A match-up against a NFL heavy-weight has become a little easier for the Lions. Falcons’ elite pass-rusher Vic Beasley is out for the game with a hamstring injury, but his absence will bring about a more prominent role for their first round pick in the 2017 draft.
Takkarist McKinley had one of the best entrances to the NFL that I’ve ever seen, and Sunday at Ford Field is his first major opportunity to turn those words into on-field production.
At 6’2″ 250, McKinley is a powerful rusher. What he lacks in quick-twitch athleticism he more than makes up for with his high motor and strength. He was a guy I really liked in the pre-draft process, and definitely was on the table for the Lions when they selected at #21. McKinley has yet to get a sack, but he did pop Aaron Rodgers a few times last Sunday Night.
McKinley, like Beasley, will not rush from only one side. He will be both Rick Wagner and Greg Robinson’s problem to share, but something tells me they’ll put him over Robinson more of the time. Robinson struggled immensely against Olivier Vernon who shares McKinley’s measurables and is the same style of rusher.
No, I’m not saying McKinley is or even ever will be Vernon, but I think we may see some of the same issues from Robinson again this Sunday. We have seen a few flashes of Robinson’s athleticism, but his strength at the point of attack and going backwards in pass-pro show why he has busted so badly in the NFL. Ron Prince is one of the best o-line coaches in the league, but I can’t expect him to fix all of Robinson’s issues in one week.
Beasley out will also mean larger roles for Brooks Reed and Adrian Clayborn. Both those guys are experienced NFL players who have sacks this season. If McKinley struggles, they can still roll with two d-ends who know how to get it done in the NFL.
The Falcons also feature one of the better interior line guys in the league with Grady Jarrett who could’ve been the Super Bowl MVP. Yes, Vic being out is huge, but don’t think that the Lions are out of the woods yet. We all continue to wait for the return of #68.