New York Giants Officially Move Two Important Players To Injured Reserve

New York Giants, Xavier McKinney

The New York Giants have made a flurry of roster moves during the past week but one of the most notable is moving two players to injured reserve. We all knew that Xavier McKinney and David Mayo were injured, but now that they’re on the IR list, the possible timeline for a recovery is becoming more clear.

Mayo out for a few weeks, McKinney out for longer

Based on the current rules the players are able to come back after three weeks because of being placed on the IR list while also being on the team’s 53 man roster. However, only one player will actually come back during that time span. The Giants seem to be lucky with the injury to David Mayo, because a fast recovery within a few weeks is expected.

McKinney, on the other hand, is worse off. Safety Xavier McKinney was supposed to be an impact player in the secondary. But with a broken bone in his foot, he may miss the entire year. Even if he’s not out the whole time, it will definitely be later in the season before the Giants get him back.

By then, the team may want to keep him on the bench rather than throwing him into the metaphorical fire quickly.

The Giants will miss Mayo for the first couple games of the season most likely, even if he can return from the IR list later. The Giants strangely enough cut Mayo’s top competitor, Ryan Connelly, so it looks like it might just be up to relative unknowns like Devante Downs and T.J. Brunson to man the spot until Mayo is healthy again.

New York Giants, Logan Ryan have mutual interest (Report)

New York Jets, Logan Ryan, Tennessee Titans

According to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan, the New York Giants and free-agent cornerback Logan Ryan have mutual interest.

Ryan, 29, spent the last three seasons with the Tennessee Titans. Last season he compiled four interceptions, four and a half sacks, and 113 combined tackles. Across the Titans’ three 2019 AFC playoff games, Ryan compiled one interception and 25 combined tackles.

Across his seven seasons in the NFL, the cornerback has compiled 17 interceptions, 11 sacks, and 494 combined tackles. He was selected with the 83rd pick in the 2013 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots, where he played from 2013-16.

The Rutgers product recently changed his agent, and his former representation pitched to teams that Ryan can play safety, too.

Ryan is one of several high-profile free agents still unsigned. Defensive ends Jadeveon Clowney, Clay Matthews, and Jabaal Sheard, safety Earl Thomas and defensive tackle Damon Harrison are free agents.

The Giants secondary has taken a hit in recent weeks. Would-be second-year corner DeAndre Baker has been prosecuted on four counts of robbery with a firearm; corner Sam Beal opted out of the 2020 season; rookie safety Xavier McKinney fractured his foot, likely sidelining him for the first half of the regular season. Linebacker David Mayo recently tore his meniscus, likely sidelining him for a month.

The team’s active defensive backfield includes free-agent signee James Bradberry, Jabrill Peppers, Grant Haley, second-year players Julian Love and Corey Ballentine, and rookies Darnay Holmes and Chris Williamson, among others.

Holmes left the Giants’ Friday night intrasquad scrimmage at MetLife Stadium with a “lower” injury, and Blake Martinez missed some time with an undisclosed injury. Both players have returned to practice.

The Giants are learning a new defense under new head coach Joe Judge, administered by defensive coordinator Patrick Graham.

The Giants open the 2020 NFL season on Monday, September 14 at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

New York Giants: Xavier McKinney’s Career Is Not Doomed After Fifth Metatarsal Fracture

New York Giants, Xavier McKinney

The New York Giants were hit with bad injury news last week, losing two key pieces on their defense. Rookie safety Xavier McKinney and starting linebacker David Mayo were both announced injured. Mayo is expected to miss a few weeks with a meniscus trim, but McKinney is expected to be out much longer.

Xavier McKinney suffered a fractured left foot injury. More specifically, McKinney fractured his fifth metatarsal, the long bone on the outside of the foot that connects to the little toe.

This type of injury is fairly common. Many athletes have suffered this injury, some being pretty big-names. McKinney is expected to miss at least two months as he recovers from this injury. But many fans are concerned that Xavier will not be the same player when he returns. Hakeem Nicks, one of the Giants’ best wide receivers in the Eli Manning-era, suffered the same injury and never returned to the same level he was once capable of. Is Xavier McKinney’s career also doomed by this injury?

How Other NFL Players Have Recovered From This Injury:

Xavier McKinney is not the first player to ever suffer a fractured fifth metatarsal. In fact, a few big-name NFL players have also suffered the same injury and made full recoveries.

Julio Jones

Julio Jones broke his foot in 2013, playing in only five games that season. Since then, Jones has dominated the NFL. Coming back from that injury, Jones was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2014. He was then selected as a First-Team All-Pro in the following 2015 and 2016 seasons. Julio has not missed the Pro Bowl in a season since 2013. Julio Jones made a full recovery from this injury (suffered in his third season) and cemented himself as one of the best wide receivers in NFL history over the course of a career that has not yet ended.

Marvin Jones

Another wide receiver, another Jones, Marvin also made a full recovery from the same injury. During his time with the Cincinnati Bengals, Marvin Jones fractured his fifth metatarsal in 2014. Jones missed the entirety of the 2014 season with this injury. But the following season, Marvin played in all 16 games and put up 816 yards on 65 receptions. Jones is still in the league, providing quality performances from the slot for the Detroit Lions, all these years removed from a fractured fifth metatarsal.

Ben Roethlisberger

Not just wide receivers have recovered from fractured feet. The sport’s most valuable position is not immune to injuries. Long-time Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is another one on the list of star NFL players who have recovered from a fractured fifth metatarsal.

Big Ben broke his big foot in 2010. Ben suffered the injury towards the end of the year, so he only missed the final four games of the season. But this was not an injury that Ben carried into 2011, or throughout the rest of his career. Roethlisberger returned to start in 15 games in 2011 and make one of his six career Pro Bowls. Ben Roethlisberger has continued to stand on that foot in the pocket and deliver big-time throws over the past ten years.

Stephon Tuitt

Moving to the defensive side of the ball, the Steelers have another solid player to add to this list. Stephon Tuitt, one of the NFL’s most consistent defensive tackles of the last six years, also suffered a fractured foot at one point. This situation could be the most comparable to Xavier McKinney, too, because of the timing of Tuitt’s injury.

Stephon was drafted in 2014, but he did not participate in the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine due to a fracture in his fifth metatarsal. Tuitt suffered this injury in college and, subsequently, played a very limited role in his rookie season. Tuitt appeared in all 16 games, starting 4 of them, but he only played 40% of the Steelers’ defensive snaps.

The next season, Tuitt’s role expanded as he played 79% of the defense’s snaps. Tuitt is still one of the Steelers’ starting defensive lineman, to this day. He did suffer another injury in 2019, missing ten games, but this injury was unrelated to his foot injury. Tuitt tore his pec in 2019.

Derwin James

Another player to compare Xavier McKinney to is Derwin James. After a dominant, All-Pro rookie season in 2018, Derwin James suffered a fractured fifth metatarsal during training camp in 2019. James missed the first twelve weeks of the 2019 NFL season. This is the timetable expected for McKinney. He should be back around Week 13 for the Giants.

Derwin returned to the Chargers’ starting lineup in Week 13. He was not limited in any way, playing 98% of the team’s defensive snaps in Weeks 13 and 14, then 100% of the snaps in Weeks 15, 16, and 17. Of course, as it would be expected, Derwin James was not the dominant player in those final five games that he was in his rookie season- he had some rust to oil off. But Derwin was still playing at a high level after returning from this injury.

Derwin James earned an 82.3 overall grade by Pro Football Focus in those final five games, making him one of the highest-graded safeties of the 2019 NFL season. Granted, he only played 299 snaps, but he was still a solid player during that time frame. Derwin James recovered from the fractured fifth metatarsal injury and returned to form in only twelve weeks.

What Does This Mean For Xavier McKinney?

Xavier McKinney’s career is not doomed by his foot injury. Many Giants fans were scared when they first heard the news of McKinney’s fractured foot. Hearing the term “fifth metatarsal” gave them flashbacks to Hakeem Nicks and his injury from 2012. But Hakeem is just one example of a player who suffered this injury. Many other players have suffered the same injury, fully recovered, and gone on to continue successful careers.

Even at the safety position, Derwin James recovered and made an impact towards the end of the 2019 season. McKinney and James have a similar playing-style, too. Giants fans will see Xavier McKinney suit up this season, barring unforeseen complications. But the likely outcome in this situation is that Xavier McKinney fully recovers from this injury and goes on to have a successful career for the New York Giants.

New York Giants: Positions To Keep An Eye On With Cuts Around The Corner

New York Giants

The New York Giants will set their fifty-three man roster in a week from today. Over this next week, the team will be determining who will stay and who will go. The Giants do have a few positions of need, and they also have few positions of strength. Ahead of camp cuts, which positions are worth keeping a close eye on?

UDFA Wide Receivers

Behind Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, and Golden Tate, the Giants have a positional battle at the wide receiver position. Corey Coleman will be competing with a number of rookie wide receivers to win the fourth wide receiver position.

New York has four undrafted free agent wide receivers currently on the roster. Derrick Dillon, Binjimen Victor, Austin Mack, and Cody White were all signed by the Giants this offseason. They have all had their fair share of ups and downs in camp, but Victor and Mack have had a few more standout plays.

There are also two other receivers making their names known in camp: David Stills and Alex Bachman. Both players have impressed in practice and could earn themselves a spot on the final roster. For all of these wide receivers, this next week of practice is crucial.

New York Giants: Logan Ryan Should Be On Big Blue’s Radar

New York Giants, Logan Ryan

The New York Giants have had a spate of bad luck in their young, talented secondary. First, DeAndre Baker, a potential starter at cornerback this season, got himself jammed up down in Florida in an assault/robbery incident that resulted in him getting indicted and then placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List.

Then, third-year cornerback Sam Beal decided to opt out of playing this year due to coronavirus concerns. Now, this week comes the new that stud rookie safety Xavier McKinney broke a bone in his left foot that required surgery and will miss at least three months.

The solutions could come from within, but common sense says it probably shouldn’t.

“Any injury to our roster is a hit to us because we care about every player on our roster,” said head coach Joe Judge. “But it’s our responsibility to have everyone developed and make sure the next man is ready to go.”

At safety, that next man is Julian Love, a fourth round pick out of Notre Dame in last year’s NFL Draft who started at safety the last four games of the 2019 season. The Giants could simply hand the job back to Love and be done with it, but again, common sense says they could do better.

That is why the Giants should probably pursue former Rutgers and New England Patriots defensive back Logan Ryan, who is still available in free agency. Ryan is well known to head coach Joe Judge and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham.

Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post writes the Giants can certainly fit Ryan into their plans.

“A career 85-game starter, Ryan played 395 special teams snaps over his first three years with Judge as a special teams coach for the Patriots. Judge favors cross-training positions, and Ryan, 29, can play in the box, roam deep or lock into a one-on-one slot matchup.

The Giants’ reasoning for staying pat makes sense: With the NFL salary cap potentially dropping by 11.6 percent to $175 million per team in 2021, there is value in rolling over unused 2020 space (currently $25.6 million) to soften the blow when the team is more competitive. Ryan was willing to take a one-year, $10 million contract to return to the Tennessee Titans and initially wanted at least that annual salary to change teams.”

The Giants are apparently weighing their options. The salary cap will be going down in 2021 and they have a lot of mouths to feed. Evan Engram, Dalvin Tomlinson, Leonard Williams headline the list of players who will be free agents next year. With less cap room to play around with, they have to be smart with how they deploy their resources.

The rollover will go a long way in helping pay those young stars. McKinney will be back next year. So will Beal most likely and who knows about Baker. Using $10 million of that on Ryan, who could be seen as a band-aid for one year, may not be the direction the Giants feel like going.

In the interim, they appear to be content will sticking with Love next to Jabrill Peppers and free agent James Bradberry at one corner. They still have to fill the opening at the other corner and at slot corner. Rookie Darnay Holmes will likely win one of those spots with the other going to any number of the candidates in camp: Montre Hartage, Corey Ballentine, Chris Williamson, Grant Haley, Jarren Williams, Dravon Askew-Henry, KeiVarae Russell, Brandon Williams and Prince Smith.

None of those players would bring the stability that Ryan brings. Not that anyone can see, anyway. They are in a corner, no pun intended, and the only way out may be to spend.

 

Taking a look at how the New York Giants will supplement the loss of Xavier McKinney

New York Giants, Xavier McKinney

The New York Giants learned some disturbing news on Wednesday afternoon. Rookie safety Xavier McKinney was diagnosed with a fractured left foot, which will keep him out for a majority of the 2020 season. While it is possible he does see the field later on in the campaign, the expectation is that the Giants will have to move on without him.

In addition to McKinney, linebacker David Mayo also suffered a torn meniscus. While reports indicate he could only miss a few weeks as they will trim the injured meniscus, it is an injury that forces the Giants to adapt with unreliable talent in the reserves.

The Giants do have second your player Ryan Connelly as an option, but he has sat the past few days of practice after healing from a torn ACL in week four of the 2019 season. With McKinney out, finding a supplement will be difficult. However, there is one glowing option that makes the most sense.

Options for the New York Giants to supplement the loss of Xavier McKinney:

1.) Julian Love

The former Notre Dame cornerback has spent training camp at free safety, and good thing he has since he will likely be asked to start the season there. Love did experience some reps at free safety in 2019, but he was used in a creative way to help him adapt and act as a utility player across the board.

During his rookie season, he tallied 37 combined tackles, five tackles for loss, three passes defended, and one interception. He allowed just one touchdown on a 65.5% completion rate against.

Ultimately, Love has the tangible traits to fill in as a starter for the time being. There was a good chance he would have gained significant playing time regardless of McKinney being healthy or not.

With Xavier out, this allows the former fourth-round pick to establish himself at the NFL level and potentially lock down a starting position. Nonetheless, it will be devastating for McKinney’s development, and it will ultimately set him back quite some time.

2.) Montre Hartage

Hartage spent his rookie season with the Miami Dolphins in 2019. His experience with Patrick Graham led to the Giants signing him as a reserve option.

Hartage played in just four games last year, tallying eight combined tackles, and allowing an 87.5% completion rate against. Don’t be alarmed by this excessive number, as his sample size is exceptionally low. It is possible he pushes for starting reps in 2020 with the secondary thin, but I believe keeping him as a reserve and letting Julian Love start is the ideal scenario.

3.) Logan Ryan

The New York Giants could go out and sign Logan Ryan, who has since proposed the idea of moving to safety. Looking at his statistical production, he has some of the best numbers for a corner in the NFL. That is primarily because he was targeted 103 times in coverage, allowing 68 completions.

Giving up five touchdowns in 2019 was problematic, but utilizing him as a deep field safety might be more beneficial. They could also look to sign him as a slot corner and move Darnay Holmes into the CB2 role. There’s still a lot left for the Giants to do regarding the roster, and with the regular season just three weeks away, they’re going to need to expedite the process.

Giants in Trouble: Injuries Befall an Already Strapped Secondary

New York Giants, Xavier McKinney, Jabrill Peppers

The last thing the New York Giants needed was to incur long term injuries on their transient defense this summer. But that’s exactly what transpired on Wednesday. As the team conducted a walkthrough at MetLife Stadium, it was learned that two potential starters – rookie safety Xavier McDaniel and veteran linebacker David Mayo – sustained injuries that would require surgery and will miss significant time.

In McKinney’s case, he fractured a bone in his left foot, and underwent surgery on Wednesday to correct the issue. The prognosis is he’ll be out approximately three months, which means is he can make it back this season but it won’t be until around Thanksgiving.

That’s too bad for both McKinney and the Giants. The second-rounder out of Alabama was on the verge of wrapping up a starting role on the defense next to Jabrill Peppers in the middle of the Giants’ secondary. Now, the Giants will likely turn to second-year player Julian Love, who started there the final month of last season to mixed results.

“Any injury to our roster is a hit to us because we care about every player on our roster,’ head coach Joe Judge said. “But it’s our responsibility to have everyone developed and make sure the next man is ready to go.”

That is true. Every NFL team goes through a spate of injuries but the McKinney and Mayo (meniscus) injuries hit hard at a time when the the Giants were just getting their footing on defense.

Judge did not have all of the information needed on Wednesday to make an informed statement as McKinney was still having his procedure done.

“To be completely honest with you, I have to wait and see what the surgeons say when they go ahead and work on it,” he said. “From what I understand, it’s two different options of what it could be. I’m holding out hope that we get all of our players back from injury as fast as possible. We’ll see where that goes and I’m sure we’ll have a timetable sooner than later for you guys. I would just say that with all the timetable stuff, it’s important to be nimble. Every injury is different, every person is different. The recovery time can’t be one size fits all. We have to see where he’s going with this. I know he is going to work hard to rehab and get his body ready. We have to keep his mind and moving and keep him engaged with the team.”

Mayo finished last season as a starter at inside linebacker after rookie Ryan Connelly went down early in the year with a torn ACL. He was penciled in again as the starter this summer next to free agent Blake Martinez as Connelly is still not participating fully in practices. Mayo was also being challenged by Devante Downs, who has made an impression on the coaches at camp this month. Judge said on Wednesday, Mayo’s situation was wait-and-see as well, but confirmed he would have surgery on Thursday.

“Very much like Zay, we have to wait and see what the doctors say after they go in. I was told today by Ronnie (Barnes, Sr. VP of Medical Services) that he had been looking at his knee. There wasn’t anything that we thought was an issue, I guess it flared up on him yesterday. Ronnie came into my office this morning and let me know where he’s at. They are taking a look at him, they should have more news for me tomorrow and we will see where that’s at. He’s a guy that we respect a lot and we’re counting on for a lot production this year. Get him healthy and back out there as soon as possible.”

The Giants’ secondary is already strapped with DeAndre Baker on the Commissioner’s exempt list and Sam Beal inactive after opting out due to coronavirus concerns. They do have other options but McKinney was their “steal of the draft” this year – a first round round talent who fell to them in the second round. He was poised to make a significant contribution as a rookie.

One player who the Giants did not have in their plans that may now be is rookie free agent Jarren Williams, the former UAlbany player who they picked up off waivers three weeks ago. Williams is a cornerback by trade but the Giants believe he might be able to help them at safety.

“He’s one of those guys that has shown some ability,” defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson said on Wednesday. “Like you, I didn’t know a lot about him coming into this. He showed up and I was like, ‘Well, we may have something here.’ He’s competing hard, he has good athleticism, he has good size. He has a chance to develop hopefully into something and we’ll see where it goes. But he’s done a good job of at least grabbing people’s attention.”

It’s down to getting lucky for the Giants right now. That’s something they haven’t been as of late.

 

New York Giants: Free Agent Safeties Who Could Fill In For McKinney

New York Giants, Antoine Bethea

The New York Giants suffered a huge loss today. Rookie safety Xavier McKinney has suffered a broken foot that will keep him sidelined for months. McKinney was one of the most exciting rookies on the Giants. He was primed to play a major role as a starter in the Giants’ new defense.

Now, with McKinney sidelined for the foreseeable future, the Giants have a huge hole to fill on the back end. Julian Love is likely to start at free safety now, but the depth is lacking in the Giants’ secondary.

Logan Ryan

Many Giants fans have been crying out for their team to sign free agent cornerback Logan Ryan. Ryan had an up-and-down season with the Titans in 2019, but he put together a pretty spectacular statistical season.

Ryan is a former member of the Patriots as well, so he is familiar with Joe Judge. Logan could easily slide in as the starter in the slot cornerback position,  but he has experience playing on the outside as well, and even at safety.

If the Giants were to sign Logan Ryan, it would not be cheap. Ryan is reportedly seeking a contract worth more than $10 million. But his versatility would allow the Giants to gain depth at more than one position. Ryan could fill in at safety, slot cornerback, or outside cornerback, depending on where the Giants need him most.

Tony Jefferson

If the Giants want to get a pure safety, there are some veteran options they could take a look at. Tony Jefferson is one of those options. Jefferson is twenty-eight-years-old now and is a free agent after spending the last three seasons with the Baltimore Ravens.

One area of concern, though, is Jefferson’s injury history. Tony suffered a torn ACL in the fifth game of the 2019 season, sidelining him for the rest of the year. This was a huge loss in the Ravens’ secondary, as Jefferson was on the field for nearly every single defensive snap in Baltimore.

Jefferson was formerly a strong safety, playing in the box and making an impact in the run game. But he moved over to free safety last year. He could be a solid depth piece at either the free safety or strong safety position for the Giants, depending on where Julian Love lines up.

Antoine Bethea

The Giants could bring back a familiar face. It might not go over too well with the fanbase, but general manager Dave Gettleman could look to bring back the Giants’ starting safety from 2019, Antoine Bethea.

Bethea started all sixteen games for the Giants in 2019. He totaled 110 combined tackles, one interception, and six passes defended. But Bethea was very inconsistent for the Giants and struggled at times in coverage. He is also thirty-six-years-old, so he is not a spring chicken at this point in his career. Antoine would not at all be a long-term answer at the safety position. He would have to be signed on a one-year deal. But Gettleman’s familiarity with Bethea could entice him to re-sign the veteran.

New York Giants lose Xavier McKinney and David Mayo to injury

New York Giants, Xavier McKinney

It is 2020 after all. The New York Giants couldn’t escape the injury bug before the regular season even started, with second-round pick Xavier McKinney fracturing his left foot and reserve linebacker David Mayo picking up a torn meniscus.

McKinney, who is expected to be a focal point on defense in the secondary, will now miss significant time before making his debut. It is possible he will miss the entire 2020 season, as he will undergo surgery on Wednesday with foot specialist Dr. Martin O’Malley.

The Alabama product has looked stellar during training camp so far, forcing several turnovers and exciting the defense with his quality of play. In 2019 with the Crimson Tide, he racked up seven turnovers and displayed a keen ability to move up to the line of scrimmage and play well against the run as well as act as a ball hawk.

As for Mayo, he will undergo surgery on Thursday, after spending his first season with the Giants in 2019. The six-year veteran played in all 16 games for Big Blue, including 13 starts after rookie Ryan Connolly went down with a torn ACL. He had a career-best 80 tackles and earned 2.0 sacks.

The New York Giants are already thin on defense:

Losing these two players is a significant hit to an already thin defense. The secondary is missing a starter at the number two corner position and now free safety is up for grabs. However, young defender Julian Love will supplement the loss of McKinney at free safety, as he’s been working primarily there with the Giants during padded practices.

As for a middle linebacker, the Giants signed Blake Martinez with a three-year deal to act as one of their starters. With Mayo now scheduled to miss significant time, the hopes are that Connelly can regain his health and be ready for the start of the regular season in three weeks.

Do the New York Giants have a 3-headed monster on defense?

New York Giants, Xavier McKinney, Jabrill Peppers

What the New York Giants are trying to achieve on defense does not happen in one off-season. General manager Dave Gettleman instituted a full roster rebuild after the 2018 season, trading away Odell Beckham Jr. and allocating a ton of draft capital toward rebuilding the secondary.

While the rebuild hasn’t shown many positive signs, youth agendas don’t normally translate to wins in the NFL. However, going into the second year of the rebuild, improvement should be on the horizon.

A big part of the team’s mantra on defense is versatility and creativity. Hiring defensive coordinator Patrick Graham will guarantee a reliance on man coverage and a schemed pass rush.

The secondary remains the biggest concern, after starting cornerback DeAndre Baker was placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List and reserve option Sam Beal opted out of the 2020 season. The safeties represent the unit with the most potential in the backfield, and head coach Joe Judge has high expectations for them on a weekly basis.

“Versatility’s a huge part of all of our systems – offense, defense and the kicking game,” Judge said. “Our defense is going to be multiple. That’s both by base scheme, it’s also going to be based by game plan, who the opponent is. You’re going to see four to six DBs on the field at certain times.

New York Giants’ three-headed monster:

1.) Xavier McKinney

When the New York Giants drafted Xavier McKinney with their second-round pick, nobody knew much about him. He was the number one rated safety on the board, but the Giants had a ton of other needs at the time. Nonetheless, he has a specific mold that allows him to transition from free to strong safety when called upon. He is fantastic in cover-1 defense and can move up to the line of scrimmage and play against the run. The biggest concern is tackling technique, but he understands his rookie season will be full of hiccups and developmental mistakes.

Nonetheless, his adaptation to the NFL has been more seamless than anticipated.

The former Alabama defender is familiar with the way head coach Joe Judge runs his team:

“When (coach Joe Judge) discussed some of his rules and how he wanted things to be handled and how we wanted us to be as a team, it was almost like a mirror version of how it was at Bama for me,” McKinney said. “As far as that, it was an easy adjustment for me. I’ve already been in this type of system. It wasn’t that hard of a transition.

According to Pro Football Focus, Xavier lined up as a strong safety on 323 snaps, free safety on 271, and slot corner on 227 in 2019 with the Crimson Tide.

Julian Love had a glowing review regarding McKinney:

“When Xavier was drafted, I just thought, ‘Wow, that’s great firepower for us,’ ” Love said. “I had heard about him, I know how he is as a person, as a player, how he prepares. I think that’s what we needed around here.”

2.) Jabrill Peppers

Jabrill Peppers had one of his best seasons in 2019, despite missing the final five games of the year with a hip injury. Making the permanent transition to strong safety has allowed him to play closer to the line of scrimmage and utilize his instincts to react.

A look at his stats (2017 & 2019 at SS):

2017 stats: 13 games — 58 combined tackles, 1 TFL, 0 QB hits, 3 PD, 0 FF, 1 INT

2019 stats: 11 games — 76 combined tackles, 5 TFL, 2 QB hits, 5 PD, 3 FF, 1 INT

He is better when aggressive then staying deep in the secondary as a ball hawk. I expect him to lock down opposing tight ends and provide coverage the Giants have lacked at the position in recent years.

“I see energy (in Peppers),” Head Coach Joe Judge told reporters last week. “You hear him before you see him. You know when he’s in the room. He’s a lively guy, he brings a lot of energy to the team, a lot of energy to the locker room. You can tell he’s a football guy. He loves ball. He flies around. You can tell if guys are on the field, whether it’s conditioning, whether it’s the limited version of practice we had this morning, you can tell football guys. He’s definitely a ball guy.”

3.) Julian Love

One player who has been standing out during padded practices is second-year defensive back, Julian Love. Despite playing predominantly cornerback at Notre Dame during college, he has made the transition to safety and has taken well to the position. The New York Giants are trying to utilize him as a utility player who can fill multiple roles and play based on matchups.

“There’s just a learning curve, so you’ve seen him improve every day,” coach Joe Judge said. “He’s been more vocal. That’s important in his role, being the signal-caller in the deep part of the field.

“He has the athletic ability that we’re going to play him in a different variety of spots based on the matchups. You see him play up in some man-coverage sometimes. We’re going to move him around as needed.”

Having a player like Love that can fill-in and start in specific scenarios is exciting. Pairing him with McKinney and Peppers should give the defense creativity but hasn’t been present for a long time. With a simpler and more fundamental style scheme under Graham, Love can maximize his talents and contribute to a team that desperately needs a semblance of improvement.