With the 36th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft the New York Giants selected Alabama safety, Xavier McKinney. Regarded as the best safety in the draft McKinney comes to New York at excellent value. Dave Gettleman and the front office have done a great job adding both athleticism and football I.Q to positions of need on both offense and defense in the front end of the draft so far. Let’s take a closer look at who McKinney is and as a football player and what he brings to Big Blue.
Career In Tuscaloosa
The Roswell, Georgia, native was a top-50 overall prospect nationally after earning state Class 7A Defensive Player of the Year honors from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution his senior season in high school. That season McKinney marked 82 tackles, seven interceptions, and nine pass breakups.
Once at Alabama, as a true freshman, McKinney made his presence known on special teams in 13 games. He progressed into his sophomore season making 15 starts after winning the a starting role in fall camp. McKinney posted 73 tackles, 3 sacks, two interceptions and 10 pass breakups. McKinney was named the Defensive MVP of the Orange Bowl, with five tackles and four pass breakups against Oklahoma to send Alabama to the national title game.
Read the full prospect breakdown on Xavier McKinney: here!
On top of the statistical impact, this past season on tape McKinney displayed tons of tools that you look for in a modern safety. Traits like size (6’0 201), power, and speed allow for aggressive play-making in the first and second levels. The agility and fluidity in his feet and hips allow for range in the half-field and good ball separation in zone coverage.
Fitting in Blue
‘Versatility’ comes as a hot word in NFL circles these days, especially around draft time. However, it’s what McKinney offers the giants. He clearly is present in the box with pass-rushing and tackling as a safety but will also serve as a nickel-backer, or fifth defensive back in third down passing situations.
Xavier McKinney was mocked heavily to the Miami Dolphins due to his fit in Brian Flores’ defense. It derives from Patriots schemes with tons of movement and rotation. Newly minted Giants’ defensive coordinator Patrick Graham spent 2019 in Miami in the same position.
60% of the Dolphins blitzes came when they played Cover 1 base. This marked for second highest rate in the league, according to Giants.com. They also played press man 481 times last year, which was the fifth highest number in the league. Graham likely will transfer this philosophy up north and that’s good news for McKinney. His frame will let him cover in the slot as well as get occasional snaps at Sam linebacker. McKinney will offer an impact in blitz packages as well as man and zone coverage. The versatility is outstanding, he’s very well-rounded with high upside and the play-making is very exciting to see.
What do you think of the selection? Where do the Giants go in rounds 3-7?