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2017 NFL Draft grades: Atlanta gets high marks, praise for Takkarist McKinley selection

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The experts love the McKinley pick.

NFL Draft Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

We’ll be debating the relative merits of the trade that brought Takkarist McKinley to Atlanta for years now. That’s simply what fans do, especially Falcons fans.

What’s not in doubt is that Atlanta loved him, or they wouldn’t have surrendered assets to go up and get him. I have to be honest and say that I didn’t think McKinley would prove to be one of the team’s top targets, but now that he’s here, we can begin to digest what kind of impact he’ll have for this football team.

We can also get a better sense of what the experts think of the pick. Here’s a sampling of grades and analysis from across the Internet.

SB Nation

Grade: A-

McKinley has huge potential and athleticism, but needs time to come into his own. That’s perfect for a defense that has consistently added speed and potential, and waited for those players to blossom under Dan Quinn. This is a good landing spot for McKinley and more speed for the Falcons defense.

CBS Sports, Pete Prisco

Grade: A

Love this pick. This kid has big-time edge-rush ability. He does have medical issues, but should be OK.

Sports Illustrated

Grade: B+

The defending NFC champions only had six picks to begin with in this draft. They just gave up two of them (95 and 249) to move up five spots for McKinley. That’s the type of risk a team can take when it feels like it’s one guy away from a championship—the Falcons obviously were about as close as it gets to reaching the mountaintop last season. McKinley’s status for the start of 2017 is in doubt because of his post-combine shoulder surgery, but he should make an impact opposite Vic Beasley once he does get on the field. He thrived last season after UCLA transitioned from a 3-4 to a 4-3.

Bleacher Report, Mike Tanier

Grade: A-

Takkarist McKinley is a jaw-dropping athlete whose hardscrabble background makes you want to hug your kids and never let go: He was abandoned by his mother at an early age, raised by grandparents and cousins, started getting in trouble in tough neighborhoods at an age when most kids are watching Blue's Clues.

McKinley plays like someone who knows the importance of every snap. He runs like a safety, can get low and anchor as a run defender, has the leaping ability to knock down passes and is like a shark approaching the USS Indianapolis when he penetrates the backfield.

McKinley is coming off shoulder surgery, and while the Bruins lined him up all over the formation, his pass-rush technique is mostly just attack-kill-destroy. But man, what a force he'll be when he's healthy and all of the screws are tightened.

NFL Network, Mike Mayock

No Grade

"This Takkarist McKinley has toughness and speed. He's a 3-4 outside linebacker or 4-3 defensive end. I love his motor and his toughness. And now you pair him with Vic Beasley in sub-packages, watch out."

ESPN, Kevin Weidl

No Grade

What He Brings

An explosive edge rusher, McKinley has excellent snap anticipation and first-step quickness to threaten the edge quickly as a pass-rusher. Also plays with the physical demeanor and relentless motor that teams look for in the front seven. -- Kevin Weidl

How He Fits

The Falcons add another explosive edge rusher here opposite of Vic Beasley Jr., who led the league in sacks in 2016 (15.5). Atlanta continues to infuse speed into its defense and now has the potential to have a disruptive pair of book ends, which makes sense in a division in which they face Drew Brees, Jameis Winston and Cam Newton six times a year. -- Kevin Weidl