Highlighting one rookie that will become a star in 2017Photo: firstname.lastname@example.org/Curtis Compton
If you watched the NFL Draft in the spring you would have witnessed the emotional outburst of UCLA EDGE Takkarist McKinley, upon being drafted. This guy dropped the ‘F bomb’ on national television and didn’t get fined by Roger Goodell, so first and foremost, props to you.
The real reason he will find himself becoming a household name around playoff time next season though, is actually football related. McKinley is a 6’2 250lb pass rusher who had 18 tackles for loss and 10 sacks in 2016 for the Bruins. He has one of the best motors in the draft and is clearly passionate about his mission to become great. Not to mention he produced such numbers while playing with a torn shoulder labrum for his last two seasons. This guy is an absolute beast who is physically capable of playing all 16 games next season and quite possibly another run to the super bowl.
Arguably the biggest advantage McKinley will have isn’t within himself, but his teammate Vic Beasley Jr. who plays OLB on the opposite side. Beasley has racked up 19.5 sacks and 8 forced fumbles in his first two NFL seasons and we could see McKinley benefit from that production heavily. Offensive coordinators around the league will be scheming ways to keep Beasley off of their QB and by the time they slide protections in order to deal with him, McKinley will get to the backfield.
Atlanta’s defense is loaded again headed into 2017 and they seem to be stockpiling young talent on that side of the ball thanks to Dan Quinn’s defense-first approach. A return to the biggest stage is certainly possible next year and if the NFL has any hope of someone dethroning the Patriots, the McKinley-Beasley duo may just be the final chink in Brady’s armor.