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Should the Giants claim EDGE Takk McKinley?

Former first-round pick waived by Atlanta Falcons

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

One of the New York Giants enduring issues this year has been their lack of a pass rush, particularly off the edge. The Giants have done well enough to scheme a pass rush, but they have the worst pass rush win rate in the NFL per ESPN.

So when the Atlanta Falcons waived former first-round pick Takkarist McKinley it caused ears to perk up.

It’s not often that a 25-year-old first round pick becomes available in the middle of a season. And considering the Giants’ lack of a dependable pass rusher off the edge, the question needs to be asked: “Should the Giants’ make a waiver claim on Takk McKinley?”

Well, to start let’s go with the pros of bringing McKinley in for a look. He is a young player who’s passion was evident on the stage draft night when he dropped an F-bomb when talking about his late grandmother during his interview with Deion Sanders. McKinley showed promise early on in his career, racking up 6.0 and 7.0 sacks in his first two seasons. As a prospect he is a long-armed, explosive, powerful rusher who tested in the 85th percentile for broad jump and 94th percentile in the 40-yard dash. He has played in Atlanta’s 4-2-5 defense for the first four years of his career, but considering his game, a move to a more multiple defense and would use him (at least some of the time) as a stand-up rusher could be a positive change.

But what about the flip side of the coin?

Well, the most obvious issue is injuries. McKinley has dealt with multiple groin injuries since 2018, including a strain and later setback this year. He was ruled out due to that injury this past week and was considered questionable for Week 11 following the Falcon’s Week 10 bye. Repeated injuries have, reportedly, limited McKinley’s ability to produce for the Falcons’ defense — though none of them seem to be long-term issues.

The other issue is that same passion he displayed on the draft stage. There has been speculation that McKinley has been trying to get out of Atlanta since 2019 and the decision to release him was spurred by a tweet criticizing the team after he wasn’t moved at the trade deadline. McKinley is clearly a young man who wears his heart on his sleeve and that seems to have gotten him in trouble this time.

So then, should the Giants make the move to acquire McKinley? Could his ability to rush off the edge (when healthy) be what the Giants have been looking for? Will they be wary of his injury history and bringing a potential problem into their locker room?