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Dave Gettleman, Joe Judge explain why the Giants drafted Alabama safety Xavier McKinney

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Giants get the center fielder they needed

Alabama v Louisville Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

How badly did the New York Giants want Alabama safety Xavier McKinney with the 36th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft? Badly enough that GM Dave Gettleman, without another pick until No. 99 near the end of Round 3, rejected an offer to move down from 36 and collect additional picks in order to take McKinney.

“We had made up our mind that if Xavier fell to us we were taking him,” Gettleman said. “We did have something if Xavier had been gone we did have a team willing to move up and we would have moved back. But, we felt the value of getting Xavier there was just too good to pass up.

“We had a first-round value on him, and we’re absolutely thrilled to get him. He’s a great kid. He’s smart, he plays smart, he lines up the back end for us, he’s versatile, you can put him down low, he can cover tight ends, he’s got ball skills, and he’s a good tackler.”

After watching Curtis Riley and Antoine Bethea struggle in the single-high safety capacity the past two seasons, Gettleman said the Giants wanted to find a player who could handle that role.

“He certainly is versatile, but one of the important things for us this year was getting a safety that could play the deep part of the field,” Gettleman said. “Xavier has certainly played back there enough that we feel very comfortable about that part of his game.”

Coach Joe Judge spoke about McKinney’s range of skills sets.

“That’s going to allow us to use all of our players in different ways because of his versatility,” Judge said. “It will complement everybody else on the roster.”

The Giants have now spent considerable draft and free agent cpaital on the secondary since Gettleman arrived after the 2017 season.

“You can never have enough DBs,” Gettleman said. “We’re putting together I think a very talented young group that has the ability to play football at the NFL level, but we’ve just got to get ‘em rolling.

Waiting for the 99th pick

Gettleman said he would “have to see how the board falls” when asked about trying to move up to get a pick before the Giants next turn at No. 99, 63 picks after they selected McKinney.

One thing Gettleman said he would not do is dip into the Giants’ pool of 2021 draft picks in an effort to make a move. The Giants do have four seventh-round picks, but it’s questionable as to whether those would have enough value to help engineer a trade somewhere into Round 3.

“We’re gonna sit for a while,” Gettleman said. “If we move up we’re not going to dip into next year’s draft class. We’re going to sit here and be patient and just see how the board falls and we’ll make a decision.”