There are hundreds of stories being told during the planning and anticipation of the 2017 NFL Draft. Today we will be looking at a scouting report for senior edge rusher Takkarist McKinley, UCLA Bruins.
This former high school track star (his Twitter account stated he was aiming for a 4.40 forty yard dash) turned defender was overshadowed in his first two years at UCLA playing more three tech than his natural five tech position. He is so athletic that he returned a punt 32 yards his junior season; what other edge rusher in this class could do that? I’m a high school football coach and educator by trade, so I am going to break down what I saw in the five games I reviewed of the senior defender: 2016 contests versus Arizona State, Utah, Colorado, and Stanford along with a 2015 game against their arch rivals USC. All of these videos are available via draftbreakdown.com. Here are my thoughts:
Cons: The defender has a thin lower body that doesn’t generate enough power. This caused him to get washed out when he faced a lot of double teams. His pass rushing relies mostly on power and leverage; at the next level most offensive linemen will have more power and leverage over him, so the former Bruin will need to refine his technique. This was very clear when he played some three tech and got neutralized in 2015. Cut blocking seemed to be effective almost half of the time I saw it used on him; the defender must use his quick hands and balance better to stay upright. His hand fighting is not refined enough to get around blockers, so McKinley is sometimes forced to take longer angles to get to the quarterback. His hips aren’t as fluid as I would like as it took him an extra step or two to change directions.
Pros: McKinley is a very versatile play maker lining up on the outside in either two, three, or four point stances and occasionally at the middle linebacker spot. The former Bruin gets off the line of scrimmage quickly, thrusting his long arms up to keep blockers from reaching his body. He uses underdeveloped spins, dip and rips along with a good bend to move up and down the line. This defender usually does a good job anchoring at the point of attack and flowing down to reach the ball carrier covering ground quickly. When he can’t get to the passer, McKinley gets his arms up and swats down a few passes. His best work is as a stunting pass rusher coming from anywhere and everywhere. It doesn’t matter from which side of the formation he attacks. The edge artist has cat-like balance and rarely gives up on a play, chasing the ball carrier 25 yards down the field. He occasionally dropped back into pass coverage and seemed like he could do that more if asked. I am reminded of former Steeler Lamarr Woodley when I watch him play with his pass rushing style and motor.
Overall impressions: Chances are this rookie won’t be a top five selection at either OLB or DE, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be effective at the next level. His size makes him either a 3-4 outside backer or a 4-3 defensive end. McKinley might start the year off as a situational pass rusher with limited snaps. In sack heavy leagues, I would still target him in the middle rounds.
Thanks for reading. I will continue to discuss my scouting reports with you throughout the next several months, so keep checking the site for more content. Please check out my other content as well. You can also follow me on Twitter @AndrewMiley.