The Falcons traded up with the Seattle Seahawks to make the selection.
McKinley's passionate speech included a touching shoutout to his grandmother—and an F bomb as he became overwhelmed with emotion:
McKinley is an edge-rusher with the versatility to play either defensive end or linebacker in the NFL, as long as his primary role is to attack the quarterback.
"The league now is a passing league," he explained at the combine, per Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com. "They need young guys who can get to the quarterback and I feel I'm the best pass-rusher in this draft class to do that."
The UCLA player was a breakout star during his senior season, causing mayhem all over the Pac-12. After totaling just six career sacks coming into the year, McKinley stepped up with 10 sacks in 2016. This earned him a first-team all-conference selection in an otherwise injury-riddled year for the Bruins.
In addition to excelling on the pass rush, he also finished with 61 tackles, including a team-high 18 for a loss.
McKinley has good size at 6'2", 250 pounds, with impressive athleticism, running a 40-yard dash in 4.59 seconds at the combine. His speed and strength with long arms gives him all the physical tools you want in a front seven star.
On the other hand, he remains relatively raw with only one successful season under his belt. He also underwent shoulder surgery in March that could limit his offseason program. There is certainly risk in this selection, despite the obvious upside.
Still, the Falcons expect McKinley to make an immediate impact on the defense while potentially developing into a star within the next few years.
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