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Beasley Ready to Pass Lessons on to McKinley

Two years ago, Vic Beasley was in the same position as Takk McKinley.

A first-round draft pick brought to Atlanta with one primary job: Rush the passer.

But where their situations differ from one another is that when Beasley came to Atlanta he was without a mentor.

That changed in his second year when the Falcons signed seven-time Pro Bowler, Dwight Freeney.

Freeney immediately took Beasley under his wing and helped the 24-year-old learn how to master his craft – in all ways.

Coming out of Clemson, Beasley had all of requisite skills needed to be a successful pass rusher in the NFL. What he didn't have yet, was the understanding of how to put it all together, and Freeney showed him how to harness it all.

"Vic is a guy who has lot of the same traits I had when I was coming out of college," Freeney said of what he taught Beasley. "I was fast, quick and agile. But the thing is -- when you're young, you don't know much. You just run around and make plays because you're athletic. My thing with Vic was just to try to raise his IQ a little bit, his awareness, when you use different moves, when you don't use certain moves, (that) when you see certain protections, this is what this means so you can do different things."

And Freeney's mentorship certainly paid off.

Beasley went from notching four sacks in his rookie campaign to finishing the 2016 season as the NFL sack leader, recording 15.5 sacks.

After seeing the impact Freeney was able to make on his game, Beasley is now ready to take on that role for his new teammate, McKinley.

"My main focus is to be a mentor for him. To lead by example," Beasley said of McKinley. "Hopefully he can follow in my footsteps and see me as a mentor and then become a better player by watching me."

Through the entire draft process, the Falcons had high regard for McKinley, so much so they traded up five spots to draft the young pass rusher out of UCLA.

A move that has Beasley excited.

"I'm very excited about Takk coming in here," Beasley said. "I think he's a great addition to our organization and our defense as a whole. I'm excited to get to work with him."

Although they have different skill sets, McKinley and Beasley share many similarities – their athleticism, strength and desire to get to the quarterback, to name a few.

With Beasley's guidance, McKinley will be able to maneuver his way through his first year in the league learning from one of the best in the game.

Things do come full circle, they say.

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