June 15 is the day that Mr. McKinley finishes with his college courses. It is also the same day that the Falcons minicamp ends. So, Big TAK will need to wait until the end of July for training camp to kick in to show off his game and physical prowess. It will also mark nearly five months since his shoulder surgery, which he will rehab all through training camp.
The reason I chose to write about this young man is not only his on field play but also the off the field promise that he kept to his grandmother who passed in 2011. When I think about Tak, a lyric comes to my mind from the metal legends, HATEBREED.
“Born to bleed, fighting to succeed, built to endure what this world throws at me.”
This kid has led a life that most of us could never imagine. His mother abandoned him when he was five years old, and he never knew his father. He spent time being homeless and his grandmother took him in. She collected recyclables to pay their bills growing up. When his grandmother was dying he promised her he would play for a Division 1 college team. He did just that by getting a scholarship to UCLA and worked his way up the depth chart and ended up becoming a first round pick in this past NFL draft.
Now, if you know my writing you know I LOVE pure and real passion. One of the best things the NFL did was to not fine Big Tak when he got drafted. He came out holding a framed photo of his grandma and was overcome with emotion and passion and dropped an “F-bomb”. He let the world know, that through all of those countless hardships, measured steps, and correct life choices, he made it! In my humble opinion, I love when people swear in passionate situations. It shows they have some substance and DON’T believe but know deep down that they are in love and truly passionate about who and what they will fight for.
Mr. McKinley came onto the UCLA campus in 2014 after a stint with Cal and then Contra Costa College in 2013. He had some academic problems in the past but after he resolved those he went on to have a killer senior year by receiving first-team All-Pac-12 notice with 18 TFL, 10 sacks, and 6 passes defended. Coming in at a strong 250 lbs. and standing 6’4”, the “TAK ATTACK” will be among the better rookie defensive ends coming into the NFL this year.
NFL Combine Numbers
Big Tak, in my opinion, had a great combine and was somewhat a quiet performer compared to the other stellar defensive lineman in the draft. Besides the amazing 40-time for a 250 lb. human and the get up vertical we all love, I noticed the bench press mark he set. His bench press number may not matter according to other scouting profiles. I beg to differ hardcore. This shows commitment. Unless, the player you are scouting is a natural, from-birth strong ox, then this take goes out the window. When you see most players lifting so much at one time, like Big Tak’s bench numbers, it shows that he is coming back to work out to gradually get stronger. He is committed to his craft, and I think he will be around for years to come.
After watching many games and film of the UCLA defense in 2016, McKinley stood out for me on many occasions. The length of his limbs and turf this kid can cover with long strides is remarkable. He has the knack to make his way back to the play after he initially disrupts the play. His motor is non-stop to the point I see many offensive linemen sucking oxygen to keep up with his oncoming onslaught. The way he spins out of clean-up blocks is amazing. He can get into the backfield quick and then he has the sideline to sideline speed to make the tackle.
I am also impressed by the way he stops cut blocks and will completely take over a game by his sheer effort alone. I would put him up with any defensive playmaker coming out of the Pac-12 in 2016. The kicker here is that he is now a hand in the dirt DE in the fast defense of the Falcons. I might pay for this later but if Big Tak can come back from the injury, I think he could be in the running for defensive rookie of the year.
The one thing Mr. McKinley needs to work on is one of my favorite aspects of a prospects game, as a defensive player you have to have violent hands. The more your hands become a distraction the better suited you are to get the sack of TFL. He needs to be coached up on his hand usage or this WILL throw a wrench in his up and coming QB sack career.
One last thing is if I were his defensive line coach I would be yelling these two words to him so much that he would hear it in his sleep, ‘HEAD DOWN!!!” He tends to be stiff and upright too much in pursuit and rushing the passer. These are coachable tendencies, and I think he will overcome them with the work ethic he has and his determination to stand out.
If this impressive edge prospect (with beautiful sack and tackle for loss numbers!) can get into the Falcons starting lineup and pair with Vic Beasley, I know he will be a huge steal and huge asset to your IDP squads. If he can get the coaching he needs on his hand usage and try not to be so upright all the time he can become a premier defensive end in IDP. So, if you’re super-duper high on Solomon Thomas and didn’t get to land him then, “TAKE TAK!” You may get the better IDP scorer in 2017 and hell, maybe beyond.
Thank you for reading and if you want even more in-depth scouting profiles, or to just chat about fantasy then follow me on Twitter: @FatAdamSchefter.