Injuries to Ezekiel Ansah and woeful coverage among the linebackers and corners exposed just how poorly built the Detroit Lions pass rush was in 2016. Converted defensive tackle Kerry Hyder became a breakout star as a pass rushing specialist, but even that couldn’t inject much life into the team’s ability to generate pressure. Bob Quinn and his crew have been researching pass rushers all over the combine and pro day circuit and next on their list is explosive defensive end Takkarist McKinley.
Severely undersized as a defensive end, many consider McKinley solely a 3-4 rush linebacker. Concerns about his stiffness rushing off the edge were brushed off before the combine due to his obvious speed on tape, but were confirmed with poor agility drills. When coupled with his size, it brought his overall relative athletic score down to just a bit above average. The rest of his numbers, however, are top tier. They illustrate just how explosive he can be coming off the edge and coming in with an elite 1.6 10-yard split is going to make teams more excited than his impressive 4.59 40 time.
McKinley was productive in the Pac-12, notching 10 sacks in 2016 and 18 tackles for a loss. He added six pass deflections as well, showing that in addition to rushing the passer he can get his hands up and disrupt passing lanes. It’s not clear how McKinley would fit in a Lions defense which has tended to prize big, lengthy ends as starters. Smaller rushers have played in Detroit but have always been sparingly used in sub packages only. If you can rush the passer well enough, though, teams will find a use for you, and the Lions need to get more athletic along their defensive front seven. McKinley can help accomplish that if the Lions used their 21st overall pick on him. It’s unlikely he would fall much further than that, and it’s hard to imagine him lasting to the team’s second-round pick at 53rd overall.