Pass rushing specialist Takk McKinley thrives on creating chaos and knows his grandmother will be proud of the promise he's going to keep that he once made to her.
If there is one element of football that Takk McKinley thrives at, it's creating chaos for the offense. The edge rusher out of UCLA was a constant force at the line of scrimmage during his college career, disrupting many plays before they even started and finishing with 18 tackles for loss and 10 sacks (three resulting in fumbles) as a senior in 2016.
McKinley brought it every down, something he learned at an early age from his grandmother that raised him.
"It all starts with my grandma," McKinley said at the NFL Combine. "She always had the mentality of Never give up. That's how I'm playing the field, never give up. You never know what's going to happen on a
play. You've got to go 110 percent whenever you can."
Unfortunately, while in high school, his grandmother passed away but McKinley made a promise and vows to fulfill it.
"That's what keeps me going every day," McKinley said. "Even for me to qualify out of high school, there were times I was going to quit but that promise I made to her is what kept me going… And that's what drives me every day to go hard."
So far, the pass rushing specialist has kept that promise and during his senior season, the Richmond, Calif., native earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors after a breakout season. His best game came against against Utah where he gathered six tackles (five for loss) and three sacks.
In today's pass-heavy league, a player who can disrupt the quarterback's rhythm on a consistent basis has become a hot commodity and teams see the potential in McKinley to become a game-changing pass rusher.
"I'm here to get the quarterback," McKinley said. "The league now is a passing league. They need young guys who can get to the quarterback and I feel I'm the best pass-rusher in this draft class to do that."
The 6-foot-2, 250 pounder's draft profile has him registered as a defensive end but the UCLA product has the athleticism to drop back in coverage as a linebacker if asked by his NFL coaching staff. His ability to play multiple positions has intrigued teams even though they don't know exactly what to label him as right now.
"Some teams got me as a 4-3 rush end, some teams got me as a 3-4 outside linebacker," McKinley said. "I tell them I can do both. UCLA didn't ask me to drop that much but I know I've got the athletic ability, the speed and the quickness to be able to drop in a 3-4 system. Wherever a team wants to play me, that's where I'll play."
His talent isn't an issue but a shoulder injury late in the season could keep him out until after training camp. The injury has been a point of discussion but McKinley thinks teams like what they see in him and his game regardless of the issue.
"The teams already know about the injury," he said. "Their biggest thing was if I had a plan. Now they know my plan, it probably shouldn't affect me at all."
As the draft nears, McKinley's promise to his grandmother is slowly becoming a reality and he knows she would be proud of all he has accomplished so far.
"She'd be proud of me," McKinley said. "She probably wouldn't say anything, she'd just have tears, and that's all I need right there."