One player in Giants camp that is flying below the radar is Safety, Xavier McKinney. While the rest of the world marvels over Darren Waller and freaks out over Deonte Banks rookie struggles…Xavier McKinney has just quietly gone about his business.
McKinney was drafted in the 2nd round from Alabama in 2020. He signed a 4 year deal valued at $8,391,046 with $5,789,507 fully guaranteed money. Safety in the NFL in 2023 is like the Running Back position, they fill a vital rolw, yet very undervalued by the market.
The 6′ 201 pound safety needs to be pliable in 2023 with the goal of being indispensable. He has missed 17 games over three years and regardless of an amzing skills set of size, speed, field awareness and leadership qualities, the Giants are going to need a Pro Bowl calibur season from No. 29. During the Jones contract negoiations in January of this year, the McKinney news of switching agents went unnoticed by the masses. He switched from Stellar USA to Athletes First who specializes in cornerback and safety contracts.
This year the Giants look extremly thin on experienced inside linebackers, especially after Jarrad Davis went down in July, landing him on the Injured Reserve list for the year. While there are seven inside linebackers on the current roster, only McFadden and Okereke have any true game experince. Okereke is penciled in as the game one starter and can play in multi looks in the Wink Matindale defense.
Beavers is assured to compete with McFadden for the inside spot and the likes of Carter Coughlin and Cam Brown on the bubble fighting for a roster spot. Could McKinney find himself being forced to play in the box more? That might not be the greatest opportunity for him as he tries to regain his 2021 form where he had 93 tackles and 5 interceptions from the safety position.
In the Box
With a lot to prove in 2023, McKinney’s game will be on display as he helps the Giants chase a back-to-back playoff birth. His ability to tackle in the open field and his physicality could force Winks hand moving McKinney down in the box as other great Giants safeties have done before.
Deon Grant and Antrel Rolle both helped the Giants win the Super Bowl in 2011 with both players dropping down in the box and making enormous defensive plays.
Could XMC be the next “Man in the Box”?