Takkarist McKinley goes 26th overall to Atlanta

Takkarist McKinley was drafted 26th overall by the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday. (Photo by Thomas R. Cordova, Press-Telegram/ Daily Breeze/SCNG)

Takkarist McKinley fulfilled his promise.

The former UCLA defensive end carried a framed photograph of his late grandmother Myrtle Collins with him on stage at the NFL Draft in Philadelphia on Thursday night after the Atlanta Falcons traded up to take him 26th overall.

McKinley, known for the undying motor and electric energy that led him to a team-high 18 tackles for loss and 10 sacks last year, couldn’t contain his emotions moments after hearing his name called.

“This is who I’m doing it for,” McKinley exclaimed on NFL Network while holding the photo of Collins, who passed away in 2011. “I made a promise to her and I stuck to it. I told her before she passed away that I was going to live my dream. I was going to go D-I, I was going to get out of Richmond, I was going to get out of Oakland, I was going to go to the NFL. Thirty seconds later, she passed away.

“This means (expletive) everything,” he continued on the live broadcast. Realizing his mistake, McKinley added “fine me later.”

With a deep breath, still clutching the photo of Collins, McKinley collected his emotions and finished: “We did it. I love you, Grandma. It’s only the beginning.”

McKinley is UCLA’s fourth first-round draft pick in the past five years.

More on McKinley’s big night

His teammates and coaches at UCLA posted their congratulations on Twitter:

Continue reading “Takkarist McKinley goes 26th overall to Atlanta” »

Football links: Former UCLA Bruins await NFL Draft fate

Several former UCLA players are hoping to hear their names called at the NFL Draft this weekend, including, clockwise from top left: Takkarist McKinley, Fabian Moreau, Jayon Brown, Eddie Vanderdoes and Conor McDermott. (Photos by Thomas R. Cordova/SCNG; Jae C. Hong/AP; Sam Craft/AP; Ronald Martinez/Getty Images; John McCoy/SCNG)

UCLA has another chance at a first-round draft pick and the Bruins are hoping that it will end better this year than last.

Defensive end Takkarist McKinley will be in the green room Thursday for the first round of the NFL Draft in Philadelphia, which starts at 5 p.m. PT and is televised on ESPN and NFL Network. McKinley will be joined by UCLA head coach Jim Mora and defensive line coach Angus McClure as he awaits his NFL fate.

Mora said seeing the culmination of McKinley’s dream is “going to be awesome,” but he also recognized the unpredictability of the NFL Draft. Only a year ago, the coach was with former UCLA linebacker Myles Jack when Jack slipped all the way to the second round after being projected as a sure-fire first-rounder.

“The draft though, it’s a beast,” Mora said. “You don’t have any idea. It’s a crap shoot, you don’t have any idea where you’re going to get picked. Hopefully it works out for Takk.”

McKinley is not the only hopeful Bruin this weekend. Cornerback Fabian Moreau is expected to be a high second-day pick, likely going in the second round. Defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes, offensive lineman Conor McDermott and linebacker Jayon Brown are likely third-day guys.

The second day of the draft (the second and third rounds) starts at 4 p.m. PT on Friday and the event wraps up Saturday with the fourth through seventh rounds, starting at 9 a.m. PT.

Here are links to prepare for the NFL Draft: Continue reading “Football links: Former UCLA Bruins await NFL Draft fate” »

UCLA at the NFL combine

UCLA has five players participating in this week’s NFL combine, which starts Tuesday and ends March 6. Linebacker Jayon Brown, defensive linemen Eddie Vanderdoes and Takkarist McKinley, offensive lineman Conor McDermott and defensive back Fabian Moreau will go through the biggest job interviews of their football careers so far in Indianapolis.

The group of former Bruins, along with more than 300 other prospects, will go through formal interviews with teams as well as on-field workouts prior to April’s NFL draft.

Combine links:

You can watch their workouts on NFL Network on the following days, starting at 9 a.m. ET each day:

  • March 3: McDermott
  • March 5: Brown, Vanderdoes, McKinley
  • March 6: Moreau

Five Bruins invited to NFL Combine

Eddie Vanderdoes (47) talks with Kenny Young (42) at practice. Photo by Steve McCrank/Daily Breeze

Five former UCLA football players received invites to his month’s NFL Combine, the NFL announced Wednesday: linebacker Jayon Brown, offensive lineman Conor McDermott, defensive end Takkarist McKinley, defensive back Fabian Moreau and defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes.

The combine begins Feb. 28 in Indianapolis with 330 total participants.

McKinley is a potential late first-round draft pick by many mock drafts after he led the Bruins in sacks and tackles for loss last year.

Vanderdoes was the only player to declare for the NFL draft early this season after the redshirt junior came back from an ACL injury and started 12 games with 29 tackles against constant double teams. Going into the Senior Bowl, Vanderdoes told Sports Illustrated that he had lost 20 pounds since the end of the UCLA season when he played at 340 pounds.

An impressive showing at the East-West Shrine Game helped Moreau boost his draft stock as NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said he was “not going to be shocked if Moreau goes in the first round.” He was the No. 47 prospect in Jeremiah’s top-50 list last week.

UCLA football links: Latest mock drafts

Defensive end Takkarist McKinley celebrates UCLA’s 38-20 win over USC on Saturday night. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

With the end of the NFL season officially over, teams are turning their attention to April’s NFL draft.

Defensive end Takkarist McKinley is the most popular first-round pick for the Bruins as he’s projected as a late first-rounder by CBS Sports (No. 30 to the Steelers), Sports Illustrated (No. 29, Packers) and NFL.com (No. 31, Falcons). ESPN’s Todd McShay has McKinley at No. 23 to the Giants, while Rotoworld has the defensive end slotted at No. 16 to the Ravens.

In Sports Illustrated’s three-round mock draft, McKinley is the only UCLA prospect listed, however, cornerback Fabian Moreau gets the Cowboys’ draft pick at No. 60 in Walter Football mock draft with Conor McDermott going at No. 105 overall to the Bengals.

Moreau drew rave reviews after the Shrine Game last month and that helped boost his stock. He jumped into NFL.com’s list of top 50 prospects, checking in at No. 47, following McKinley at No. 23.