Nick Saban explains why he likes Xavier McKinney's fit with the New York Giants
Though most analysts thought Alabama S Xavier McKinney would go in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, he had to wait a bit longer.
However, he quickly came off the board on Day 2 of the event, going No. 36 overall to the New York Giants.
Speaking with the “Giants Huddle” podcast recently, Alabama coach Nick Saban explained why he thinks McKinney can find a great deal of success in the NFL:
“I think Xavier has a lot of diversity as a player,” Saban said. “He can play man-to-man, he’s got pretty good ball judgment, he’s a good tackler, he’s got a lot of toughness, he’s a very instinctive and effective blitzer. He’s got some burst and acceleration to come off the edge or blitz up the middle and he’s got enough power to take on a blocker if he needs to. So he can do just about all the critical factors in terms of what we look for in a safety here. As he got experience, he was smart enough to be able to play multiple positions.
“I think the guy’s got some dog in him. He’s a competitive guy. He’s a playmaker. We have a production point system here that we use, and he was always high on that board because he forces fumbles, shows up in the right place, does a good job of executing. He’s instinctive, he’s a quick reactor, he’s got a burst. He can be a knock-back tackler. So he’s always been a real playmaker for us and it comes in a lot of different ways, but that’s probably his greatest strength – his production.”
As for McKinney sliding into Round 2 instead of being taken in Round 1, Saban says he believes his former player should have gone in the first 32 picks:
“Normally, statistically, there are two safeties picked in the first round if you look at historical data,” Saban said. “So he should have been a first-round pick based on historical information. And certainly as a player, I think most people had him graded there. I just think sometimes in the draft when there’s an overload at another position, whether it’s receiver or offensive line or whatever it is, that guys don’t always get picked where their grade says.
“So I think this is a really, really good pick for the Giants. Like I tell all our guys here, it’s not where you get picked, it’s what you do with the opportunity that you have. So don’t worry so much about where you get picked, but what you do after you get the opportunity.”
Will McKinney live up to his coach’s praise? We’ll see what role he carves out for himself as a rookie this fall.