Name: Xavier McKinney - Position: S
Height: 6'0" - Weight: 201 lbs
Pro ceiling: Budda Baker
Analyst : Tyler Habursky - @TylerHabursky
Xavier McKinney can play so many roles for a defense. In his sophomore and junior seasons, Saban used him all over the place and put a lot of trust in him to operate the defense. This past season he seemed to have really stepped up as a leader for the Crimson Tide. He played nickel, both safeties, and dime backer. McKinney is a very smart player and is very quick to diagnose and react to routes. He’s so instinctive in zone coverage and explosive enough to drive on underneath routes so being used in mid zones is probably his best usage. Alabama was forced to start two freshman at linebacker this year and McKinney took it upon himself mid game to mask their mistakes on his own. You have to admire McKinney’s ability as a tackler. If you’re going to be used in the box, like McKinney will be, you have to be able to tackle. Besides a few misses against LSU, McKinney was quietly one of the best tackers in the nation. Driving through contact and closing space between him in the ball carrier is not a problem for McKinney. Once he’s confident he’ll make the tackle he tries to get a hand in there to knock the ball out and it worked a few times. He also can stick in man coverage: even though he doesn’t have cornerback-esque athleticism, he has pretty solid technique for a safety and will be a great TE and RB neutralizer.
With all of the roles that McKinney can fill, the one he is weakest at would be playing as a single high free safety. He just doesn’t have that range on the back end to be an elite playmaker. Along with that, I do wish he had better ball skills even though he had solid ball production at Alabama. Finally, the reason he may fall a bit is because of his testing numbers and even though he pulled up in his 40, he isn’t the most elite athlete.
Games Watched: Ole Miss (2018), Duke (2019), Texas A&M (2019), LSU (2019), Auburn (2019)
When it comes down to it, Xavier McKinney is a do it all player and a guy I want on my defense. He’s shown he can play so many different roles on defense by spending time at both safety spots, nickel, and dime backer at Alabama, similarly to my comp for him, Budda Baker. McKinney is the best tackler in this class of the safety group and is so versatile in coverage too. At Alabama he covered up a lot of their mistakes and some team is going to be lucky to bring in the best safety in the class to make their defense much better.
Best Fits: Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles