Xavier McKinney, drafted 36th overall in Round 2 by the New York Giants on Friday, told reporters over a Zoom call that considers himself a “DB” rather than a safety. He feels he can play safety, corner, nickel, slot nickel, anywhere.
“I like doing it all,” said McKinney. “I like playing as many positions as I can on the field. I just like making plays for my teammates and helping my team be successful.
“As far as what I can provide for the team, it really is whatever coach wants me to do.”
What also became clear during the Zoom call was that the Alabama connection played a role in the Giants landing their new safety.
Head coach Joe Judge was a special teams assistant at Alabama from 2009 to 2011, long before McKinney got there, and has a good relationship with ‘Bama coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide coaching staff.
In fact, previously Judge had told a story from when he was scouting some Alabama players two years ago. He remembered the impression that McKinney left on him in practice, a guy who was all over the field.
And at Alabama, McKinney said it wasn’t like he was playing against great receivers every Saturday and then going up against the team’s best receiver in practice every day.
Instead, he competed against two first-round picks in Henry Ruggs III and Jerry Jeudy, every day.
“In the NFL, there’s going to be good receivers week in and week out. It helps, it helped me prepare and get ready for this moment,” said McKinney.
The young safety also feels that he can thrive in Judge’s environment in New York, certainly if it’s similar to Saban’s structured environment in Tuscaloosa.
“It’s never been a problem for me, it wasn’t a problem when I went into school as a freshman. I actually love having that structure and having that strict almost tight ship being ran by the coaches,” he said.
“I’ll do whatever it takes to be able to win games and anything I can to help.”
McKinney shurgged off the 4.63 40-yard dash time he ran at the combine, saying “I really don’t care that much about the 40 anyways.”
“The time that I ran at the combine, that was a fake time. I caught cramps before I actually ran. That was actually my worst time throughout the whole process. My best time was a 4.52 when I was training,” said McKinney.
“I think like I’ve said before, my tape says it all.”