The Patriots could use some young and athletic edge rushers in the draft, although that need is still determined by how free agency plays out. Edge rushers are starting to really pick up steam in the free agent market, with teams paying premium prices for any player with the ability to create consistent pressure. For a team like the Patriots that like to utilize market inefficiencies to build the best roster for the dollar, the draft is essential for getting premium edge rusher talent.
The draft this year has solid edge talent, although Myles Garrett is pretty much a one in 90 quadrillion chance of not going in the Top 5. After Garrett is Tim Williams, Carl Lawson, Takkarist McKinley, Charles Harris, and Taco Charlton as guys I have first round consideration for before looking at the tape. McKinley checks in at 6’2” 250, a little bit more compact than your average Patriots edge rusher draftee. McKinley is often an effort player, who makes a lot of plays because of his ability to close and non-stop motor. His technique needs refinement, especially counter moves, and needs to rush with a more consistent pad level. There is still a lot of untapped talent in McKinley’s game.
Vs. Stanford 2016
I was surprised how easily blocked McKinley was in the video. He got neutralized by double teams in the run and pass game. He was in position to make a few TFL for the game, but whiffed on the tackle. His only sack was a pure effort play where he was able to slip the block and tackle the QB as he tried to leave the pocket. Considering the quality of competition, I’m not too surprised Stanford was able to block him as well.
Vs. Colorado 2016
McKinley shows up more in this game as both a run defender and pass rusher. McKinley showed good speed to power in a couple bull-rushes out of both a 2 and 3 point stance. One play that stood out was when he was able to slip out of a cut block and gets a sack-fumble that led to turnover. McKinley was disruptive in both the run and pass game, although there were a few plays he left on the field.
Vs. Utah 2016
Another strong performance by McKinley as he was a dominant rusher
Patriots Fit: McKinley is a better pass rusher than run defender, although he does set a good edge in the run game. McKinley can rush out of both a two and three point stance effectively. He’s not a quick-twitch guy, having to win on strength and speed. Even though he’s listed at 250 pounds, he holds up fairly well against tackles in the run game. Double teams will give him problems, so the Patriots probably should keep him on the edge. McKinley’s technique isn’t as refined as I’d like, which means he’ll need to work on that. The Patriots have a talented DL coach in Brendan Daly, so they should be able to get the most out of him. In Year 1, he’s probably a pass rush specialist, but should become the top edge defender on the team by the end of his 2nd year. Patriots’ best shot at taking him will be with the 32nd pick, although I think he could easily go Top 15 in the draft, so he might also be a trade-up target.
Pro Comp: Jabaal Sheard. McKinley is a lot like Sheard, both of whom are guys who aren’t quick-twitch but have good speed and strength in their rush. The Patriots don’t necessarily free up their ends to just run the arc and work their way to the QB, so that’s not necessarily a knock on McKinley at all. McKinley can rush either side and his speed could play onto Special Teams, so I would expect him to contribute early.