EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - DECEMBER 15: Albert Wilson #15 of the Miami Dolphins carries the ball as Julian Love #24 of the New York Giants defends in the second quarter at MetLife Stadium on December 15, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

All Julian Love could think about when Xavier McKinney was drafted was how the pick would help the New York Giants.

Prior to this past April’s NFL Draft, many believed Julian Love would potentially be the clear cut starter at the free safety position. The New York Giants defensive back impressed during the back end of his 2019 rookie campaign when he filled in for the injured Jabrill Peppers at strong safety. Peppers went down with a transverse process fracture in the midst of the Week 12 loss to Chicago.

Nonetheless, the Giants went ahead and selected Alabama safety Xavier McKinney, a player no one expected to drop to the No. 36 overall pick (second round). Due to McKinney’s talent and athleticism, it’s safe to pencil him in as the starting free safety, so did the pick ultimately disappoint the young and promising Love?

Apparently, no, according to the man himself.

“I’m excited. To have somebody who’s next to me — in terms of being a friend, being a brother on the team,” Love said. “When he was drafted, I just thought, ‘wow that’s great firepower for us, it’s who we need.’ I’d 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. So I was excited when he got that call.”

It’s unclear what Love’s exact role will be heading into the new season, but he definitely possesses a shot to be the Week 1 starter at one of the two main cornerback spots or even at the slot corner position. The Giants don’t have anyone penciled in for either of those roles amid the legal situation involving DeAndre Baker, who, at this time, isn’t expected to take part in the Giants’ initial regular-season matchup against the Steelers on Sept. 14.

Despite Love’s time as a safety last season, the 22-year-old was a consensus All-American cornerback at Notre Dame, and he should carry the intelligence and versatility necessary to return to that role and pick up the position in a timely manner.

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.