New York Giants safety Xavier McKinney is set to enter his third NFL season in 2022 after he was drafted. 36 overall in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft out of Alabama. With spring practices and OTA’s now in the rearview mirror, Giants team reporter Matt Citak tabbed McKinney as the team’s highlight from spring practices on the defensive side of football.
On the other side of the ball, the player who turned heads is also one of the players most people are excited to see in Wink Martindale’s defense – Xavier McKinney, ”Citak wrote. “The young safety was getting his hands on the ball during team drills in almost every practice. McKinney recorded several interceptions throughout 11-on-11 drills, and forced even more incompletions. He led the Giants with five interceptions last season, and his ability to find the ball was easy to see throughout the spring. Martindale’s defense with the Ravens had a track record of producing some strong seasons from its safeties, which could bode well for McKinney. “
Last season, in 17 games, McKinney totaled 93 tackles, 10 pass breakups and five interceptions. In three seasons and 32 career games at Alabama, McKinney finished with 108 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, six sacks, 15 pass breakups, six forced fumbles, five interceptions and two touchdowns.
Prior to Alabama, McKinney was a 247Sports Composite four-star recruit out of Roswell, Georgia. He was also the No. 58-ranked overall player and the No. 6-ranked safety in the recruiting class of 2017.
The Giants will enter the 2022 season with a new defensive coordinator in Wink Martindale. Martindale most recently served as the Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator for four seasons from 2018-21. McKinney recently talked about what it was like to play for Martindale.
“Oh, (with) Wink, it’s really fun,” McKinney said. “I think we’re all enjoying it. You know, just so much aggression. It’s just giving us energy. We’re able to go out there and play without worrying about making mistakes, so it’s just giving us a lot of freedom to Just go play, go attack and be the playmakers that we have on our defense. It’s been fun and we’ve loved every bit of it. “
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McKinney also talked about what the focal point of Martindale’s defense is.
“Yeah, like I said, we love it because ultimately as a defense, that’s what we want to do,” McKinney said. “We want to make the offense make mistakes, not us wait for them to make mistakes, so we want them to make a mistake off of what we do and how we bring that aggression towards them.”