The last thing the New York Giants‘ secondary needed was to take more hits. However, on Wednesday that’s exactly what happened.
The Giants have announced that 2020 second-round draft pick and projected starting free safety, Xavier McKinney, has suffered a fracture to his left foot. The 2019 first-team All-Sec selection is scheduled to undergo surgery late afternoon on Wednesday at the Hospital for Special Surgery. Foot specialist Dr. Martin O’Malley is slated to perform the procedure.
According to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan, there is hope that McKinney’s rookie season is not completely lost and that he can return later this year.
If McKinney’s injury wasn’t a big enough pill to swallow for Giants faithful, there’s more crushing news. Six-year veteran David Mayo, who made 13 starts at linebacker for Big Blue in 2019, has a torn meniscus in his left knee and is scheduled for surgery on Thursday.
How Do the Giants Replace McKinney?
While the loss of McKinney is certainly a painful one for a Giants secondary, thankfully their safety position is well-equipped to handle the blow.
Second-year pro Julian Love, who was already expected to play a significant role on Big Blue’s defense this coming season as a hybrid cornerback/safety, is the most obvious candidate to fill the void left behind by McKinney.
Love, a former college cornerback, shined in his transition to safety during his rookie season. The 2018 consensus All-American started the final five games of 2019 for the Giants in place of an injured Jabrill Peppers. The play he put forth over that span was more than serviceable, to say the least.
On the year, Love compiled a grand total of 37 tackles on a 92% tackle success rate, five TFL, three pass breakups and one interception. Furthermore, his abilities in the box were near-elite. Love earned the ninth-best Pro Football Focus grade in the box amongst all safeties, including allowing just 19 yards on 80 coverage snaps at that alignment.
Love finished his rookie campaign as Pro Football Focus’ No. 13 ranked rookie in all of football.
Love notably stated earlier this offseason, “I want to be the safety of the future for the Giants.” Well, there’s no better time than now for the Westchester, Illinois native to put those words into existence.
Fallout From David Mayo’s Injury?
By losing Mayo, the Giants lose one of, if not their most consistent defender from a season ago.
In his first season with the Giants, Mayo appeared in all 16 games, finishing with career-highs in tackles (82), tackles for loss (5) and sacks (2). His 90.7 PFF run-defense grade by Christmas Eve ranked second amongst all NFL linebackers.
Mayo was battling for a starting spot opposite of free-agent addition Blake Martinez in the Giants’ base defense. Ryan Connelly would appear to be the next man up in New York. However, the second-year linebacker has been dealing with injuries himself, as he missed practice on Tuesday.
Ultimately, Mayo’s injury and Connelly’s lack of availability may open the door for Devante Downs to claim the starting job. The former Minnesota Viking has been “getting serious looks” during training camp and appears to be constantly growing on the coaching staff.
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