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Falcons player profile: EDGE Takkarist McKinley

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We’re kicking off our Falcons player profile series with a look at the projected starters. Today’s player is former first-round pick Takkarist McKinley. What can we expect from McKinley heading into a contract year?

Tennessee Titans v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

We’re in the depths of the offseason here at The Falcoholic, and there has been little to nothing in the way of interesting news in ages. So, we’ll have to make some content of our own in the meantime. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be bringing you a new Player Profile series where we’ll take a look at each of the players on Atlanta’s roster. I’ll break down their measurables, past production, and try to project their 2020 season with the Falcons.

We’ll get things started with the projected starters. The first group I’ll be taking a look at is EDGE, where the Falcons invested a ton of free agency capital to try and improve upon a unit which produced only 28 sacks in 2019.

Today we’ll take a look at fourth-year player Takkarist McKinley, who is coming off a disappointing and injury-marred 2019 season which saw him appear in only 14 games. What can we expect from the former first-round pick in a contract year?

EDGE Takkarist McKinley

TEDGE

Age: 24 (25 during 2020 season)

Career Production: 45 games played, 21 starts | 71 total tackles, 21.0 TFL, 16.5 sacks, 1 PD, 2 FF

2019 Production: 29 total tackles, 7.0 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 20 total pressures

Previous Teams: Drafted 1st Round (#26 overall) by the Atlanta Falcons (2017-present)

Measurables:

A player who came to Atlanta with a ton of hype and post-draft fame—Takk was perhaps the most talked-about player from draft night due to his emotional on-stage selection—McKinley has thus far failed to produce at a high level. A terrific athlete with excellent length, McKinley should have been a perfect fit in Dan Quinn’s defense. But his shoulder has simply never been right since his college days, and McKinley has thus far failed to make a major impact at the NFL level.

Takk turned in a respectable rookie campaign in 2017, generating 7.0 TFL and 6.0 sacks while playing just 38% of the snaps in a rotational role. He also added 2.0 sacks in the playoffs, and expectations were high for his sophomore season. Takk did improve on those numbers slightly on a far worse team in 2018, putting up career highs in sacks (7.0) and total pressures (25), but didn’t have the breakout year many expected. In 2019, Takk played in just 14 games due to injury and had a lackluster season as a pass rusher with just 3.5 sacks and 20 total pressures.

Following Takk’s career has been frustrating, because he always appears so close to breaking out. His fiery attitude and on-field demeanor have won him many fans, but his lack of production is starting to eliminate the goodwill of both the fanbase and the coaching staff. 2020 is very much a “put up or shut up” year for Takk, as the Falcons declined his fifth-year option. It will be up to McKinley to show if he can be anything more than a solid rotational piece—but if he has a strong season, he could be in line for a significant payday in a similar manner to Dante Fowler.

Projection: Around 8.0 sacks and 10.0 TFL. I expect Takk to have the best season of his career and bounce-back from a disappointing 2019, but I’m not expecting anything too crazy in terms of production. He’ll be a solid #2 pass rusher for the Falcons in 2020 who should form a formidable duo with Dante Fowler.