The New York Giants and head coach Joe Judge held their first press conference of the season on Friday afternoon, sifting through a bevy of relevant topics. Ranging from COVID-19 protocol to players opting out, Judge hit on a variety of things that we will see the NFL deal in the coming months.
He was also asked about several players, including Aldrick Rosas and DeAndre Baker. Rosas, who was released by the team last week after reports of a drunk driving incident bubbled to the surface, is now a free agent. The Giants sign Chandler Catanzaro as a replacement, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they brought in another player to complete during training camp.
As for Baker, he was placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List, he will continue to be paid while the league and legal system figure out his situation.
However, Judge was also asked about some of the new faces on the roster and how they can contribute. One of the players mentioned was second-round pick Xavier McKinney out of Alabama.
What can Xavier McKinney bring to the New York Giants?
Judge mentioned how versatile McKinney is and how they will begin to utilize him moving forward. He will play in many different roles, especially in match-up based situations. Depending on what team they face that week, McKinney’s role will change and adapt. That is exactly how the Giant should intend to utilize the versatile safety.
McKinney has some of the best game speed at the position coming out of the 2020 NFL draft. In 2019, McKinney racked up 95 total tackles, 5.5 for a loss, 3.0 sacks, three interceptions, and four forced fumbles. His seven total turnovers are a reason for excitement. The a free safety position has underwhelmed in recent years for Big Blue. Last year, they featured Antoine Bethea as their primary player in the deep secondary, and he struggled to lock down deep passes. He was far better against the run, but getting a faster and younger safety to take over, should prove to be an upgrade.
McKinney’s strengths range from football IQ to his quick-twitch abilities. He’s not the most refined tackler, sometimes aiming a bit high. Head coach Judge expects to utilize live tackling drills in practice to iron out poor fundamentals hopefully. If McKinney can learn how to wrap up ball carrier’s legs and tackle more efficiently in the open field, his development in the NFL could be swift and exciting.