Fans don't need advanced metrics to know that Takkarist McKinley showed great improvement throughout his rookie season with the Falcons, but they can help drive that point home. And in the case of McKinley, they can be used to project even greater production in the future.
Using a metric called pass-rush productivity, which PFF defines as "a metric that measures the pressure created on a per-snap basis, with weighting toward sacks," the site can identify players who make the most of their opportunity to rush the passer. In this particular metric, McKinley was among the standouts.
McKinley was seventh in pass-rush productivity among qualified 4-3 defensive ends with fewer than 10 sacks, and he was the second-highest rookie on the list behind Myles Garrett, who was taken with the first overall pick in last year's draft.
"There was plenty of hype around McKinley entering his first year as a pro," writes PFF's Ross Miles. "Some impressive college stats (29 TFL with 17 sacks and five forced fumbles in two years at UCLA) were followed by a strong showing at the NFL combine before the Falcons traded up on draft day and selected him 26th overall. Unfortunately for McKinley he needed shoulder surgery in the offseason before his debut campaign, although it didn't cost him any significant time as he saw snaps in all of Atlanta's games last year. That's not to say McKinley wasn't on a limited snap count and used in rotation, because he only played two games in which he saw the field for more than 50 percent of snaps, and only played 464 snaps (39.3 percent) all year including the playoffs."
In his first year with the Falcons, McKinley registered six sacks and came one sack shy of tying the team's rookie record. McKinley's strong performance continued into the postseason, where he recorded a sack in each playoff game.