Xavier McKinney Speaks Out on Young Giants Core

Getty Xavier McKinney will look to be a leader in year three

New York Giants safety Xavier McKinney is just 22 years old. But as he enters his third season in the NFL, he has already become a voice for this defense. With the departure of several key players in the secondary, McKinney will be stepping into a key role this season. 

McKinney underwent a true breakout during last season. After being limited to just six games throughout his rookie year, he appeared in all 17 in 2021. He finished the season with 93 total tackles, 10 passes defended, five interceptions, and one touchdown. 

After a few turbulent seasons, the Giants decided to move on from many of their decision-makers. They are now headlined by a duo of general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll.

The Giants have put together intriguing young talent on both sides of the ball. Kayvon Thibodeaux, Azeez Ojulari, and McKinney will headline the defense. The offensive side consists of Evan Neal, Andrew Thomas, Kadarius Toney, and Wan’dale Robinson as the young pillars. Running back Saquon Barkley and quarterback Daniel Jones could now be considered the veterans of the offense. All of these players will be expected to be foundational pieces for the future of this franchise.

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In a July 23 interview, McKinney spoke with Steve Serby of the New York Post, talking about the young group that the Giants have put together. Key players on both offense and defense were the topic of discussion. 

McKinney on the New Giants Defense

McKinney specifically spoke about the young defensive core that the Giants have slowly put together. 

When asked about Thibodeaux, McKinney had this to say, “He was back there a lot in OTAs. I like watching him do his thing. He’s been a great rook so far. We just gotta make sure that he brings them snacks come camp time. We love him, he’s definitely got a lot of character in him, but that’s what we want and that’s what we need, honestly.”

For a Giants defensive front that will rely heavily on Thibodeaux, alongside Ojulari and Leonard Williams, McKinney’s comments should excite fans of the franchise. 

McKinney was also asked about his fellow members of the secondary. When talking about LSU rookie Cor’Dale Flott, McKinney said, “What I love about a rookie or a younger player is when they get out there with the 1s and they communicate. And that’s what I saw from Day 1 with him. He was very vocal when he got out there, and even if he didn’t quite know what to do, he wasn’t afraid to ask.”

McKinney’s thoughts on rookie safety Dane Belton are also worth noting. He brought up potential similarities between the two of them. “That’s almost like my brother, I feel like already. I’ve been just pushing him in everything as far as watching film, coming out of his breaks better, everything. I pretty much nitpick with him just because I know how good he can be. A lot of what I see in him now is kind of how I was when I was a rookie, how I felt like I was talent-wise, and I think he’s got the same ability, the same skill set.”

If the Giants have found another McKinney in Belton, this secondary will be set for the foreseeable future.

McKinney’s Thoughts on Giants Young Playmakers

McKinney went on to speak about several offensive players. Kadarius Toney, Evan Neal, and Wan’Dale Robinson were all mentioned. 

There were two comments said that could excite Giants fans. When talking about Robinson, McKinney said, “Obviously, I got to play with Waddle in college, and he was the closest thing that I’ve seen to Waddle, just his explosiveness, how he moves, how he runs his routes, how fast he is, how quick he is.” Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle has already become one of the most dynamic young pass catchers in the NFL. If Robinson can replicate that, the Giants could have a hidden gem

When discussing Toney, McKinney spoke about his style of play. “It’s like he can do everything. He can juke you out of your shoes. He can run past you, he runs good routes, he’s in and out of his breaks really fast. There’s nothing that you really can’t do with this dude. It’s only like a few dudes that I’ve seen like him. He’s a different breed for sure.”

McKinney’s praise of his teammates on both sides of the ball should be a sign of encouragement. Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen have assembled a group that should be both exciting to watch, and competitive.

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