It is mock draft season in the football world and the Indianapolis Colts hold the 15th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Over at ESPN, Mel Kiper Jr. has put out his first mock of the year and has the Colts addressing a pressing need in the first round.
The Colts have so many needs on their roster they can almost just pick the best player available in the upcoming draft. But some of the most important needs include a pass rusher (along with every other position on defense), especially after the retirement of Robert Mathis.
In his Mock Draft 1.0, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has the Colts addressing this need with the 15th pick. He has them taking UCLA outside linebacker Takkarist McKinley. Here’s what he said about the pick:
"A dominant speed rusher, McKinley gave Pac-12 offensive tackles nightmares in 2016. He took a big leap as a senior with 10 sacks, going from fringe prospect to first-rounder. At 6-2, 240 pounds, he’s not huge, but his explosion off the line is suited for today’s NFL. Indianapolis needs playmakers on defense, and McKinley is a great fit."
McKinley addresses a clear need for the Colts this season, and he has been moving up draft boards after this past season. Todd McShay, ESPN’s other draft expert, has McKinley as his top outside linebacker in the draft and the 19th best player in the raft. Here is what McShay said about McKinley:
"McKinley has been one of this season’s biggest draft risers. He parlayed his elite speed off the edge into 18.0 tackles for loss and 10.0 sacks in 11 games (both of which finished second in the Pac-12). To put that in perspective, McKinley had 11.0 total TFLs and 7.0 sacks in his first two seasons combined. He brings a ton of upside to the table."
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McKinley is described as a speed rusher, who split time between lining up in a three-point stance or standing up. Right now, he’s a third down specialist against the pass. His size means he’ll get pushed around on obvious run downs and needs to work on shedding blockers.
One scout compared Mckinley to DeMarcus Ware, saying that he was a freak athlete and perfect as a 3-4 outside linebacker. It will be interesting to see where he weighs in at the NFL Scouting Combine next month.
Not every scouting report is as high on McKinley. Pro Football Focus doesn’t have him listed on their top 32, but they are grading players on a different scale (more from production than potential).
As for fit with the Colts, McKinley fills a very clear need and would bring some much needed speed to the defense. WHile they need a pass rusher it would be helpful to get a player who is able to play all three downs on defense. Much will depend on McKinley’s offseason and if he can put on some weight while maintaining his speed.
The Colts desperately need to nail their defensive picks with this draft and get an infusion of talent on that side of the ball. There is a severe lack of playmakers on defense and at this point it hardly matters who is coaching as they’re bound to have issues stopping opponents in 2017.