Selected with the 36th overall pick of this year’s NFL Draft, S Xavier McKinney has the potential to become a centerpiece in the NY Giants secondary moving forward.
When General Manager Dave Gettleman realized Xavier McKinney was still available in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, it was an easy pick for him and his team to make.
Regarded as arguably the best safety in this years talented draft pool, the former Crimson Tide star left Alabama for New York with high expectations before a foot injury landed him on the IR at the end of last August.
This news came as a major blow to the Giants plans to improve their defense. The safety out of Alabama was touted as an immediate NFL starter with Pro Bowl potential in addition to a player DC Patrick Graham could move in and out of the safety, nickel, and corner positions when drawing up his schemes.
The original timeline for his return had him pegged for a debut after Week 9. Now following the team’s Week 11 BYE, multiple reports have indicated McKinney’s debut in blue could happen on the road in Cincinnati.
His return will serve as a much needed reinforcement to the team’s secondary in addition to one that can take their success to the next level and contribute greatly to them winning the division title race they currently find themselves in.
Heading into Week 12, the Giants defense is holding opponents to 358.6 yards per game (17th in NFL) and 23.6 points per game (12th in NFL). These are promising numbers from a squad short of their elite second round draft pick.
During his time at Alabama, McKinney played in 41 games over the course of his three seasons playing under Nick Saban’s program. He also racked up a combined 175 tackles, 6.0 sacks, 5 interceptions, 15 passes defensed, and 6 forced fumbles according to sports reference college football.
The Giants starting secondary currently consists of CB James Bradberry, CB Isaac Yiadom, SS Jabrill Peppers, and FS Logan Ryan. Add McKinney into the mix and not only is the group strengthened, but it also becomes increasingly more competitive – an element Head Coach Joe Judge is always looking to infuse into his football program.
While it’s likely McKinney will have to gradually work his way into a starting role, his status as a dynamic defensive back with great range to cover the field will ensure his transition into a bona fide playmaker in the NFL. Conversely, his versatility in the field will allow him to drop back on snaps and play tight coverage to defend against deep passes.
Overall, his potential success in matching up well against opposing skill positions in addition to being used to rush the quarterback will no doubt catapult him to a first-string DB sooner rather than later.
But of all the hypotheticals surrounding his return, one thing is certain: Xavier McKinney’s return aims to put defense over the top, as this franchise continues to rebuild while angling themselves into the division title race.