Eagles draft targets at No. 14: UCLA DE Takkarist McKinley

Eagles draft targets at No. 14: UCLA DE Takkarist McKinley

Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA

Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 250 pounds

2016: 61 TKL, 18.0 TFL, 10.0 SK, 3 FF
2015: 35 TKL, 7.5 TFL, 3.5 SK, 2 FF
2014: 3 TKL, 2.5 TFL, 2.5 SK, 1 FF

40-yard dash: 4.59 seconds
Bench press: 24 reps
Vertical jump: 33.0 inches
Broad jump: 122.0 inches
3-cone drill: 7.48 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.62 seconds

When you look at the list of defensive ends who have made the Pro Bowl under Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, the group generally has one thing in common: speed. So with that in mind, if any pass rusher in the 2017 NFL Draft makes sense for the Eagles at No. 14, it might Takkarist McKinley.

McKinley's name is rising up rankings sheets as the draft approaches, which is probably less a sign of his stock going up than it is analysts catching up to scout' evaluations. Truth be told, it's surprising it took as long as it did given the way the UCLA product ran at the combine.

Only one prospect who projects as a potential 4-3 end timed faster in the 40 than McKinley, and nothing against Kansas State's Jordan Willis, he isn't going in the first round, much less the top 15. With a sub-4.6 and a productive senior year to hang his hat on, McKinley certainly may sneak up that high.

A first-team All-Pac-12 selection, McKinley was one of the most disruptive players in the nation in 2016. The two-year starter finished the season ranked 10th in tackles for loss per game, 11th in sacks per game and 22nd in forced fumbles per game. When he was on the field, McKinley was getting to the quarterback and making plays in the backfield.

This is exactly what Schwartz’s scheme -- and defense in the NFL, for that matter -- is predicated upon. Except, in the wide-nine front the Eagles operate out of, speed off the edge can be a critical factor in getting to the quarterback.

Somebody like Tennessee's Derek Barnett impressively broke Reggie White's school record for sacks and may be considered a more polished player right out of school. He's also more than a quarter-second slower than McKinley in terms of running in a straight line, which can make a world of difference when lined up far wide of the tackle box.

What sets Barnett apart from somebody like McKinley now is technique. The Bruins pass rusher simply doesn't have many moves apart from racing past his man, which when that doesn't happen, he tends to get stymied at the line of scrimmage. McKinley will need to add muscle and learn how to use his hands and find new ways to beat the protection.

Of course, he's only 21, and while he can hone his craft in the NFL, somebody like Barnett isn't suddenly going to become a lot faster. If speed is the name of the game off the edge, and the Eagles are willing to work with a raw prospect for a year, McKinley may have more upside in Schwartz's scheme.

That's a lot to project at No. 14 overall, which is why many mocks and rankings still push McKinley out of the top 20. That being said, of all the defensive linemen we've looked at for the Eagles, this might be the best fit. If the team winds up trading down from their current spot, McKinley quickly becomes an intriguing option a little later.

 

Other Eagles draft targets at No. 14:
Tennessee DE Derek Barnett
Michigan DE Taco Charlton
Ohio State CB Gareon Conley
Florida State RB Dalvin Cook
Western Michigan WR Corey Davis
Alabama LB Reuben Foster
LSU RB Leonard Fournette
Alabama TE O.J. Howard
Alabama CB Marlon Humphrey
Washington CB Kevin King
Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey
Michigan State DT Malik McDowell
UCLA DE Takkarist McKinley
Wisconsin OT Ryan Ramczyk
Washington WR John Ross
LSU CB Tre'Davious White
Clemson WR Mike Williams

Even on honeymoon, Jon Dorenbos performs wild magic trick with coin

Even on honeymoon, Jon Dorenbos performs wild magic trick with coin

Magic never stops.

Not even on Jon Dorenbos' honeymoon.

The Eagles' long snapper and magic enthusiast is enjoying picturesque Bora Bora with his wife Annalise.

Still, fresh off his wedding and surrounded by water way too blue, Dorenbos wasn't about to stop entertaining us as he posted this crazy coin trick on his Instagram account.

Bora Bora Magic - I love this move. @apollorobbins showed me this 15 years ago. #honeymoon

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Pretty darn cool — and, seriously, how does he do it?

And don't worry, Dorenbos is clearly having a great time on the honeymoon, not just blowing our minds with cool magic.

Amazing. #honeymoon #paradise

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How Jim Thome got his batting stance thanks to Charlie Manuel and 'The Natural'

How Jim Thome got his batting stance thanks to Charlie Manuel and 'The Natural'

If there's anyone in the world I could sit next to for hours and listen to talk about baseball it would be former Phillies manager and World Champion of baseball Charlie Manuel.

Charlie is still very involved in the Phillies organization to this day and we're lucky enough to have 45 minutes of his time talking ball with longtime Phillies scribe Jim Salisbury.

Those two know the Phillies just about as well as anybody, so there's plenty of meat on the bone to chew on. The duo chatted for a recent episode of Sully's "At The Yard" podcast.

The story that caught my ear the most was Charlie's telling of how Jim Thome came to have that somewhat-goofy stance before he hits. It was a timing mechanism that Manuel stumbled upon in the strangest of ways.

This was when both Charlie and Jim were working for a Cleveland Indians' affiliate in the minors. 

"We were playing in Scranton and it was a Phillies triple-A team at the time. I kept thinking of a timing mechanism of some kind, a waggle or something, what Thome could do with his bat where he wouldn't tense up, where it would help him to relax and everything."

"I came into our locker room early," Manuel said. "I didn't let my players turn the TV on after a certain time. I came through the clubhouse that day, they had 'The Natural' on. I told 'em to turn it off. Some of the players said, 'Hey, Charlie, we're watching The Natural can we watch the end of The Natural? I said, 'Not really, what's the rule?'

"I saw Robert Redford standing there pointing the bat with one hand, bringing it back. I looked over at Thome, I said, 'you can finish watching the movie. From now on that's going to be your load.' I took him down in the cage and worked with him. The game started and the Phillies had a left-handed pitcher named [Kyle] Abbott. He was pitching that day. I told Jimmy, 'From now on that's your stance.' He gets up there the first time up, Abbott throws him a breaking ball away and he hit a home run to left center... I mean a longways. He come up the next time he hit another one to right center. I think he had three hits that day."

"That's a true story," Manuel added.

It sounds to good to be true. So we did a little research and Thome has told the same tale on a television special out in Chicago last summer.

"We were in Scranton and I was a guy who held the bat still and would go from a standstill and swing," Thome explained. "(Charlie) was watching The Natural and he saw that (Hobbs) kind of had this little wiggle to his stance, and I remember the day. We went out the next day, we worked early and he said 'Do me a favor and try holding the bat out there (pointing towards the pitcher) and get a little rhythm with your swing.' And from that day I never looked back. The following day we played a doubleheader and I hit two home runs."

You can listen to the whole podcast with Jim Salisbury and Charlie Manuel right here.