Second-round pick safety Xavier McKinney is one of the players that have stood out so far in New York Giants training camp.
Xavier McKinney was considered by many to be the best safety in the draft. So when the New York Giants were able to draft him in the second round (36th overall), many felt it was the steal of the draft.
Despite playing three years at Alabama under coach Nick Saban, the physicality and speed of the NFL are vastly different than college.
On Thursday, McKinney was asked what’s the difference between training camp at Alabama and with the Giants.
“The quest is a little different. The transition is a little different from college to the pros,” McKinney admitted. “It’s definitely a different level of speed and tempo. Like you said, it’s still somewhat similar as far as what we do. As far as tempo-wise, it’s a little bit faster. It has a lot of similar things to it.”
As we all know, Giants head coach Joe Judge was a special teams assistant at Alabama from 2009-2011. Being that Judge is entering his first season as a head coach, people are curious to see if his coaching style would mimic Saban or Bill Belichick, who Judge coached under the past eight seasons.
McKinney was asked if there are any similarities between how Saban and Judge operate.
“It’s very similar. When I kind of figured out and when he 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. As far as that, it was an easy adjustment for me. I have already been in this type of system. It wasn’t that hard of a transition.”
The Giants defense was only able to record 10 interceptions all of last season. Judge, as well as new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, are hopeful McKinney will help increase that number this season.
So far the outlook looks promising as McKinney already has one interception in camp, and almost came away with another one in Thursday’s practice.
Some defensive backs would be satisfied with breaking up a pass, but that’s not McKinney’s mindset.
“No, never satisfied. That’s my biggest thing right now,” McKinney said. “For me, I know what I can do. I know what I’m capable of. A lot of the times I go back and watch my film and when we watch film as a team, I always study and see what I did wrong and what I can do better so I can improve on a play. Whether it’s a down or whoever I’m guarding, I try to make sure I key on that every time I watch film.”
McKinney is part of a young secondary where Jabrill Peppers is the only starter returning from last season.
Xavier McKinney on the similarities between Coach Judge and Coach Saban ⤵️
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Having chemistry and continuity in the secondary is imperative or else the opponent is scoring a touchdown. Building chemistry without having an offseason program or preseason games can be a daunting task for a young secondary.
“We are building (chemistry) every day,” McKinney told reporters. “As a DB room, including the corners and all the safeties, we’re building it every day in film, when we are out there in practice. When we are walking through, we always try to make sure we are good communication-wise in what we do.”
“Try to make sure we are on the same page so when we get out on the field everybody is working on a string so it’s a lot easier to play like that,” he continued. “I think it’s coming along really well for all of us. Of course, we as a group still have a lot to work on and improve.”
The Giants will have their first intrasquad scrimmage on Friday before they have a day off on Saturday.