The Giants selected Alabama safety Xavier McKinney out of Alabama in the second round.
McKinney is a good player who possesses high mental processing and thrived in the “Money” spot for Nick Saban’s defense. The safety is incredibly versatile, having played 286 snaps in the box, 227 snaps at slot corner, and 271 at free safety, along with 38 snaps on the EDGE, according to PFF.
Giants general manager Dave Gettleman loves a few different, yet important, aspects of specific prospects. For example, he loves experience, level of competition, and physicality. McKinney brings all that and then some.
He played in 41 games, starting 28 in the SEC while playing through injuries and showing a high level of competitive toughness and intelligence. And he does well seeing the field and executes his run fits well.
McKinney was a second-team All-American and first-team All-SEC. He led the Crimson Tide in tackles with 95, while recording 20 career passes defended and five interceptions.
McKinney is a strong tackler, who comes downhill, wraps up, and rolls through contact. His quick trigger coming downhill is one of his better traits as well.
He is solid against the run and solid against the pass, and there's not a lot to hate about his game.
I felt the Giants would go in the direction of a single high safety, like Cal’s Ashtyn Davis, or even LSU’s Grant Delpit, but I see why McKinney was the selection. He checks the boxes of the values that Gettleman prioritizes: Smart, Experienced, Tough.
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His versatility will allow defensive Patrick Graham to do a lot with three safety personnel packages. Julian Love and Jabrill Peppers, along with Xavier McKinney can be put in the box in 3-3-5, 2-4-5, and 1-4-6 (dime/3rd down) type defenses.
McKinney is also a very adept blitzer for a safety, which intrigues me with Patrick Graham.
The combine didn’t help McKinney’s case, but the Giants may have benefitted. He never had the chance to re-run his 4.63 40 yard dash, because his pro-day was canceled, due to COVID-19.
Despite that, McKinney was still the top safety drafted ahead of Jeremy Chinn and Kyle Dugger.
McKinney is an interchangeable safety that can be used creatively. I do wonder if this impacts the longevity of Peppers with the Giants, but there is undoubtedly a way all three safeties can co-exist on this defense.
McKinney may lack the top-end range in this draft, but he’s the best overall safety for a reason. He is good at so many things and doesn’t have any glaring liabilities in his game.
McKinney allows Graham to be so creative with different looks and coverages on the backend, and maybe Love will slide to the single-high look. He can execute a lot of roles, and the Giants added a smart, tough, and overall competent defender who has no glaring holes in his game.
This is another safe selection by the Giants’ brass, and that doesn’t mean it’s a bad pick. It’s hard to find things to hate about McKinney’s game. No, he may not have the elite range, but he’s a good, instinctive football player.
McKinney is the second player the Giants selected who played for a coaching staff--in this case nick Saban--with ties to head coach Joe Judge.