The New York Giants are going to make use of a pass-rush by a committee in 2020. The team does not possess an elite edge rusher or game-breaking pass-rusher to make a consistent impact. Rather, New York has some solid rotational rushers and an aggressive, blitz-heavy defensive scheme.
Safeties are not normally thought of as pass-rushers. A safety’s job typically consists of pass coverage and run defense. However, safeties are used occasionally in blitzes. Xavier McKinney is a player that should be used in blitzes often as he has proven to be an excellent pass-rusher from the safety position.
Xavier McKinney As A Blitzer
The Giants’ second-round draft pick, Xavier McKinney, is a talented, versatile safety out of Alabama. McKinney was projected to be a first-round draft pick and the Giants were extremely fortunate to land him in round two.
In his collegiate career, McKinney lined up all over the Alabama defense. Xavier played 323 snaps in the box, 227 in the slot, and 271 deep (PFF). McKinney’s versatile skill set allows him to thrive in coverage and run defense wherever he lines up on the field.
In this clip, McKinney lines up as an edge rusher and gets a clutch strip-sack on 2020’s number one overall pick, Joe Burrow:
Alabama defense comes up huge….Xavier McKinney gets the strip-sack on Joe Burrow, and the Crimson Tide pounce on the loose ball. pic.twitter.com/xVYAqDQhGL
— Inside The 5 (@InsideThe5) November 9, 2019
This was one of many impressive pass-rushes by Xavier McKinney in college. According to Pro Football Focus, Xavier recorded 21 pressures across 71 pass-rushing snaps in the last two years. He also totaled 3 sacks in each of his last two seasons. This is especially important for the Giants because of the defensive scheme they will be running.
Newly hired defensive coordinator Patrick Graham runs an aggressive defensive scheme filled with blitzes. In 2019, the Dolphins Blitzed on 35% of their snaps, 41% on third down (which was the third-most in the league). Knowing that Xavier McKinney as such an efficient pass-rusher, Patrick Graham will likely send his rookie safety on blitzes early and often in 2020.