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Atlanta Falcons select DE Takkarist McKinley with No. 26 overall pick in 2017 NFL draft

First round of NFL draft underway in Philadelphia

Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

PHILADELPHIA – With the No. 26 pick in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft, the Atlanta Falcons selected Takkarist McKinley, a defensive end from UCLA.

CHECKLive list of 2017 1st round NFL draft picks

The Falcons traded the No. 31 overall pick and future picks to the Seattle Seahawks to move up to No. 26 and select McKinley.

Here's some information on McKinley's draft profile from NFL.com:

McKinley signed with Cal coming out of high school, but failed to qualify academically. He went to Contra Costa College in 2013, winning all-league recognition with 18 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. He transferred to UCLA the following year, once his grades were settled. McKinley played in 10 games, starting one, that season (six tackles, 3.5 for loss, 2.5 sacks). He started 12 games as a junior, really beginning to show promise as a pass rusher (7.5 tackles, 4.5 sacks, four pass breakups, two forced fumbles). "Tak" stepped out in his senior year, receiving first-team All-Pac-12 notice with 18 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, and six pass breakups.

Strengths

Relentless worker bee on the field. Refuses to give offensive tackles a snap to catch their breath. Not a content player and is always charging towards the ball. Plus closing burst to sideline enables contain. Makes as many effort plays as anyone in the Pac 12. Unusually adept at bouncing off of blocks and maintaining play focus. Good stop/start change of direction talent. Long strides eat up ground in space. Scouts expect a strong forty time at combine. Combines speed with long arms for increased tackle radius. Became a playmaker. Saw 36 percent of his tackles come within two yards or less of line of scrimmage while sack total spiked considerably. Spins out of wash down blocks to work back towards the play. Consistently stuffs cut attempts. Raw, but pass rush flashes some speed to power. Pass rush counters fueled by lateral agility and effort.

Weaknesses

Hand skill and overall usage is completely uncultivated and impedes pass rush potential. Lacks slaps, swipes and a serviceable rip move to grease the edge as a rusher. Punch has very little force. Needs to get hands and feet need in unison. Long arms are irrelevant at times due to slow punch. Lacks bend around the edge. Upright pass rush allows tackles to flatten him up and over the rush arc with just an average punch. Movements are a little bit stiff. Redirected too easily. Needs to continue to add play strength. Success predicated on effort over rush talent and functional power. Needs to combine all three elements to his game.

Expectations

Draft projection: Round 1

NFL comparison: Tamba Hali

Ascending edge prospect who racked up impressive TFL and sack numbers this year despite a relatively raw approach and skill set. He's a little stiff in his lower body, but flashes good athleticism once the ball is snapped. McKinley's motor is a translatable characteristic, but improved hand usage and pass rush mechanics are what could elevate his game to another level as a starting, 3-4 outside linebacker.

-- Lance Zierlein