New York Giants safety Xavier McKinney’s rookie season didn’t exactly go according to how he or the team envisioned it going, thanks to McKinney’s suffering of a broken leg in training camp that cost him 11 games.
Thankfully, the rookie made it back toward the end of his rookie season. Although the pro game was a little too fast for him at times, the speed at which he kept up and began to excel in what was asked of him has earned the former Alabama defensive back a nod from CBS Sports’ Josh Edwards as one of ten rookies from last season who are Ready to Soar in Year 2.
Notes Edwards of McKinney’s inclusion on the list:
McKinney was my top-rated safety in last year's draft, so I am bullish, perhaps stubborn, in regard to his potential. The former Alabama defensive back missed 11 games but ended the season on a high note with an interception against Dallas. One would think upgrading the pass rush is a priority for the Giants this offseason, and that only means more turnover opportunities for McKinney.
According to Pro Football Focus, McKinney played 211 defensive snaps for the Giants, 70 against the run, 132 in coverage, and nine as a pass rusher. He recorded two pressures and had three stops for zero or negative yards.
In coverage, he was targeted ten times, allowing seven receptions averaging just 6.7 yards per catch, and had one interception (he should have had at least another, but it was wiped out due to penalty) on his way to a 40.4 NFL Rating.
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McKinney also gave the Giants 56 snaps in the slot, a role he’s likely to take up more in 2021, given his skill set. He has the range and quickness to take away the deep balls, and he has a sudden quick burst that can give him a competitive advantage as a blitzer.
McKinney not only can stay stride-for-stride with some of the faster receivers, but he also has the functional strength to bring down the bigger receivers who otherwise might be successful in breaking tackles, thus limiting their yards after the catch.
In short, it's hard to argue with McKinney as the choice for the Giants even though he has a small sample size because of his injury. McKinney, Logan Ryan, and Jabrill Peppers give the team their best trio at safety since the days of Antrel Rolle, Kenny Phillips, and Deon Grant.
More importantly, their various skills undoubtedly have defensive coordinator Patrick Graham drooling over the countless personnel wrinkles he can throw into his forthcoming game plans to get the upper hand.
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