When Olivier Vernon was injured during the Week 17 game versus the Steelers, it became even more clear that the Cleveland Browns needed to sign another edge rusher this offseason. On Tuesday, the Browns signed ex-Falcons defensive lineman Takkarist McKinley in NFL Free Agency.
The Browns had interest in him at the trade deadline this past year, but they waited until the offseason to sign him. McKinley is a former first-round pick by the Falcons in the 2017 NFL Draft. According to Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports, the deal could be worth up to $4 million.
Browns Sign Takkarist McKinley | NFL Free Agency
Takkarist McKinley Stats
Age: 25 | Games Played: 49
Tackles: 79 | Tackles For Loss: 22
Sacks: 17.5 | QB Hits: 45
Low-Risk, High-Reward Signing
Throughout his NFL career, McKinley has been wildly inconsistent. The majority of his stats come from his first two years in the league. During those two years, he had 13 sacks, 42 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 25 QB-hits and played in 31 games.
McKinley has battled through some injuries during his time in the NFL. He’s had major injuries to his shoulder and groin. However, if he is healthy and plays like he did in his first two years in the league, this will end up being a great signing.
While at UCLA during his senior year, McKinley had 10 sacks, 18 tackles for loss and even batted down six passes. At the 2017 NFL Combine, he surprised everyone in attendance when he ran a 4.59 40-yard dash. McKinley is a pure speed rusher from the outside. He’s played some stand-up edge, and with his hand in the dirt. He has an incredibly explosive first-step. However, he needs to work on his technique and pursuit.
With that being said, his game is raw and fast, but if he can work on his technique and run-stopping, then he could become an impact player.
Grading the Takkarist McKinley Free Agent Signing
Overall, this is a very low risk, high reward pick-up by the Browns front office. His game is still raw, but he can be a rotation guy immediately. The Browns had major interest in Carl Lawson before he got signed by the Jets, so this is a bit of a downgrade. However, it is still a good signing.
McKinley is raw, but has more than enough talent. He will be 25 when the 2021 season kicks off, so he could be a major problem for AFC North offenses for years to come. However, that is only if he plays up to the level he did during his first two seasons in the league.