Last night, the Falcons traded up five picks to the 26th (switching first round picks with Seattle and giving them their third and seventh round picks as well) to draft UCLA edge rusher Takkarist McKinley. More commonly called by his nickname, Takk was rarely slated for the Falcons in mock drafts, mostly due to recent surgery.
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He made a memorable entrance on the NFL Network, holding a framed picture of his deceased grandmother and passionately telling Deion Sanders that he fulfilled his promise to her.
As a prospect, he’s fast, has great length, and plays low. Some had him going in the top 15 picks, but with that injury, a torn labrum in his shoulder, many thought he’d slip into the second round. There is worry that he can get pushed around on run plays, limiting his potential impact.
But the Falcons aren’t looking to play him against the run. Though there should be some regression with the loss of Kyle Shanahan to the 49ers, the team is banking on getting the lead early and unleashing McKinley and NFL sack leader Vic Beasley on opposing quarterbacks. Pro Football Focus compares him to fellow former first round pick of the Broncos defensive end Shane Ray.
Off the field, Takk’s story is inspiring. His grandmother, Myrtle Collins, raised him as her own, scraping by on cashed in recycled cans. He promised her on her deathbed that he would attend a Division I college and get out of their poor situation in Richmond, CA.
He hit numerous roadblocks on his way to UCLA including academic obstacles and powering through significant injuries, but McKinley preserved.
Takk is the kind of player that’s perfect for head coach Dan Quinn’s system and culture. Falcons’ fans can hope that he continues to persist on and off the field, especially in tracking down dangerous NFC South quarterbacks. The odds are in his favor now.