With the Pittsburgh Steelers in need of an edge rusher, that’s where we’ll start our Draft Journal for this year.
Takkarist McKinley, UCLA
6′ 2″ 245 pounds
What’s To Like: Had 18 tackles for loss, 10 sacks and six pass break-ups… Fits the 3-4 mold of what the Steelers typically like in an outside linebacker… On film, he reminds me a bit of LaMarr Woodley but will need to add some weight to his frame… Does a solid job of setting the edge and what I really like is how he closes from the back-side… One thing I always look for too is hustle. Does he watch plays that go away from him or does he pursue? Takk pursues with serious aggression… I like that he played both sides and from a two-point and three-point stance.
What’s Concerning: He’s relied on a lot of athleticism and I’m not sure how well that translates in the NFL… Why? Because you have to have a plethora of moves and be able to use both speed and power as a pass rusher… His hands are very average and combined with a lack of overall moves, that leaves him vulnerable to really good offensive tackles… He’ll need to learn how to combine everything rather than just use a move one play, power the next and so on… ‘Bend’ isn’t really that good either and that’s something he’ll have to develop.
[Update:] McKinley underwent surgery on his right shoulder for a torn labrum. He’ll miss several months of action.
The Verdict: I have a feeling he’s going to test really well at the NFL Combine and that will likely push him up the draft boards of interested teams. If he’s the Steelers’ selection I’m not sure how quickly he plays. The Steelers’ defense is notorious for taking its’ toll on rookies and with much to be developed he might be situational at best to start out. What you can’t deny is his motor and overall eagerness to get after people. He wears linemen down period.
Photo courtesy: LA Times
Video courtesy: draftbreakdown.com