Alabama football fans held their breath after the season to see if Xavier McKinney would announce his return for his Senior season. Xavier made the right decision though to enter the NFL Draft and finds himself as a member of the New York Giants.
Xavier McKinney was the heart and soul of Alabama’s defense in 2019. He was the second leading tackler on an Alabama football roster that struggled to stop the run, but his play in the secondary helped improve a pass defense that was lackluster in 2018.
McKinney is the whole package at Safety. He possesses excellent coverage skills, playmaking ability, and is a hard-nosed tackler to boot. Alabama football fans will remember the missed tackle he had against Auburn, but aside from that play you can’t find many more missed tackles in his career.
This draft had two top-tier Safeties who are arguably interchangeable at one and two. Grant Delpit out of LSU has a legitimate case for being the best Safety in this class, but you honestly could not go wrong with either one.
Ultimately McKinney ended up as the first Safety off the board and will greatly improve the Giants defense immediately. He doesn’t have to worry about scheme as his versatility makes him a plug and play option in any system. McKinney is physical enough to drop down from safety to be a hybrid linebacker against certain offensive sets.
Xavier recorded substantial snaps at Safety, CB, OLB, and even ILB during his final season at Alabama. That type of player isn’t found often and he is garnering comparisons to another versatile former Alabama football DB, Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick, who is now with the Pittsburgh Steelers after being drafted by the Dolphins, made an immediate impact on his new team this season. McKinney has the ability to do that for the New York Giants.
What the Giants are getting is a player with high football IQ. McKinney has the mental skills to not just start as a rookie, but also be a team leader. The young man stands to have a long NFL career. Going early in the second round to the Giants worked out well for Landon Collins.