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2017 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Takkarist McKinley, EDGE, UCLA

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It’s very possible that an edge rusher will be the top player on the board when the Giants pick.

NCAA Football: UCLA at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

If there was a knock on the New York Giants’ defensive front, it was that while incredibly stout and adept at pressuring quarterbacks, they were inconsistent at best at converting pressure into production.

Part of that was certainly all the new pieces in the front seven learning how to play within Steve Spagnuolo’s scheme and how to play together. The other part of it is a lack of dynamism. Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon are well-rounded defensive ends who are a handful for pretty much any offensive lineman. However neither of them possesses the kind of absolute explosiveness that players like Osi Umenyiora or Von Miller have, which can turn a moment’s hesitation or a slight mistake into a sack.

The 2017 NFL Draft’s stock of pass rushers hardly needs to be expounded upon by now. And that depth of talent means that if the Giants want to add a speed rusher to their defense, there is a very good chance that one will be available, and possibly even the outright best player on their board, when they pick.

UCLA’s Takkarist McKinley consistently falls in the range of the Giants’ first round pick, and his combination of athleticism and high-revving motor could catch the team’s attention.

Measurables

Pros

  • True “EDGE” player. Can play effectively as either a stand-up rusher or a defensive end.
  • Long arms offset slightly below-average height for the position.
  • Strong enough to play inside on occasion.
  • Non-stop motor. Never gives up on a play and gives full effort all game long.
  • Disciplined run defender. Respects his assignments and doesn’t over-pursue on play-action or read-option plays.
  • Good first step and closing burst as a pass rusher.

Cons

  • Can struggle to disengage from blockers if his first move fails.
  • Could use more work on counter moves.
  • Lacks fluidity in his lower body.
  • Needs to continue to build functional or lower-body strength

Does He Fit With The Giants?

McKinley would be able to find a fit in either a 3-4 or 4-3 defense, but despite his build, he might be best in a 4-3 defense.

For the Giants he would likely begin his career as a pass rush specialist at defensive end. As a defensive end McKinley would rarely be asked to drop into coverage, as he would as a SAM linebacker — his lower-body tightness makes dropping into coverage something of an awkward affair for him. He is generally a disciplined defender, which would make it more difficult for teams to exploit a young player with runs or play-action. McKinley’s motor would certainly appeal to Steve Spagnuolo who always wants his defense to play faster and more physically.

McKinley is raw in many respects, but in the Giants’ defense he would have the time to grow without the pressure of being a starter thrust upon him.

Prospect Video

Big Board Rankings

Big Blue View - 24th overall

CBS Sports - 34th overall

Draft Countdown - 24th overall

Draft Tek - 30th overall

Final Thoughts

It’s hard not to like a player like Takk McKinley. Sure, he’s raw and needs to continue to grow, both physically and as a football player. But I just have a soft spot for players who get after the game 100mph and play like their hair’s on fire -- But don’t play out of control either.

Perhaps the biggest knock on McKinley is the incredible depth of his position group this year. In any other year he would likely be one of the more talked about prospects (not that he isn’t talked about already). But this year’s crop of pass rushers is so crowded that it’s difficult for any not named Myles Garrett to carve out a sizeable share of the conversation.