The Bengals, who talked about selecting UCLA pass rusher Takk McKinley in the 2017 draft, ended up with him three years later Wednesday when they claimed him off waivers from the Falcons.
With one swift move the Bengals suddenly added a former first-rounder with two post-season sacks who turned just 25 last week in an effort to bolster a pass rush that has three sacks in the last four games. The 6-2, 265-pound McKinley brings 17.5 sacks in 49 games, making him the Bengals' second most prolific edge sacker behind Carl Lawson's 18 sacks.
The claim came two weeks after the Bengals traded Carlos Dunlap, their long-time edge sack leader, to the Seahawks because of a lack of a fit in the Bengals emerging defensive scheme. McKinley, released by the Falcons Monday, missed the last game with a groin issue.
The Bengals have a thorough scouting report on McKinley because, in part, Steven Radecivic, their director of pro scouting, has deep ties to UCLA as a former head of the Bruins' football operations and they're delighted they've got him despite losing their top claiming spot earlier this season.
They like McKinley's high motor and talented blend of speed and power that gives him a unique ability to change up between speed and bull rushes. His playing time dwindled after he had his lone sack of the season in the opener during 69 percent of the snaps and he had last week's injury.
But after the Falcons played him in a variety of spots, it's believed the Bengals are anxious to see what McKinley can do, first, off the edge. And it's not the first time they've thought highly of him.
When the Bengals held the ninth pick in the 2017 draft and talked trade-down scenarios or second-round options, McKinley was a guy in the discussion before the Falcons took him off the board at No. 26. He followed up his six rookie sacks with a career-high seven in 2018.
McKinley won't be able to play in Pittsburgh this Sunday (4:25 p.m.-Cincinnati's Fox 19) because of Covid-19 protocols and the Bengals made a few moves on that front Wednesday.
They added practice squad cornerbacks Brian Allen and Winston Rose to the Covid list as well as taking starting slot cornerback Mackensie Alexander off the list. All the defensive backs but Allen, Rose, Alexander (illness) and Darius Phillips (groin) practiced Wednesday.
Back-up linebacker Jordan Evans was also taken off the list, which also still has tackle Fred Johnson, defensive tackle Margus Hunt and injured cornerback Trae Waynes.