Takkarist McKinley has already made a positive impact since the Atlanta Falcons drafted him with their first round selection two years ago from UCLA.
The edge rusher was promoted to a more prominent position rushing the passer on the defensive line, but the player says he has a lot more to give his team going forward.
This year, he’s putting quite a bit of pressure on himself to get it done, taking to social media to give himself a serious ultimatum.
“If I don’t get double digit sacks next year I’m getting my dreads cut off,” McKinley tweeted.
So far in 31 total NFL contests, McKinley has recorded 13 sacks, 25 quarterback hits, and 14 tackles for loss, positive numbers, but the Falcons want to see more from the first round pick.
This past season, McKinley had seven sacks, and early on was tied with Khalil Mack near the top of the NFL rankings, but went a full month without recording a sack midseason.
More than anything, the Falcons would like to see more consistency from McKinley, to know whether or not he will justify a larger investment in the years ahead.
Atlanta struggled rushing the passer on a regular basis last season, ranking just 22nd in the NFL with 37 total sacks, and placing second worst in third down conversions allowed.
As a rookie, McKinley had just one less sack than fellow first year defensive end Myles Garrett, the Cleveland Browns’ No. 1 overall selection, despite Garrett playing 500 snaps as a starter compared to McKinley’s 381 as a backup and depth feature.
Needless to say, head coach Dan Quinn was impressed.
“We loved the speed. We loved the toughness,” Quinn said. “So for him not to have an offseason, all of a sudden come in and make an impact like he did and keep growing as it went, I think the guy has got a really big future. I love his toughness. That’s the style and identity. He’s another member of that group that has some of that run and hit factor that we really covet. There’s a number of guys that have that, and we’re certainly glad to have him as part of that.”
In his second year as a professional, McKinley had a few minor injuries, including a shoulder contusion, a groin ailment, and a cramping issue, but finished with 22 tackles and seven sacks.