Falcons’ rookie edge defender Takkarist McKinley made headlines on Day 1 of the 2017 NFL Draft for his fiery personality, choice of words, and the now-famous picture of his grandmother that he brought on stage. His story was even more inspiring—a tale of growing up in a difficult situation, facing a great deal of adversity, and overcoming it on the path to achieving his dream.
Since joining the Falcons, Takk has made a name for himself as a ferocious pass rusher with solid run-stopping ability. He’s had one of the best rookie seasons ever for a Falcons’ edge rusher, piling up six sacks in limited playing time. Takk is aggressive and athletic, but what really sets him apart is his relentless motor. I recall one play in particular, early in the season, where Takk ran across the entire formation to make a tackle from behind. There’s absolutely no quit in him—when he’s on the field, he’s always on.
Takk has already developed a devoted following of Falcons fans—myself included—due to his style of play and his attitude. He has an aura of passion about him that is not only fun to watch, but also infectious. That personality inspires his fellow players as well as his fans. He’s just so incredibly fun to watch at times—and this is really just the beginning for McKinley.
Take this play against the Vikings, for example.
That is, perhaps, my favorite defensive play of the year for the entire defense. It’s impossible not to be fired up after watching that clip.
Add to that Takk’s engaging and genuine off-field personality (this video in particular comes to mind), and you have the potential for a future NFL star.
I caught up with Takk after the Falcons’ Week 17 victory over the Carolina Panthers to ask him about his adjustment to the NFL game, and—perhaps most importantly—whether or not he is still a ramen connoisseur.
First off, I asked him how the game has changed for him from Week 1 to Week 17 and if the game had begun to slow down at all.
“Yeah, I’d say it’s for sure slowed down. You know, at the end of the day, it’s just football. It’s something I’ve been doing since high school. You know, you just, you kind of adapt to the game [over the course of the season].”
I then asked Takk if he had made any changes to his play over the course of the season, and what the biggest adjustments had been for him since leaving college football for the NFL.
“I wouldn’t really say that I’ve changed anything. It’s more that I’ve started to understand the game—the NFL—a little bit more. How each tackle sets and plays differently, how each offense is different. You just gotta put in the time and the work with the coaches, and keep trying to get better.”
Finally, I asked Takk the question that I know all of you have been dying to hear the answer to: does he still enjoy ramen since coming to the NFL?
“Man, I had [ramen] last night, actually. Three packs of them—all chicken.”
But my investigative work wasn’t yet done. I had to know, what was Takk’s favorite flavor of the delicious noodle soup?
“That’s a tough one...they’re all good...but I was in a chicken mood last night.”
Fair enough, Takk, fair enough.
Takk then shook my hand—which made me feel like a small child, because his hands are huge—and went off to enjoy the rest of his evening. Wherever he, and the Falcons, end up finishing in 2017, we’ll all have the great privilege of watching McKinley continue to develop in Atlanta over the next several seasons.