New Giants Defender Set to ‘Become the Epicenter of Big Blue’s Defense Quickly’

Xavier Mckinney to become the epicenter of the Giants defense

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The New York Giants have made numerous notable moves this offseason in hopes of improving upon the league’s 8th-worst ranked unit in football from a year ago. General Manager Dave Gettleman cut the check in free agency to acquire what the team hopes to be a lockdown corner in ex-Panther James Bradberry, as well as tackling-machine Blake Martinez.

However, both of those notable free-agent additions pale into comparison to the type of hype surrounding Big Blue’s 2nd-round draft pick from last month’s NFL Draft, safety Xavier McKinney.

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Xavier McKinney a Favorite to Win DPOY

We all know how the NFL world feels about McKinney falling to the 2nd day of the draft. It was a steal. The top-ranked safety on essentially everyone’s board carried a top-20 grade according to most draft experts.

The Giants believe they’ve got themselves a future star on the backend of their defense. While Touchdown Wire feels Big Blue may have stumbled upon the potential Defensive Rookie of the Year.

In 2019, McKinney replaced Minkah Fitzpatrick as the do-it-all guy in Nick Saban’s Alabama defense, playing at least 227 snaps in the slot, the box, and at free safety. While he’s athletic enough to play the deep third alone, the Giants would be wise to use him all over the field as Saban did. If so, he’ll become the epicenter of Big Blue’s defense quickly.

More Than Just Your Typical Safety

“He’ll become the epicenter of Big Blue’s defense quickly.” A comment like that certainly details the type of pressure that has been put on the former Alabama standout. However, when you take into consideration McKinney’s ability to impact the game in a multitude of facets, you quickly understand why the expectations are so high for the safety.

Arizona Cardinals 1st-round pick Isaiah Simmons was lauded for his swiss-army knife skill set entering the draft. Yet, McKinney may have been just as versatile during his Bama days, a sentiment noted by Pro Football Focus in their own DPOY candidates article in which the Giants defender ranks seventh.

We all know “Mr. Versatile” to be Isaiah Simmons, but McKinney should be associated with that title as well. There have been only five safeties to play over 450 snaps in the box, slot and at free safety over the past two years, and only one of those five produced 70.0-plus grades at all three of those alignments — Xavier McKinney. He was effective against the run, as a pass-rusher and in coverage, producing grades above 79.0 in all of those facets in each of the last two seasons.