Xavier McKinney is looking to portray a significant level of versatility on the New York Giants defense during his rookie campaign.
In a surprise to most, Alabama safety Xavier McKinney, who was arguably the best at his position in this year’s entire draft class, wasn’t selected in the opening round. This allowed him to drop to No. 36 overall, where he fell right into the arms of the New York Giants.
McKinney will likely start alongside Jabrill Peppers in what could be an extremely athletic and versatile safety tandem. But will the young rookie be okay doing anything the team asks of him?
The apparent answer is a resounding yes.
“I’ve always said this and I’ll always keep saying it, my biggest comfort zone is I’m comfortable anywhere,” McKinney told John Schmeelk of Giants.com’s “Giants Huddle” podcast. “Any zone that I feel like I’m uncomfortable at, I try to make it my comfort zone. But how I play and the way I play, I’m comfortable at any level of the defense. I try not to just pinpoint one thing that I do well. I’m just excited to be ready for wherever the opportunity might be.”
In all likelihood, McKinney will play the free safety position and replace veteran Antoine Bethea, who experienced a number of struggles in his lone season with New York. The now-former Crimson Tide standout will work to help restore credibility to a unit that finished 25th in total defense and 28th in pass defense last year.
Big Blue won’t strictly utilize him as a deep safety though. Expect the Giants to use McKinney up near the line of scrimmage in certain scenarios. It’s an area he succeeded in during his collegiate tenure, having recorded 5.5 tackles for loss and a trio of sacks in his 2019 junior campaign.