Xavier McKinney hasn’t played a single snap of NFL football, yet that hasn’t stopped the slew of praise from rolling in for Big Blue‘s newest safety. From 3x-Super Bowl-winning NFL exec Charley Casserly pegging him as the single best selection in the entire draft, to former Super Bowl champ Bryant McFadden predicting a historical campaign for the first-year pro, including defensive Rookie of the Year, a Pro Bowl berth and an All-Pro selection. It’s evident expectations are sky-high for the former Alabama standout.
Teaming up McKinney with the highly versatile Jabrill Peppers on the backend of the Giants defense has the makings of quickly becoming one of the league’s very best safety duos. Sean T. McGuire of NESN clearly agrees with that statement, as he’s recently ranked the group as the 9th-best in all of football.
9. New York Giants (Jabrill Peppers, Xavier McKinney, Rashaan Gaulden, Julian Love) The Giants certainly have talent at the position with the addition of McKinney, a second-rounder who was regarded as the top safety in the 2020 class. He’ll join 2017 first-rounder Peppers, who had a productive first season (11 starts) in New York.
Jabrill Peppers Ready for Stardom?
Peppers’ first season in New York was limited due to injury, cutting his 2019 campaign to just 11 games. Still, he showed the type of game-altering ability that made him a must for the Giants to acquire in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade.
Peppers accounted for 76 total tackles, one interception, one defensive touchdown last year. He also hit or tied career highs in passes defended (5), forced fumbles (3) and tackles for loss (5).
He also flexed his multi-facet skillset as a pass-rusher, ranking 3rd in the NFL in quarterback pressures amongst defensive backs through the first 12-weeks of the season, per Pro Football Focus.
The addition of McKinney should allow Peppers to become even more of a menace towards the line of scrimmage in 2020.
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Julian Love, The X-Factor
Love appeared destined to start across from Peppers at safety this coming season. That was before McKinney inexplicably fell into the Giants lap atop Round 2 of the Draft. With McKinney expected to be a day one starter for Big Blue, New York now has the freedom to use their “most underrated” defender in a slew of different positions.
Expect numerous three-safety looks throughout the season. Love also has a tremendous shot of nailing down the starting slot gig, although 4th-round pick Darnay Holmes may have something to say about that.
Love’s 90.7 PFF coverage grade during his final season at Notre Dame, which ranked 3rd best among eligible cornerbacks in the 2019 draft class, also shows he’s no scrub working on the outside either. This could come in clutch for the Giants next season, depending on what happens with DeAndre Baker and his off-the-field issues.