Now that the Falcons season is over I will be evaluating some of the best players this year with gifs as well as giving them a grade!
In the 2017 draft, Takkarist Mckinley was taken with the 26th pick by the Falcons. Many of you might remember his amazing draft speech where the terms and hashtags “#FineMeLater” and “#Gogettothedamnquarterback” originated from:
He was an exciting player for the Falcons this year. Takk had 6 sacks this year which was 3rd among rookies this year. What is even more impressive is that the players above him, Carl Lawson and Myles Garrett, have 477 and 518 snaps respectively while Takk only played 401 snaps. He has an explosive get off and a great power move/bull rush that he uses very well. He not only impressed in the regular season but he impressed in his first two playoff games as well. He had one of his best games in his 1st playoff game vs. the Rams with 1 sack and 2.5 tackles and then followed it up with 1 sack and 2 tackles vs. the Eagles. In this article, I’ll take a look at how he got the 8 sacks and what it means for next year.
Week 1: @ Bears
In Takk’s first game of the year he played well but didn’t get a sack. Something I saw from him this whole year was his bull rush ability. On this play he completely bullies the LT and almost gets the QB down. What I love about Takk is how he doesn’t give up on plays and has tremendous hustle. He shows that on this play by bringing down the WR after Brian Poole’s initial tackle.
Week 2: @ Packers
Although nothing comes of it this play is still a good play for Takk. This play shows his elite speed. The distance is puzzling (although it’s the play call) but Takk still engages before Rodgers releases the ball.
Takk starts in a 2 point stance and executes the stunt well. He starts with the wide rush but then cuts inside and forces Rodgers to get the ball out. Another impressive thing with this play is his violent finish. Takk has shown his power this year with his bull rushes and uses it here to drive Rodgers into the ground. Here is what Rodgers looked like after this play:
Week 3: @ Lions
It took Takk until week 3 to get his first sack but that’s mainly because of his limited amount of snaps. I love how Takk changes direction to get leverage on the LT to get the sack. One bad thing about Takk on this play and for some of the season was his lack of bend. Typically he is stiffer than he needs to be and fortunately for him the LT is just as stiff.
Takk does extremely well to get a hand on the ball. Initially, he uses a bull rush to get pressure but reads Stafford’s movement and eyes well to get a hand up and get the 3rd down stop.
On this 3rd down, Takk excels as a run stopper. He does well to maintain leverage when he first engages. That advantage allows him to stay put until the RB makes the cut. As soon as the RB makes the cut, Takk disengages and brings him down. He has really impressed me with his ability to stop the run this year.
Week 4: vs. Bills
This play was in week 4 so I won’t be too critical of Takk here. He does extremely well to get off the block and get a shot at Taylor. Unfortunately he takes the wrong angle and overcommits when he should’ve stayed outside and not allow Taylor to change field. Even with all that, Takk still has a good shot at making the tackle but can’t wrap to stop Taylor on 3rd down.
Takk did well this year reading QBs. For a young player he does well here by staying disciplined and eliminating an open lane for Taylor. Unfortunately, he gets juked but even in week 4 you can see his development.
Week 5: vs. Dolphins
The burst from Takk on this play is impressive. He times the snap well and gets through the line quickly. The tackle does well to get hands on Takk but Takk does well to use his power and trip up the RB.
Week 8: @ Jets
Takk does a wonderful job here with his get off here. I also love his dip move that he uses to gain leverage against the RT and force the fumble. Takk throughout the year improved on his technical moves and he uses one here to get the strip sack.
Week 11: @ Seahawks
In my opinion, this is his best play of the year. His get off and his speed on this play is incredible. Not only does he engage with the RT first but he uses his hands well to shrug him off. On top of all that, he hits a second gear after disengaging and tracks Wilson down and forces the fumble. On this play, Takk does everything well. He uses his speed and power correctly but also uses his hands very well to get off the LT and #Gettothedamnquarterback.
Week 12: vs. Buccaneers
Takk’s ability to bend and get around the edge really improved this year after being one of the things scouting reports criticized him about. On this play, the RT offers resistance when Takk initially engages but it doesn’t cause him to go down and he gets around the tackle and gets the sack. I also like his finish on the sack. His initial hit doesn’t cause the QB to go down so he uses sheer strength to overpower him and get him on the ground.
Week 13: vs. Vikings
Oh my. Once again, Takk’s get off impresses me. He does extremely well here to speed rush and then use a dip move to get around the LT. After all that, he still has the energy as well as the strength to grab Keenum and take him down like a wrestler.
Week 15: @ Buccaneers
Takk takes a slightly wide angle here but is relentless. Takk does extremely well to continue with the rush as the LT engages and attempts to push him back. Eventually Takk tracks Winston down, tackles him, and strips the ball.
One of the downfalls of Takk’s game can sometimes be his speed. He is a speed rusher and on this play he gets so much momentum that the LTs first push wipes him out. You could also attribute this to Takk not using his hands very well. He could also not be hitting the weight room enough so Takk if you’re reading this get to the weight room! This play basically happened in the 1st matchup with the Buccaneers but he stays up on that play.
Week 16: @ Saints
You can’t teach hustle. Luckily, Takk doesn’t need to be taught hustle. He’s one of the most relentless players on the team and shows it on this play with a flying tackle. Not a slight to Clayborn but he stops on this play after the completion but Takk doesn’t stop running and somehow stays in stride to get the tackles.
Here is another look of the same play. I show you this to show you how he gets around the LT and after the completion continues to run and makes the tackle on the 3rd & 20 play.
Takk explodes on this play and gets through the line. One negative to this play is that he runs past Ingram. This could also be attributed to the block on him at the end so overall it shows just how explosive Takk can be.
Week 17: vs. Panthers
Cam Newton is one of the best rushing QBs in the league but Takk does a great job with Cam. Takk does a nice job here of not over committing to the handoff as he is the read key for Cam Newton. After Cam pulls it, Takk does well to read his movement and wrap him up. This is the second play in this piece where he is able to read the QBs movement well.
Calyborn and Takk on the same side immediately creates a disadvantage for the offensive line. Takk perfectly executes the stunt but luckily the LG gets a touch on him or Cam is on the ground. His speed from a 4 point stance is incredible and he almost gets to the quarteback in a small amount of time.
Another thing that has impressed me this year is how quickly Takk gets off the ball. He gets around the LT very quickly and has chance to get Cam. Cam steps up in the pocket and avoids Takk but it is still a wonderful rush from him. Takk also is held after Cam escapes the pocket but still tracks Cam and nearly makes the tackle.
Wild Card Round: @ Rams
This was an amazing pull move to get past Havenstein on this 3rd down play. Another thing to note is when he moves a little outside before the play and then runs a yard or two before cutting in. Takk has always had great speed off the edge and he has learned to use it well against slower tackles.
Although he doesn’t get the sack, Takk forces Goff outside and causes Goff to miss the pass. The bull rush here is perfectly executed by Takk. He gets under Havenstein’s pads and uses his strength to push Havenstein into Goff. If Havenstein hadn’t held Takk, I think he would’ve gotten the sack.
This play doesn’t show up on the stat sheet but it’s created by Takk. His initial inside step allows him to cut through the B gap and get an arm on Gurley. He would’ve had the sack if not for Havenstein cutting back to hit him. Takk does slow down Gurley and force him to change direction enough for Deion Jones to get the TFL.
This is a great play by Takk to get Gurley before he breaks the run for a decent gain. Takk is lined up on a TE which is a mismatch for the TE. Takk does a nice job of going towards the blocker and engaging. He establishes leverage and once Gurley makes his cut, Takk knows where to disengage. Another great aspect of this play is that Takk holds on to the tackle of Gurley even when Gurley is one of the best at breaking tackles.
This doesn’t show up on the stat sheet which is unfortunate because he forces Goff to step up in the pocket and get rid of the ball quickly. On this play Takk starts in a 2 point stance rather than a traditional 3 point stance. The one problem i have with his initial movement is that he doesn’t take a step towards the QB and instead widens his feet. If Takk wasn’t as fast, this could lead to the LT getting the advantage. Because this is a play-action pass, I will give him the benefit of the doubt with his inital step because he could’ve been watching for a run. After Takk engages, he uses a rip move to get around Havenstein and if not for the LG, I think he would’ve gotten the sack.
Divisional Playoff Round: @ Eagles
This was Takk’s only sack of the game. He starts in a 2 point stance. I like how he and Clayborn are on the same side as it overpowers their left side with 2 of the Falcons best pass rushers. Takk starts relatively high but as he engages with the LT he lowers his pad and bullies him to the ground. His pad level got much better in the last few weeks and it led to him getting two sacks in the playoffs.
One of the things Takk needs to work on during the offseason is his hand fighting. On this play, Takk uses a wonderfully executed swim move to get around the RG. It stinks that he couldn’t get past because he executed the spin move well and was close to getting the sack. I think this could’ve been called for holding but if Takk works on his hand fighting this could’ve been an easy sack.
You can tell Takk spent a lot of time in the film room this year. His play recognition got progressively better the whole year. He reads this play the whole way and almost blows it up. Unfortunately Zach Ertz makes a great block and prevents Takk from making the tackle.
Takk not only is a pass rusher but has vastly improved this year as a run stopper. On this play he crashes the line and recognizes where Ajayi is going. Reminds me of how Julius Peppers used to crash the line immediately and stop the run.
For Takk Mckinley being the 26th pick, he had a great rookie season. He played extremely well the whole year and immediately became a feared pass rusher that forced offensive coordinators to gameplan for him. He has the hustle and passion that Quinn wants in his defense as well as his speed. He is the perfect pass rusher for the Falcons as he is very fast and physical. He improved over the year on his moves like his improved swim move and his impressive dip move which led to multiple sacks this years. The only thing I would really like him to improve this offseason is his hand fighting. That’s one of the only things lacking from his game and if he can get better at hand fighting, he can become an elite pass rusher in his second year.