UCLA linebacker Takkarist McKinley was selected in the first round of the NFL Draft Thursday by the Atlanta Falcons.
McKinley was taken with the No. 26 selection and could turn into another terrific defender piloted by head coach Dan Quinn. The Falcons coach is a defensive specialist and knows how to turn talent into special pros. McKinley could be another top, Pro Bowl-type defender in Quinn’s regime.
Last season, UCLA did not do so hot. McKinley might have been the standout on the team that no one even heard of because the Bruins fell really fast in the rankings and in the Pac-12. McKinley had 10 sacks for the Bruins last year. He also earned a first-team All-Pac-12 selection in his final year with the Bruins.
Now the focus is helping get the Falcons to the Super Bowl. Atlanta blew it big time in February, blowing a 28-3 lead to the New England Patriots. Now, McKinley might not be big factor to help the defense in a situation like that. But could definitely help out a team that linebackers like Vic Beasley, an all-pro, and Deion Jones, an all-rookie.
Atlanta’s defense is shaping up and McKinley will be another piece. McKinley also had the biggest viral moment of the entire draft when he brought up a framed photo of his grandmother with him to the podium.