How does New York Giants’ safety Xavier McKinney fit into Patrick Graham’s plans?

Alexander Wilson
New York Giants, Xavier McKinney, Jabrill Peppers
New York Giants, Xavier McKinney, Jabrill Peppers

Taking a look at how New York Giants DC Patrick Graham might look to utilize Xavier McKinney:

Before we dive into Xavier McKinney and what he’s capable of, let’s take a look at Patrick Graham and what he brings to the Giants. Graham is familiar with head coach Joe Judge, having spent time coaching for the Patriots between 2009-15. He served as a coaching assistant, defensive assistant, linebackers coach, and defensive line coach during his tenure. His familiarity with Judge will allow him to adapt to his style of coaching and already brings a basic understanding of the type of schemes he tends to rely on.

Graham also has experience with the Giants, featuring as the defensive line coach between the 2016-17 seasons. The Giants’ defense was the most improved in the league during 2016, and he was a major factor in helping their defensive front dominate across-the-board. They allowed just 17.8 points per game, which ranked as the second-best in the NFL. This was the best the Giants had performed in the category since 2002.

What type of defense is Graham bringing to the Giants?

Right off the bat, we can take a few things away from his 2019 season with the Miami Dolphins. Graham loves to blitz from the linebacker and safety positions, having blitzed on 35% of their snaps, ranking seventh-highest in the NFL. On third down, he blitzed 41% of the time, which was the third-highest rate in the league. He will utilize a 3-4 defense primarily, featuring two outside linebackers, a middle linebacker, and inside linebacker. However, he loves to utilize his safeties in various looks, which will incorporate Xavier McKinney and Jabrill peppers.

This is where McKinney enters the frame, as the Giants’ second-round pick out of Alabama in the 2020 NFL draft. Last year, McKinney tallied 95 total tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions, and four forced fumbles. He also logged three sacks, showing off his ability to rush the passer from the safety position. His elite game speed and ability to create turnovers will be a godsend for Graham and the Giants’ defense. His ability to drop deep into coverage and act as a ball hawk is another attribute McKinney brings to the table.

Overall, Xavier can play in a deep half safety role, climb up to the line of scrimmage, and cover tight ends in a strong safety position. I expect him and Jabrill peppers to rotate and keep defenses on their toes. Seeing how Graham utilizes the athletic duo will be extremely exciting.