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NFL Mock Draft 2017: Mel Kiper has Colts taking Takkarist McKinley in his first mock draft

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NCAA Football: UCLA at Arizona State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mock draft season is underway, meaning that for the next couple of months we’ll be seeing plenty of names thrown around in connection to each NFL team. And here’s a helpful tip: expect to see a lot of pass rushers projected to the Colts.

That’s what ESPN’s Mel Kiper has in his first mock draft of the year, as he projects the Colts taking UCLA linebacker Takkarist McKinley in the first round with the 15th pick:

A dominant speed rusher, McKinley gave Pac-12 offensive tackles nightmares in 2016. He took a big leap as a senior with 10 sacks, going from fringe prospect to first-rounder. At 6-2, 240 pounds, he's not huge, but his explosion off the line is suited for today's NFL. Indianapolis needs playmakers on defense, and McKinley is a great fit.

McKinley started his collegiate career at Contra Costa College, where in one season he recorded 33 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, and ten sacks. He then transferred to UCLA, where he spent his final three years. He played in 34 games, recording 102 tackles, 29 tackles for loss, 17 sacks. He had a breakout senior season, recording ten sacks and 18 tackles for loss while he also racked up 61 tackles, six passes defensed, three forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery in eleven games played.

As Kiper noted, the biggest thing the Colts need is defensive playmakers. They’ve got a number of players on the defense who can be solid role players, but they really don’t have those playmakers they desperately need. So that will be a priority this offseason, and adding a dynamic pass rusher could perhaps be the single biggest move the Colts could make to improve their defense.