The Bengals have instantly upgraded their pass rush with the addition of former Atlanta Falcons first-round pick, outside linebacker Takk McKinley.
The addition of 2017 Atlanta Falcons first-round pick, outside linebacker Takkarist McKinley, is an instant upgrade to the Bengals pass rush. McKinley will help replace Carlos Dunlap who the Bengals traded to Seattle last month. The Bengals signed McKinley after he was released by Atlanta yesterday.
McKinley who can play OLB and defensive end has eight tackles, seven quarterback hits, one tackle for loss and one sack this season. In four seasons, McKinley has 79 tackles, 45 QB hits, 22 TFLs and 17.5 sacks. McKinley was a star at UCLA but took until his third and final season in 2016 to become dominant.
As a junior in 2016 with the Bruins, McKinley had 61 tackles, 18 TFLs, 10 sacks and six pass breakups. His second season in the NFL was the best for McKinley with 22 tackles, 15 QB hits, seven tackles for loss and seven sacks. The Bengals are currently tied for 25th in the NFL with 11 sacks in eight games.
Defensive end Carl Lawson has been the Bengals only consistent pass rusher this season. Lawson leads the Bengals by a wide margin with 13 QB hits and 3.5 sacks as well as adding 19 tackles and two tackles for loss. Lawson is the only Bengal with more than one sack and four QB hits. The Bengals need McKinley to produce.
After playing 69 percent of the Falcons snaps in a 38-25 season-opening loss to Seattle, the playing time for McKinley was significantly reduced. McKinley received his highest snap count since the opener on October 25 with 37 percent in the Falcons loss to Detroit. The Bengals are expected to play McKinley at DE.
Lawson, Amani Bledsoe and Sam Hubbard have shared time starting at DE this season. Hubbard has 23 tackles, three QB hits, three sacks and one sack this season. Bledsoe has 10 tackles. There has been no indication if McKinley will be ready to play Sunday against Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is 12th in the NFL in passing attempts.