2017 NFL Draft Kansas City Chiefs Scouting Report: Takkarist McKinley

2017 NFL Draft prospect Takkarist McKinley. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
2017 NFL Draft prospect Takkarist McKinley. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

The Kansas City Chiefs have been looking into pass rusher prospects recently. If Takkarist McKinley of UCLA is available, he’s a steal.

Over the past couple of weeks, the Kansas City Chiefs have shown a good bit of interest in pass rushers. The team interviewed several at the Combine and have been on hand for many more at recent Pro Days. Takkarist McKinley out of UCLA could be one of the best in the draft, yet may fall to the Chiefs at the 27th pick.

It might be surprising to some Chiefs fans to see the team so invested at pass rusher. After all, this is a squad that has Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, and Dee Ford on the roster. However, Houston has struggled to stay healthy in recent years. Meanwhile, Hali is closer and closer to retirement, and Ford has been anything but consistent and reliable. So a pass rusher actually does make some sense.

In reality, the Kansas City defense under Bob Sutton is built around its ability to rush the passer. An important wrinkle to that is that Sutton does not like to send extra defenders after the quarterback. That means pass rushers on this team need to be consistently effective. That clearly was not the case in 2016.

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While it is fully possible that Dee Ford puts it all together this year, Justin Houston is healthy for a full season, and Tamba Hali holds off father time one more season…it wouldn’t be smart to bank on all of that. So I definitely support the idea of the Chiefs hedging their bets at such an important area.

Takkarist McKinley – OLB – UCLA

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There may not have been a more feared defensive player in the Pac 12 than UCLA’s Takkarist McKinley in 2016. The pass rushing specialist absolutely lived in the backfield of opposing offenses all season. However, an incredibly strong draft class for pass rushers has pushed him down many draft boards.

Takkarist McKinley is a superb athlete with a quick first step and the natural athleticism to exploit it. McKinley moves almost as well as some running backs, and shows an eye for getting to the ball carrier. Long arms, good hand placement, and quality upper body strength to keep blockers from latching onto him. McKinley has also shown a knack for pass rushing moves for a young player.

There is some concern in regards to Takkarist McKinley’s size, but that will be mitigated from an OLB position. His lower body isn’t as thick as desired, and limits his ability to bull rush. Needs to work on keeping his pad level lower in order to counter his lack of lower body bulk. Can allow tight ends and running backs to get inside his pads. There is also some concern about his shoulder surgery, but most analysts don’t believe it is anything major.

Chiefs fans once raved about the “first step” of Dee Ford when he was drafted. Takkarist McKinley possesses a similar first step ability, but brings more to the picture afterwards. McKinley already does most of the things you look for when watching a speed rusher. If the Chiefs do draft him, expect him to be a change of pace pass rusher in key situations early on. There is great value both immediately and long-term here.

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The Kansas City Chiefs pass rush has not been as reliable as it should be in recent years. Adding a stud pass rusher in the draft may be the most prudent course of action for the team. If Takkarist McKinley is still available when the Chiefs draft, he would be a great addition.