The Dallas Cowboys could cut a former first-round draft pick.
As predicted by Randy Gurzi of FanSided’s The Landry Hat, edge rusher Takkarist McKinley won’t make the Cowboys’ 53-man roster entering the 2023 season. The former No. 26 overall draft pick latched on with the Cowboys’ practice squad following his release from the Los Angeles Rams during the 2022 season. Although McKinley signed with the Cowboys, he didn’t appear in a single game for Dallas during the 2022 season. Despite that, Dallas re-signed him to a one-year deal.
Gurzi argues the Cowboys’ bloated depth and Dante Fowler re-signing as reasons for why McKinley won’t stick around Dallas’ active roster this season.
“McKinley found his way back to Dan Quinn as he joined the Dallas practice squad to close out the year and was brought back for the 2023 campaign,” said Gurzi. “However, any chance he had to make it into the rotation this season essentially went out the window when Dante Fowler, Jr. re-signed on a one-year deal. With Fowler back, this is once again a strength for America’s Team with DeMarcus Lawrence, Dorance Armstrong, Chauncey Goltson, and Sam Williams joining Fowler. If that wasn’t enough, Micah Parsons also moves to the EDGE often, making it nearly impossible for McKinley to stick around.”
Takkarist McKinley Has Disappointed as First-Round Pick
Despite being a former first-round draft pick, McKinley hasn’t come close to matching his draft billing. After amassing a respectable total of 13 sacks during his first two seasons with the Atlanta Falcons — in just eight starts — he has put up just seven sacks combined over the past four seasons.
In fact, McKinley hasn’t appeared in more than 11 games in a single season since 2019.
According to Pro Football Focus, McKinley has been mostly an average to slightly above average edge rusher since entering the league. During the 2021 season with the Cleveland Browns — his most recent season with substantial playing time — McKinley posted an average 58.4 defensive grade. However, he did post a solid 67.0 defensive grade during the 2019 season with the Falcons, resulting in a career-high 29 tackles and seven tackles for loss.
His familiarity with defensive coordinator Dan Quinn — he played four seasons under Quinn when he was the Falcons’ head coach — could help him stick around, but there are literally four or five defensive ends ahead of him on the depth chart. The more likely scenario could see McKinley stick around on the practice squad after being cut prior to the 53-man roster being decided.
Through six NFL seasons, McKinley holds career totals of 98 tackles, 53 quarterback hits and 20 sacks in 64 games and 27 starts.
Cowboys Predicted to Draft Dalton Schultz’s Replacement
The Cowboys could look for Dalton Schultz’s replacement in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.
After the former Cowboys starting tight end signed with the Houston Texans, Dallas has a void to fill at the position. According to a prediction from The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman, he expects the Cowboys to select University of Georgia tight end Darnell Washington with the No. 26 overall draft pick.
“This is a Texas-sized tight end at 6 feet 7, 264 with 34 3/8-inch arms and 11-inch hands,” said Feldman. “But it’s how well he moves that makes him so hard for the Cowboys to pass up. To run a 4.64 40 at that size and a 4.08 20-yard shuttle time is rare. A 10-2 broad jump also underscores that unique athleticism. The crazy part was his leaping, twisting, one-handed grab along the sidelines at the combine during routes on air might’ve been the most impressive thing he did there.”
The massive tight end didn’t produce much at Georgia, but that was largely due to the fact that he was playing alongside Brock Bowers, who nearly posted 1,000 yards last season.
Washington’s athleticism and size makes him a superb blocker and an easy red zone target — traits that Dallas are desperately looking for following Schultz’s departure.