Takkarist McKinley

Falcons “Still Deciding” On Takk McKinley’s 5th-Year Option

Falcons head coach Dan Quinn told reporters earlier Tuesday that the team is undecided on whether to exercise the fifth-year option in edge rusher Takkarist McKinley‘s rookie contract, according to Jason Butt of The Athletic Atlanta. Butt first reported that Quinn said the team would decline McKinley’s option just after general manager Thomas Dimitroff said the team had yet to make a decision. When Quinn was asked to clarify, he deferred to Dimitroff and said the team was “still deciding.”

McKinley has failed to develop in the way Atlanta hoped when they selected him with the 26th overall pick back in the 2017 NFL Draft. While he has consistently taken the field for the Falcons and put up reasonable production, he has yet to emerge as a legitimate game-changer.

As a rookie, McKinley appeared as a rotational pass rusher in all 16 games and accrued 6.0 sacks. In his sophomore campaign, McKinley started 8 games, recorded 22 tackles, and 7.0 sacks and expectations were he could become a game-changer with time. However, in 2019, McKinley turned in his least productive campaign even while receiving the most playing time of his career (13 starts).

McKinley’s fifth-year option would be above eight figures and would be a very large gamble on a player who has yet to take the next step at the NFL level.

Falcons’ Takk McKinley Done For The Year

This time of year a lot of players are getting shut down for the season, and we’ve got another notable one to pass along. Falcons pass-rusher Takk McKinley is done for the year, head coach Dan Quinn announced Monday. 

He apparently suffered a shoulder injury during Atlanta’s upset win over the 49ers yesterday. The Falcons drafted McKinley 26th overall out of UCLA back in 2017. He’s been up and down during his three years as a pro, showing plenty of flashes but failing to put it all together consistently. His playing time has increased each year he’s been in the league, but despite playing the highest rate of snaps in his career this season, his sack production went down.

He had six as a rookie and seven last year, but will finish the 2019 campaign with only 3.5 in 15 games. Two of those came two weeks ago in a win over the Panthers. It’s been a disappointing season for Atlanta’s defense, and now they’ll be leaning even more heavily on Adrian Clayborn and Vic Beasley to provide some pressure over the final couple of games.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC South Notes: Panthers, Falcons, Bucs

Although initial reports indicated Gerald McCoy‘s visit with the Panthers would begin on Thursday, he’ll actually begin meeting with the club on Friday, tweets Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. The Ravens and Browns have already hosted McCoy, and despite a slew of other reported interest, it appears McCoy will decide between Baltimore, Cleveland, and Carolina, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com suggests (Twitter link). McCoy, 31, has reportedly drawn offers as high as $11MM per year, although that figure is difficult to believe at face value, especially given Ndamukong Suh — McCoy’s replacement in Tampa Bay — collected only $9.25MM on a one-year deal.

Here’s more from the NFC South:

  • The Panthers are planning to run more 3-4 looks on defense, at least when they’re in base on early downs, as David Newton of ESPN.com writes. Rumors of a scheme change in Carolina have been bubbling for months, but head coach Ron Rivera hadn’t yet confirmed the move. Per Newton, the Panthers began experimenting with 3-4 fronts after Rivera took over play-calling for the final month of the season. According to Warren Sharp’s personnel data, Carolina ranked near the bottom of the league in 2018 in facing three-plus receivers — if that trend continues next year, the Panthers will spend a good deal of time in their new 3-4 base defense.
  • Defensive end Takkarist McKinley has been experimenting at linebacker during the Falcons‘ organized team activities, reports D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. McKinley, a first-round pick in the 2017 draft, has been lining up over the tight end on certain plays. “There will be some packages where can be a linebacker,” head coach Dan Quinn said. “The value in that (presents the question of) is he a rusher or is he a dropper?” The 23-year-old McKinley posted eight sacks and 50 pressures on 617 snaps last season.
  • Cam Newton has continually expressed optimism that he’ll be ready for training camp after undergoing offseason shoulder injury, and the Panthers quarterback recent took a step in the right direction. Newton has begun throwing a regulation size football, per Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer. The 30-year-old signal-caller sat out the final two games of the 2018 season while dealing with shoulder pain that eventually led to his operation.
  • New director of athlete performance Greg Skaggs will head a sports science department on the Buccaneers‘ staff, tweets Greg Auman of The Athletic (Twitter link). Skaggs and his crew will work on training and conditioning techniques in an effort to “optimize player health and production.”

Police Detain Falcons DE Takk McKinley

An unspecified situation Tuesday at a Los Angeles hotel led to police detaining Falcons defensive end Takk McKinley, TMZ reports.

McKinley was not arrested and is undergoing mental evaluation.

A friend of the Atlanta defender believed it was in his best interests to get help on Tuesday afternoon, and the police on scene concurred. McKinley ended up cooperating and leaving a high-end hotel with police, according to the website. Dan Quinn addressed the situation.

We were recently made aware of the situation involving Takk in Los Angeles earlier today,” Quinn said in a statement. “Any time a situation occurs that is or could be related to mental health issues we take it very seriously. We will do everything we possibly can to support and assist Takk as our players’ mental and physical well-being are always our top priority.”

The 23-year-old defensive end just finished his second season with the Falcons. A UCLA alum and 2017 Falcons first-round pick, McKinley started eight games this season, the first such assignments of his career, and led the Falcons with seven sacks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Notes: Titans, Mariota, Falcons, McKinley, Colts, Doyle, Eagles, Ajayi

Marcus Mariota‘s injury remains a mystery. It hasn’t been disclosed exactly what he’s dealing with although it has reportedly caused him to lose some feeling in his hand. Blaine Gabbert started, and won, for the Titans last week, and it’s possible he’s asked to do so again this week against the Jaguars.

Titans coach Mike Vrabel told reporters that he would make the decision between Gabbert and Mariota within the next “24 hours” and that he would let them know then according to Jim Wyatt of the Titans’ official website (Twitter link). If Mariota can’t go it would be a huge blow for Tennessee against the league’s top defense. One thing that could make their matchup a bit easier is that Jalen Ramsey was added to the injury report Friday with an ankle injury, although it’s unclear if he’s in any danger of missing the game.

Here’s more injury updates from around the league:

  • The Falcons just can’t seem to catch a break. It was already known they’d be without Devonta Freeman and several other starters, but it was announced today that they’d also be without talented pass-rusher Takkarist McKinley. McKinley is currently dealing with a groin injury.
  • The Colts will be quite shorthanded for their trip to Philadelphia as the team ruled out tight end Jack Doyle, running back Marlon Mack, defensive tackle Denico Autry, and right tackle Anthony Castonzo. Doyle’s injury is a big blow, as he formed an effective tight end duo with Eric Ebron through the first two games.
  • The Eagles will also be significantly shorthanded on offense, with their backfield being particularly banged up. Running backs Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles have been ruled out, while Corey Clement is questionable. If Clement isn’t able to go, the running back situation would be dire. Alshon Jeffery is questionable, but reporters have written that he’s very unlikely to play.

Falcons Sign Takkarist McKinley

The Falcons have now signed their entire 2017 draft class. First round defensive end Takkarist McKinley, third round linebacker Duke Riley, fifth round running back Brian Hill, and fifth round tight end Eric Saubert are all under contract, the team announced. Takkarist McKinley (featured)

The Falcons traded up to the Seahawks’ No. 26 pick during the first round in order to select McKinley, a former star at UCLA. McKinley went viral for his outpouring of emotions on the stage, but the Falcons believe that he’ll be known more for his play on the field before long. The 6’2″, 250 pound athlete has been widely praised for his high motor and his big wingspan should allow him to fend off blockers at the next level. In his senior year at UCLA, McKinley racked up 61 total tackles, 18 tackles for a loss, and ten sacks – all career highs.

Here’s the complete rundown of the Falcons’ draft class:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints Rumors: Butler, Lattimore, Foster

Last night, Saints coach Sean Payton had a candid chat with reporters and shared some interesting info. Here’s a look at the highlights:

  • The coach said all of the trade possibilities the team previously considered for veteran cornerbacks “still remain open” depending on how the rest of the draft falls (Twitter link via Mike Triplett of ESPN.com). Payton, ostensibly, is referring to the Saints’ trade talks with the Patriots regarding Malcolm Butler. When New Orleans drafted Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore with the No. 11 pick, many assumed that the team would back off of its pursuit. Personally, I don’t believe that the Saints will be willing to give up significant compensation for Butler now that they have Lattimore, particularly since locking him down will require a hefty contract.
  • Payton said the Saints even had talks about possibly trading up to land Lattimore. They also listened to offers to trade down, but ultimately stood pat (Twitter link via Triplett). He added that Lattimore was the team’s third or fourth ranked player on the board heading into the draft (Twitter link via Nick Underhill of The Advocate).
  • The Saints were considering Reuben Foster and Takkarist McKinley at No. 32 before they came off the board, Payton told reporters (Twitter link via Triplett). With both players gone, the Saints selected offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk.
  • Payton views Ramczyk, who played left tackle at Wisconsin, as a right tackle (Twitter link via Herbie Teope of the Times-Picayune).

Falcons Trade Up To Seahawks’ No. 26 Pick

The Falcons traded up to the Seahawks’ No. 26 pick. With the pick, they have selected UCLA linebacker/defensive end Takkarist McKinley. The Seahawks will receive Atlanta’s No. 31 pick plus third and seventh round choices.

McKinley came into the draft process with tons of hype but his stock has fallen somewhat in recent weeks. Some teams may have cooled on the pass rusher, but the Falcons are as excited about him as ever.

McKinley may slot in as a starting defensive end opposite of Adrian Clayborn. Currently, it’s something of a full house at linebacker with Vic Beasley, Deion Jones, and De’Vondre Campbell as likely starters.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Rumors: Cowboys, Conley, McCaffrey

Let’s round up the latest NFL Draft rumors:

  • The Cowboys should not been overlooked as a possible destination when it comes to Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley, Tom Pelissero of USA Today tweets. Dallas need cornerback help and, as Pelissero notes, they’re used to taking risks. Dallas had Conley in for a visit and also phoned him on Wednesday. Conley, of course, is dealing with allegations of rape, and could fall as far as the third round. If he’s cleared of all charges, Conley could represent an excellent value for the Cowboys at the end of Round 1.
  • Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter) gets the sense that Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey is likely to go in the top ten. One NFL GM told Schefter that McCaffrey “had the best combine workout I’ve seen. Ever.” McCaffrey has been linked to the top-10 range for some time, and a number of clubs within that space make sense as a landing spot. The Eagles, sitting at No. 14, are reportedly “infatuated” with McCaffrey, but understand they may have to trade ahead of Carolina.
  • Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (on Twitter) wouldn’t be shocked if the Chargers beat the Panthers to the punch on selecting McCaffrey. Los Angeles used a first-round pick on running back Melvin Gordon in 2015, and he broke out with 10 rushing touchdowns during his sophomore campaign. However, the Chargers did lose Danny Woodhead in free agency, and McCaffrey would presumably fill Woodhead’s passing down role with aplomb.
  • The Ravens‘ interest in Corey Davis is real, Peter Schrager of NFL Network tweets. Baltimore owns the No. 16 overall pick, and is certainly in the market for a wide receiver after losing Steve Smith to retirement. Former first-round pick Breshad Perriman has been injured during much of his NFL tenure, so the Ravens could use another pass-catcher to pair with Mike Wallace. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reported a strong link between Davis and the Ravens on Wednesday.
  • Both UCLA linebacker Takkarist McKinley and Washington wide receiver John Ross could slide due to their medical history, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Both players underwent surgery during the predraft process. While McKinley and Ross are certainly considered talented prospects, interested clubs will have to weigh injury risk against potential upside.

Fins Eyeing Derek Barnett, Charles Harris

The Dolphins have defensive ends Derek Barnett and Charles Harris high on their draft boards, league sources tell Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, and would consider selecting either with the No. 22 pick.Derek Barnett (Vertical)

Miami does have other needs, and could consider other positions in the first round. In PFR’s live mock draft, for instance, I sent Western Kentucky guard Forrest Lamp to South Beach. Indeed, if Barnett and Harris are both off the board by the time the Dolphins’ turn comes around, the club may be open to targeting higher-rated players at positions other than defensive end, per Salguero. Edge rushers such as Michigan’s Taco Charlton and UCLA’s Takkarist McKinley don’t figure to interest Miami as much as Barnett or Harris, and the Dolphins may go another direction if those are the best defensive ends available.

The Dolphins “love” Barnett, as Salguero reported last month, and there’s a chance the Tennessee product could still be on the board at pick No. 22. Barnett posted 33 sacks over the past three seasons, and was a highly productive player at the collegiate level. Doubters, however, point to Barnett’s poor measurables which could indicate a lack of explosion. Harris, meanwhile, is shooting up draft boards after putting up 16 sacks for Missouri from 2015-16. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com compares the 6’3″, 253-pounder to NFL edge rusher Connor Barwin.

While Miami re-signed Andre Branch and extended Cameron Wake this offseason, the club still desperately needs depth at defensive end. Wake is now 35 years old, and the only other pass rushers on the roster aside from Branch are 32-year-old William Hayes and Terrence Fede, the latter of whom hasn’t made an impact in three NFL seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.