2017 NFL Draft Scouting Report
Prospect: Takkarist McKinley
Ht: 6'4" Wt: 265
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The 2017 NFL Draft will have an abundant and diverse group of pass rushers early on. There are players with loads of potential like Myles Garret, Charles Harris, and Taco Charlton, as well as prospects with outstanding collegiate production like Derek Barnett and DeMarcus Walker. There are talented pass rushers with question marks like Carl Lawson (injuries) and Devonte Fields (off-the-field), and those who may solely fit as linebackers like Tim Williams and Dawuane Smoot. McKinley belongs in the same conversation as all of these players, but he is a special case. While most of those prospects are going to be ready to make a significant impact right away, McKinley will take some time and patience. He was used very sparingly his sophomore year, and even as a junior and senior, there were times where he was only a situational pass rusher or a rotation player. Usually, players like that are not so highly regarded, but McKinley's raw athleticism and size make him a tantalizing prospect.
McKinley has three things working in his favor. For starters, he has good size (6'2", 260) and very long arms. I honestly think he will be a better fit as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme but with so much grooming to do with his game, he could just as easily end up with his hand on the ground. The second aspect he has working for him is his exceptional quickness off the snap. He needs to be a bit more consistent with his jump, but when he comes out of his stance, he explodes up the field. The third is his ability to turn the corner. He has the flexibility and balance to get low around the corner, and the speed to accelerate while doing it. As a speed rusher, he has everything he needs to get to the quarterback.
From there, he is going to be a work in progress. He needs to get better with his hand placement. His long arms are a gift, and he needs to make the most of them. He doesn't do a good enough job of keeping opposing players' hands off of him. Not just as a pass rusher but in his limited time playing the run, he gets blocked too easily because of this. Even when engaged, he has to do a more disciplined job of using active and heavy hands. This will see him be a more productive football player in general. He also has to develop his pass rushing techniques. With his ability to change direction and long arms, he has all the potential to turn into a complete pass rusher. Right now, he just knows how to run past people and that won't be good enough at the next level. He has to learn to swim and rip, as well as when to get inside a lineman and drive them back. He also has to learn to how to use his feet to set up these moves.
Also, if he truly plays at 260 pounds, then there must be a lot of bad weight on him because he needs to get a lot stronger. He doesn't hold up well at the point of attack, and I haven't seen him win with a bull rush in the five games I watched of him. Sometimes he plays too high but even when getting low he doesn't hold his ground. Besides that, the experience factor is an issue as well. He is credited with 24 starts at UCLA, but his snap-count was a different story. I fast-forwarded through half the Stanford game during senior year because he wasn't on the field. Football awareness is something that comes with time, and that is an area he is lacking. Instincts at the position should grow with time, and I think another year of eligibility at UCLA may have produced a much more polished player. Still, the areas he can improve (footwork, hand placement, development of pass rush techniques, play recognition, strength) are all extremely coachable. What he has (size, speed, overall athleticism) can't be coached. That makes for a high ceiling and an intriguing project for the right defensive coaches.
He truly enjoys playing the game and that kind of passion usually comes with a player willing to do anything it takes to get better. He is a good teammate and his story growing up is inspiring. Raised by his grandmother, aunt, and cousin in a bad part of California, he made sacrifices for his family before he was an adult. He didn't qualify for a Division-1 scholarship but worked his tail off at a junior college to earn a scholarship at UCLA, and that kind of work ethic will be essential to his growth moving forward. Projects like this are usually more suitable for day-two consideration, but I see a guy that could start making sense at the end of day one with his rare qualities. Compares to (Current NFL Player): Erik Walden (Indianapolis Colts)
- Adequate size and long arms
- Explosive first step
- Terrific overall athleticism and speed
- Flexibility and balance to turn the corner
- High work ethic and character
- Needs to get stronger
- Still very unpolished/Needs to get the most out of his gifts
- Experience is somewhat limited
- One-trick pony as a pass rusher
1)   Takkarist McKinley home again for likely UCLA finale   - Los Angeles Daily News |
2)   UCLA's Takkarist McKinley, Mique Juarez exchange barbs on Twitter   - Los Angeles Daily News |
3)   Home news
UCLA sack specialist Takkarist McKinley fulfills vow to his dying grandmother - and then some
- SportsDay.com |
4)   Takkarist McKinley Twitter|
5)   Takkarist McKinley Instagram|