Alabama head coach Nick Saban discussed New York Giants second-round pick Xavier McKinney while appearing on the “Giants Huddle” podcast.
With the No. 36 overall pick in the (virtual) 2020 NFL Draft, the New York Giants bolstered their defensive backfield with the selection of Xavier McKinney. The Alabama safety proved to be a versatile athlete while in college, putting together a fantastic 2019 campaign en route to becoming a first-team All-SEC selection.
McKinney will bring a significant level of talent to Big Blue’s secondary, and his college head coach believes he won’t have a tough time doing so in the early stages of his career.
“I think it’ll be helpful to him because we do — when I was coaching for the Dolphins or Bill Belichick’s defensive coordinator in Cleveland — we do a lot of the same stuff here from a coverage standpoint, from a secondary standpoint,” Nick Saban said during an appearance on the “Giants Huddle” podcast. “So our guys typically make good adjustments. I know a few years ago we had six guys sign NFL contracts and five of them ended up starting as rookies. Even though this will be a transition, I think most of the things that ‘X’ is going to be exposed to, he’s probably done. They might call it something different. I think it’ll be an easy transition for him.”
McKinney will be joining a young Giants secondary, with the oldest potential starter just 26 years of age — cornerback James Bradberry.
He’ll likely start, considering the Giants made a significant investment in him during the annual draft. He may perform at the free safety position alongside strong safety Jabrill Peppers, who’s entering his second season with the organization.
During the 2019 campaign (his junior year), McKinney recorded 95 total tackles (59 solo) with 5.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, three picks, five passes defended, and four forced fumbles.
The team’s starting defensive backfield in 2020 may include McKinney, Peppers, Bradberry, DeAndre Baker, and a slot corner position that might encompass a tight battle with a number of different competitors. Regardless of who starts, the group will be looking to improve from a 2019 performance in which it allowed 264.1 passing yards per game (28th in the league).