Packers Draft Preview: UCLA OLB Takk McKinley

The very nature of the 3-4 defense means you’ll never has quite as many pass rushers as you’d like, and the Packers are certainly no exception.

Nearly every offseason, the Packers head towards the draft with an eye on guys who can get after the quarterback. This year, it seems the draft pool is well stocked with players who can do just that, and UCLA’s Takkarist McKinley is one of the best.

A former high school sprinter, McKinley overcame academic issues to find a home at UCLA. Now, after three years with the Bruins, he’s ready to try his hand at making life difficult for professional passers.

What are McKinley’s strengths?

  • Very good athlete; at 6-2, 250 he ran a 4.59 40-yard dash and posted a 33-inch vertical leap.
  • Unusually long arms help him battle much bigger offensive linemen.
  • High effort player who relies on motor to make plays.
  • Makes plays against the run; 36 percent of his tackles came within two yards of the line of scrimmage.

What are McKinley’s weaknesses?

  • Very unpolished as a pass rusher.
  • Could be considered undersized as both a 4-3 end and 3-4 outside linebacker.
  • Unclear how he’ll compete against players who can match him athletically.
  • Can be worn down and sometimes disappears.

How Takkarist McKinley fits with the Packers

Green Bay has a huge need for pass rushers. As a team, the Packers produced 40 sacks last year, but 7.5 came from the now-departed Julius Peppers. Beyond Nick Perry and Julius Peppers, Mike Daniels is the only remaining member of the front seven to produce more than one sack last season.

Given his size, McKinley probably fits better in the Packers’ 3-4 scheme than he would in a 4-3. He’d be able to utilize his tremendous speed without having to focus on defending the run as strenuously as in a 4-3.

The Packers also have a well-known affinity for Pac-12 players, and McKinley certainly fits the profile of the athletic, explosive players that have come from that conference in recent years.

Will the Packers draft McKinley?

It doesn’t seem to be a question of whether or not the Packers would draft McKinley as whether they’ll actually get the opportunity.

McKinley’s production and athleticism have been pushing him up draft boards since the moment the 2016 college season ended. While he was once considered a late-first round pick, some mock drafts have McKinley coming off the board as high as 15th.

One analyst even suggested that McKinley should be the first overall pick, although you might want to take his opinion with a grain of salt.

If he’s available, though, McKinley could be an excellent addition to the Packers’ defense, providing athleticism and pass rush ability that’s currently in short supply.