The Falcons are going to have to count heavily on their young, capable defenders if they’re going to make a deep playoff run. They’ll face a strong offense in the Los Angeles Rams, and if they manage to push past a weakened Eagles team, they could be facing a run-heavy attack like the Vikings, Saints, or Panthers. There won’t be any cakewalks here.
That’s why Takk McKinley is going to be such a critical player here in the playoffs. He possesses a stellar combination of size, strength, and speed that has allowed him to be one of the team’s leading pass rushers despite limited playing time, and he played very well when the Falcons gave him more snaps against the Panthers. As a player who can potentially be a factor both against the run and as a pass rusher, he’ll be integral against basically all the teams named above.
That’s why Quinn had this to say about Takk, which I think is essentially correct.
Quinn on Takk: He’s been an impressive guy for us. He’s hitting his stride, it’s important for us.— Kelsey Conway (@FalconsKelsey) January 1, 2018
I’ve been waiting for Takk’s snaps to catch up with his performance, and Week 17 was an encouraging sign in that regard. Despite his frequently limited snaps, Takk clocked six sacks in 2017, the second-highest total on the team behind Adrian Clayborn, who memorably put up six sacks in one week.
Derrick Shelby is an impactful run defender, Brooks Reed is solid across the board, Vic Beasley is a fine pass rusher, and Courtney Upshaw occasionally does fun things, but McKinley might have higher upside as a three down player than any of them, and he’s already showing some of that promise. The defense will be better for having him on the field more, and particularly this coming Sunday against the Rams, who can beat you on the ground or through the air.
Takk is going to be an elite player in this league someday soon, I firmly believe, and I’m hoping the playoffs will build on his very solid rookie season.