NY Jets should take a flier on former first-round pick Takkarist McKinley

NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports /

The NY Jets claim former first-round pick, pass-rusher Takkarist McKinley.

The NY Jets have been struggling to find a consistent pass-rush presence for over a decade at this point. And with that in mind, why not take a flier on a player like Takkarist McKinley?

McKinley, who was recently waived, was originally drafted by the Atlanta Falcons with the 26th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Atlanta hoped that they were landing a defensive difference-maker who could provide consistent pressure off the edge.

But judging by how his career has gone to this point, it’s safe to say that didn’t happen.

McKinley totaled six sacks in his rookie season and managed seven in 2018 once he was given increased playing time on defense. 13 sacks in your first two NFL seasons is nothing to scoff at, but a disappointing 2019 saw Falcons fans sour on him.

The former UCLA star finished with just 3.5 sacks despite starting a career-best 13 games. A shoulder injury ended his season prematurely and the Falcons decided to decline his fifth-year option in the offseason

That meant that the 2020 season would be the final on his rookie deal. So far this year, McKinley has played in just four games managing one sack while dealing with a nagging groin injury.

The reason for his departure has to do with more than just his on-field performance, however. McKinley took to Twitter earlier in the month to reveal that the Falcons had turned down all trade offers despite his request to be traded.

It was this Twitter outburst that saw the Falcons officially decide to cut ties with him. There’s no denying that McKinley was a disappointment in Atlanta, but there are reasons to believe he could find success elswhere.

The NY Jets could benefit from adding Takkarist McKinley

And considering how thin the Jets are at edge rusher, it would make sense to claim a guy like McKinley who offers plenty of upside.

For starters, McKinley’s 69.8 Pro Football Focus grade would rank better than any edge rusher currently on the roster. And this isn’t out of the oridnary for McKinley either — he’s consistently ranked pretty well with PFF.

In 2019, despite a career low in sacks, his 67.0 PFF grade was still good for around league average. And his pass-rush grade hasn’t ranked below 65.5 in a season until this year which, it should be noted, is based off a very limited sample size.

McKinley has actually been a pretty efficient pass-rusher throughout his career, but for one reason or another, it never worked out with the Falcons.

The Jets need someone with a bit more upside as a pass-rusher than the likes of Jordan Jenkins and Tarell Basham. McKinley is someone who, even if he never reaches his full potential, can serve as an effective rotational rusher for the team.

With the first pick on the waiver wire, the Jets have the ability to add him if they want to. If they’re interested, there’s no reason they shouldn’t place a claim just to see if they could turn his career around.

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The Jets need pass-rush help, and there’s a former first-round pick with plenty of untapped potential staring them in the face.