or an outside linebacker, McKinley’s return for his senior season and the ensuing results have vaulted him from potential project to potential late first round.