According to ESPN NFL Draft Analyst Mel Kiper Jr., the Indianapolis Colts are projected to select UCLA pass rusher Takkarist McKinley with the 15th overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft:
"15. Indianapolis Colts, 8-8Takkarist McKinley, DE/OLB, UCLADwight Freeney is long gone, but now so, too, is Robert Mathis and his 123.5 career sacks. There is no question the Colts need to continue to work on the offensive line, but there simply isn’t appropriate value at tackle at this spot in the draft. They also really need a pass-rusher, and McKinley is explosive off the edge."
The 6’2″, 265 pound pass rusher recorded 61 tackles, 18.0 tackles for loss, 10.0 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles in 11 games for the Bruins during his senior season.
As a result of his exceptional play, McKinley was named a 1st-Team All-Pac-12 selection in 2016.
Obviously, with the Colts all-time career sack leader Robert Mathis recently retiring, as well as last season’s sack leader, Erik Walden, set to become a free agent, the Colts could clearly use an impact pass rusher coming off the edge.
"NFL COMPARISONTamba Hali"
"BOTTOM LINEAscending edge prospect who racked up impressive TFL and sack numbers this year despite a relatively raw approach and skill set. He’s a little stiff in his lower body, but flashes good athleticism once the ball is snapped. McKinley’s motor is a translatable characteristic, but improved hand usage and pass rush mechanics are what could elevate his game to another level as a starting, 3-4 outside linebacker."
McKinley has also received rave reviews from other draft experts:
The bottom line is that the Colts have to come away with at least two impact pass rushers from either this year’s NFL Draft or through free agency, as the defense can’t solely rely on one player to get it done.
Unfortunately, pass rushers are always held at a premium, so the Colts will either have to draft pass rusher(s) early in this year’s NFL Draft–presumably within the first two rounds or the team will be forced to spend big in free agency on a proven pass rusher.
From that perspective, McKinley makes a whole lot of sense in the first round for the Colts.