ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. released the second version of his 2017 NFL Mock Draft. The analyst listed Takkarist McKinley as the Indianapolis Colts’ first round pick, which is who he had them taking in his first mock draft.
No matter what the Colts do in free agency, they will need to address plenty of roster issues in the draft. Most people think a pass rusher, and specifically an edge rusher, is the biggest positional need the team needs to address this summer.
A lot of people think they will wait until the 2017 draft to so. Kiper is one of those people and think McKinley will be the Colts’ guy on draft day. This what he said this time about why McKinley makes sense for Indianapolis:
"“Dwight Freeney is long gone, but now so, too, is Robert Mathis and his 123.5 career sacks. There is no question the Colts need to continue to work on the offensive line, but there simply isn’t appropriate value at tackle at this spot in the draft. They also really need a pass-rusher, and McKinley is explosive off the edge.”"
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At UCLA, McKinley only had six sacks combined in his sophomore and junior seasons. However, he had a standout senior season with 10 sacks, 18 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles and 61 combined tackles.
As a result, he was named a 1st-Team All-Pac-12 selection in 2016. Also, he has quickly risen up draft boards since the end of the college football season.
The one thing that should caution people about McKinley is his one year of stellar production. Why did it take him until his senior year to break out? That is something Chris Ballard and Chuck Pagano need to diligently research if they are targeting him.
However, the one thing scouts love is McKinley’s motor. NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein believes that “translatable characteristic” will help him be a starting outside linebacker. He did mention McKinley needs to work on his technique to be a dominant pass rusher.
Again, the Colts need to rebuild their defense, and specifically need to replenish the outside linebacker position. Pass rusher Robert Mathis retired and aging veterans Erik Walden and Trent Cole are set to hit the free agent market this summer.
With Indianapolis obviously needing a pass rusher, McKinley would be a welcomed addition to the team. If the Colts do select him, he will need to undergo a position change with them. He played defensive end at UCLA and will need to transition to a 3-4 outside linebacker in Indy.
For people unsatisfied with McKinley as an edge pass rusher, there could be others in play for the Colts. Kiper had Michigan’s Taco Charlton selected eighth overall and had Stanford’s Solomon Thomas selected 11th overall.
Meanwhile, Tennessee Derek Barnett and Alabama’s Tim Williams would still be on the board in this scenario. If the draft plays out the way Kiper thinks it will, there will be plenty of pass rushing options available for the Colts with the 14th or 15th overall pick.
Overall, McKinley addresses a glaring need for the Colts. While McKinley is not a polished product yet, his motor and attitude are things a team can rally behind.
Ballard wants to build his football roster through the draft and with the right type of players. With that perspective, McKinley is what Ballard is looking for both on and off the field.