Taking a look at New York Giants’ 2nd round pick Xavier McKinney and how he is the next best thing after Isaiah Simmons:
Before the 2020 NFL draft, Clemson stand-out defender Isaiah Simmons was mocked to the New York Giants consistently in the weeks following up.
Simmons is a fantastic athlete that played all over the Clemson defense, featuring at linebacker, safety, and even rushed the passer frequently. However, the Giants realized that the left tackle position was problematic after Nate Solder allowed 11 sacks in 2019. They made the executive decision to select Andrew Thomas with the fourth overall pick, passing on Simmons and eventually landing safety Xavier McKinney in the second round.
Here’s what Nick Saban, head coach for the Alabama Crimson Tide, had to say about McKinney and what he has to offer the New York Giants at the pro level:
“I think Xavier has a lot of diversity as a player,” Saban said. “He can play man-to-man, he’s got pretty good ball judgment, he’s a good tackler, he’s got a lot of toughness, he’s a very instinctive and effective blitzer. He’s got some burst and acceleration to come off the edge or blitz up the middle and he’s got enough power to take on a blocker if he needs to. So he can do just about all the critical factors in terms of what we look for in a safety here. As he got experience, he was smart enough to be able to play multiple positions.
“I think the guy’s got some dog in him. He’s a competitive guy. He’s a playmaker. We have a production point system here that we use, and he was always high on that board because he forces fumbles, shows up in the right place, does a good job of executing. He’s instinctive, he’s a quick reactor, he’s got a burst. He can be a knock-back tackler. So he’s always been a real playmaker for us and it comes in a lot of different ways, but that’s probably his greatest strength – his production.”
McKinney’s stats attest to his versatility on defense, logging 95 total tackles, 25 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, three interceptions, and four forced fumbles last season. He can play all over the defense, creeping up to the line of scrimmage to act as a pass rusher, and dropping back into the deeper portion of the secondary as a ball hawk. Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham will utilize him in all of these different facets, as he blitzed 41% of the time on third down in 2019 with the Miami Dolphins. Having a player like Xavier will open up his playbook and creativity, as his game speed is one of the best at the position coming out of the draft.
He is essentially what Simmons is at the safety position, with his ability to move around and feature in different looks. In other words, McKinney is the next best thing, and the Giants got him in the second round.