A versatile defensive back, Xavier McKinney is a likely first-round pick in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft. After playing a number of roles for Nick Saban at Alabama McKinney is ready to step in and right away and boost a team's secondary with this combination of talent, instincts and football IQ.
Xavier McKinney Draft Profile
The latest entry into “positionless” defenders coming up from the college ranks, McKinney not only played a number of roles but also did so in a Nick Saban defense. He’s at his best coming down into the box and attacking. He was used as a nickel linebacker often at Alabama, and his ability to anticipate and find a path to the ball when coming downhill is outstanding. He rarely takes a bad angle. He’s also tremendous as a blitzer, both in his timing and his ability to close fast. He’s a solid wrap-up tackler who will occasionally lay a huge hit. He is a fluid and fast enough mover to line up over the slot; he regularly handled tight ends easily in man coverage and would seem to have the ability to line up against big receivers. He has experience as a center fielder as well; while he’s not a pure burner, his instincts make up for it, giving him solid range. Teams will love his makeup and football IQ.
There are no big weaknesses in McKinney’s game, but he is a little short of an elite mover when it comes to going sideline to sideline or making plays in coverage. Considering how sharp his instincts already are, he might have hit his ceiling.
McKinney is exactly what defenses are looking for in 2020, and as an instinctive, intelligent player who played multiple roles in Saban’s system at Alabama, he should be able to get on the field early. Maybe he doesn’t hold up as a single-high safety, but he can do just about anything else in any scheme, with his best reps coming closer to the line of scrimmage.
Final Grade: 1st round