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'Relentless' Takkarist McKinley eager to help Falcons forget Super Bowl


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'Relentless' Takkarist McKinley eager to help Falcons forget Super Bowl

Vaughn McClure

FLOWERY BRACH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons first-round draft pick Takkarist McKinley doesn't bite his tongue, so the defensive end from UCLA was brutally honest when asked what he knew about his new defense.

"I do know they had the Patriots up, 28-3, and they kind of just ran out of gas," McKinley said, referring to the Falcons' collapse in a 34-28 Super Bowl LI loss to New England.

Maybe that wasn't exactly one of the first things Falcons fans wanted to hear McKinley utter, but at least he's fully aware of the biggest storyline going into the 2017 season: How the Falcons will respond from their Super Bowl hangover.

A player as talented as McKinley should help the cause, especially when teamed with reigning NFL sacks leader Vic Beasley Jr.

"For a D-lineman, it's hard to rush every single play," McKinley said. "So if I can just go out there (on) third downs, second down, or whatever just to give them guys a break and continue to pass rush, who knows how far we'll go."

When the 6-foot-2-inch, 250-pound McKinley said "them guys," he was referring to Beasley and Dwight Freeney. The veteran Freeney isn't expected back, which puts that much more emphasis on McKinley's role coming in as a rookie.

First and foremost, the Falcons have to make sure McKinley is healthy after surgery in March to repair a significant right shoulder injury originally expected to sideline McKinley, possibly until September. General manager Thomas Dimitroff said he was comfortable with the medical reports associated with McKinley's shoulder. And coach Dan Quinn expressed optimism about the timetable for McKinley's recovery.

"Training camp, that's my hope," Quinn said. "If not, it will be soon after that."

Quinn is confident it won't linger into the season. And he's confident McKinley will have an impact as another edge rusher on a line that now features Beasley, nose tackle Grady Jarrett, defensive tackle Dontari Poe, Adrian Clayborn, Derrick Shelby, Ra'Shede Hageman, and newcomer Jack Crawford.

"This guy is a dog competitor," Quinn said of McKinley.

Quinn expanded on what exactly he sees in McKinley's pass-rush skills.

"The first (trait) was his initial get-off where he can really beat a guy to the punch," Quinn said. "It was that kind of speed that he can get out of his stance and go. We saw him play, at UCLA, linebacker, where he was in a two-point stance, and some where he was down and really going. We saw him play on both sides, that kind of flexibility. I'm anxious to work with him. We feel like we can help develop and train him and get him even stronger. ... But he does have the initial traits that we're looking for."

McKinley was asked to describe his playing style. Again, he didn't bite his tongue.

"I'm relentless," he said. "I've got heart. I've got the best motor in this class. A lot of guys don't run to the ball. They just jog to the ball. Or a lot of guys don't jog to the ball. For me, if a quarterback is scrambling, I want to be right there in his face scrambling with him to force a bad throw. ... I'm somebody that's going to go hard no matter what."

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9 minutes ago, theProf said:

'Relentless' Takkarist McKinley eager to help Falcons forget Super Bowl

Vaughn McClure

FLOWERY BRACH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons first-round draft pick Takkarist McKinley doesn't bite his tongue, so the defensive end from UCLA was brutally honest when asked what he knew about his new defense.

"I do know they had the Patriots up, 28-3, and they kind of just ran out of gas," McKinley said, referring to the Falcons' collapse in a 34-28 Super Bowl LI loss to New England.

Maybe that wasn't exactly one of the first things Falcons fans wanted to hear McKinley utter, but at least he's fully aware of the biggest storyline going into the 2017 season: How the Falcons will respond from their Super Bowl hangover.

A player as talented as McKinley should help the cause, especially when teamed with reigning NFL sacks leader Vic Beasley Jr.

"For a D-lineman, it's hard to rush every single play," McKinley said. "So if I can just go out there (on) third downs, second down, or whatever just to give them guys a break and continue to pass rush, who knows how far we'll go."

When the 6-foot-2-inch, 250-pound McKinley said "them guys," he was referring to Beasley and Dwight Freeney. The veteran Freeney isn't expected back, which puts that much more emphasis on McKinley's role coming in as a rookie.

First and foremost, the Falcons have to make sure McKinley is healthy after surgery in March to repair a significant right shoulder injury originally expected to sideline McKinley, possibly until September. General manager Thomas Dimitroff said he was comfortable with the medical reports associated with McKinley's shoulder. And coach Dan Quinn expressed optimism about the timetable for McKinley's recovery.

"Training camp, that's my hope," Quinn said. "If not, it will be soon after that."

Quinn is confident it won't linger into the season. And he's confident McKinley will have an impact as another edge rusher on a line that now features Beasley, nose tackle Grady Jarrett, defensive tackle Dontari Poe, Adrian Clayborn, Derrick Shelby, Ra'Shede Hageman, and newcomer Jack Crawford.

"This guy is a dog competitor," Quinn said of McKinley.

Quinn expanded on what exactly he sees in McKinley's pass-rush skills.

"The first (trait) was his initial get-off where he can really beat a guy to the punch," Quinn said. "It was that kind of speed that he can get out of his stance and go. We saw him play, at UCLA, linebacker, where he was in a two-point stance, and some where he was down and really going. We saw him play on both sides, that kind of flexibility. I'm anxious to work with him. We feel like we can help develop and train him and get him even stronger. ... But he does have the initial traits that we're looking for."

McKinley was asked to describe his playing style. Again, he didn't bite his tongue.

"I'm relentless," he said. "I've got heart. I've got the best motor in this class. A lot of guys don't run to the ball. They just jog to the ball. Or a lot of guys don't jog to the ball. For me, if a quarterback is scrambling, I want to be right there in his face scrambling with him to force a bad throw. ... I'm somebody that's going to go hard no matter what."

I am f'n SOLD.

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Takkarist McKinley, OLB

Player Overview

NFL teams are always in search of explosive edge rushers and they simply do not come much more athletic than McKinley, a former high school track standout who evolved into the most feared pass rusher in the Pac-12 in 2016.

 

McKinley flashed a year earlier, tying for third on the team with 7.5 tackles for loss and four sacks among his 35 tackles but often drew favorable opportunities with UCLA's talented defensive tackles Kenny Clark and Eddie Vanderdoes (among others) drawing the bulk of opponents' attention. He became the top priority as a senior, however, registering career-highs in tackles (61), tackles for loss (18), sacks (10) and forced fumbles (three) over the regular season, dominating opponents with an explosive initial burst, bend off the corner and a relentless motor that projects very well to an increasingly pass-happy NFL.

 

Academics forced McKinley to take the junior college route out of high school and he earned first team all-conference honors with 33 tackles, including 18 for loss and 10 sacks in his only year at Contra Costa College. He did not officially join the UCLA program until the fourth game of the 2014 season, recording six tackles, including 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks in limited duty over 10 games. With only one standout season and a lack of ideal height, McKinley comes with red flags. His breakout 2016 campaign, however, gives "Takk" momentum that if built upon at the Senior Bowl and in post-season workouts, could vault McKinley into the first round conversation.

 

Strengths Weaknesses

STRENGTHS: Twitched-up athlete with the burst off the ball to blow past offensive tackles as a speed rusher, as well as the disproportionately long arms to keep blockers from grabbing hold of him. Terrific balance and bend to dip under the reach of blockers and scrape the corner. Fluid change of direction, allowing him to project nicely as an edge rusher, spy on the quarterback or when dropping into coverage. Anticipates cut blocks and pulling guards, showing excellent body control to spin free from contact while keeping track of the ball. Good vision and motor for pursuit, often running 15+ yards downfield to get in on tackles even after initially rushing upfield. Active hands to slip blocks even when his initial speed rush is contained, incorporating swim and rip moves frequently. Shows good hand-eye coordination to slap away the ball from unsuspecting quarterbacks while still being blocked, as well as the explosiveness and timing to knock down passes at the line of scrimmage. May just be scratching the surface of his athletic potential. Recorded a 10.58 second 100 meters in his first year of running track during high school.

 

WEAKNESSES: Stronger than he looks but lacks the bulk and power to hold up as a full-time defensive end in the NFL. Lacks the frame to add much weight, possessing a tapered frame, including narrow hips and relatively thin legs. Limited leg drive as a bull rusher and can get tied up by tight ends an even fullbacks who hit him square. Allows his pad level to rise as he tires and gets too far over his skis, at times, making him off-balance and too easily knocked off his feet. Could use to gain greater upper body strength as too often runners are able to break through his arm tackles.

 

IN OUR VIEW: McKinley possesses the burst, bend, long arms, motor and experience rushing out of two-point (standing) and three-point (hand in the dirt) stances to earn a high draft pick and provide an immediate impact as an edge rusher. He is more agile than powerful, however, and could prove a liability against the run when opponents are able to latch onto him.

 

COMPARES TO: Whitney Mercilus, Houston Texans: After a couple of relatively ho-hum seasons at Illinois, Mercilus rode a splashy junior campaign (22.5 tackles for loss, 16 sacks and nine forced fumbles) into the No. 26 overall pick in the 2012 draft. McKinley has enjoyed a similar sharp ascent up draft boards, projecting as an impact edge rusher due to his initial burst, bend and tenacity.

 

http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/players/2160964/takkarist-mckinley

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5 minutes ago, BoomGoesTheDynamite said:

Super excited about Takk. 

Got a question though. Is Jack Crawford decent?

Jack Crawford is very decent. He can two gap or get after the passer fairly good for a big guy. Very athletic for his size. I was a bit surprised that the Cowboys let him get away after developing him.

He's not a 8-10 sack guy. But he sets the edge, gets good pressure and you could see 4-6 sacks from him

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1 minute ago, MSalmon said:

Jack Crawford is very decent. He can two gap or get after the passer fairly good for a big guy. Very athletic for his size. I was a bit surprised that the Cowboys let him get away after developing him.

He's not a 8-10 sack guy. But he sets the edge, gets good pressure and you could see 4-6 sacks from him

That's a relief. I was looking for some highlights reels on him, but didn't see much info. Cowboys fans keep saying he sucks and I kinda had flashbacks of Viking fans saying the same about Edwards so I was a little worried. 

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2 minutes ago, BoomGoesTheDynamite said:

That's a relief. I was looking for some highlights reels on him, but didn't see much info. Cowboys fans keep saying he sucks and I kinda had flashbacks of Viking fans saying the same about Edwards so I was a little worried. 

I found a nice breakdown on him by googling.msome cowboy fan site had game tape of him.

i think he's had 3.5, 4 and 2 sacks each of the last three years. Good rotatational guy. Who knows maybe here he's even better!

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