Xavier McKinney Scouting Report By Charlie Campbell
Tremendous coverage safety
Can play single high safety
Covers a lot of ground
Keeps plays in front of him
Steady at covering receivers over the top
Good vision, eye discipline
Man-coverage ability on tight ends
Man-coverage ability on slot receivers
Asset to defend big receivers
Asset to defend speed receivers downfield
Fluid; can flip his hips and run
Always around the ball
Solid run defender
Interchangeable to play free or strong safety
Should be able to play quickly
Experienced and successful against good college talent
Experience against quality competition
Needs to get stronger to tackle
Could stand to improve his ability to make plays on the ball
Summary: Alabama has been a factory for first-round defensive backs under Nick Saban, and McKinney will continue the tradition in 2020. McKinney broke out in 2018 as Alabama's best defensive back. He totaled 73 tackles with 10 breakups, two interceptions and one forced fumble on the year. He was even better in 2019 and was the best defender on Alabama's defense while totaling 95 tackles with three interceptions, three sacks, five passes defended and four forced fumbles.
In pass coverage, McKinney is a do-it-all safety who it tailor made for today's NFL. He can do anything and everything that pro teams ask of their safeties. McKinney has the man-coverage skills to play cornerback against slot receivers and also play man-to-man on receiving tight ends. With his speed, athleticism and instincts, McKinney does a superb job of running with them and preventing separation. He also can play free safety in the deep part of the field, covering a lot of ground and keeping offenses from getting receivers open deep over the top. McKinney additionally has the ability to cover in zone in the short part of the field, something typically reserved for strong safeties. Defensive coordinators are going to love having McKinney in their secondary because he can be a problem solver.
In the ground game, McKinney is tough and can tackle. While he doesn't have a lot of size or bulk to him, he is a willing tackler and not afraid of taking on backs. McKinney showed real toughness at Alabama and was a solid run defender for the Crimson Tide. It will be interesting to see if McKinney is able to avoid injury in the NFL given his size and the physicality.
McKinney has Pro Bowl potential at the next level and could end up being one of the top free safeties in the league. He could be a plug-and-play starter who quickly emerges as an asset for his defense. Multiple team sources say McKinney is worthy of being a top-20 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Player Comparison: Tyrann Mathieu. Some team sources said McKinney reminded them of Mathieu except McKinney is bigger, taller, and did not make as many splash plays as Mathieu in college. Both, however, are dynamic in coverage with ability to play a variety of positions and techniques to erase mismatches and solve coverage problems.