The Atlanta Falcons came into the 2017 NFL Draft will holes at both Defensive end and at Right guard to fill. They decided to fill the former by picking Takkaris McKinley from UCLA. They had to trade up from 31 to 26 to select the speed rusher but the NFL ready prospect seemed more than up to the task, a thought that was echoed by his emotional interview with Deion Sanders. McKinley came from a rough beginning, having not had his father in his life and his mother abandoning him at the age of 5. McKinley was raised by his grandmother in Oakland and promised her on her deathbed that he would make it as a football player.
McKinley already has NFL ready strength and speed, and should form a scary partnership with fellow speed rusher Vic Beasley Jr. The main things that need refinement are his technical abilities. McKinley was viewed as a higher draft pick but due to a shoulder injury he fell to the Falcons at 26. Even though the Falcons had to give up a third and seventh round pick to get him, McKinley shows all the ability and attitude that should meld well with the Falcons style of play.
With McKinley’s explosiveness and mix of speed and strength should make him a day one starter at Defensive End, but his injury history is something to look out for. If he can stay healthy, there is no doubt that he can be an answer for the Falcons pass rushing problems. His emotional interview shows the type of passion that he will bring to the Falcons pass rushing corps.
The main concern heading into the second round for the Falcons is whether or not they will be able to fill their hole at Right Guard. One would think that both Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney should already be off the draft board by the time the Falcons take their second pick at number 63. This means they will either have to draft wisely in the later rounds or promote from within. While their replacement options are a bit thin, both Ben Garland and Wes Schweitzer should get decent looks in training camp to fill the whole vacated by the retirement of Chris Chester.
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