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23 Days of Draftmas: Alabama safety Xavier McKinney

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On the tenth day of Draftmas my Kansas City Chiefs gave to me, a versatile and high IQ DB

NFL Combine - Day 4 Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

A very merry Draftmas to you! We continue our tradition of profiling an NFL Draft prospect every day in April, leading up to the NFL Draft on April 23rd. Every day, you’ll get a prospect profile that includes how they would fit with the Kansas City Chiefs.


The Kansas City Chiefs appear to be set at the safety position going into 2020, as they had four individuals at the position play over 45% of the snaps in 2019.

One of those players — Kendall Fuller — started the entire playoffs and has now moved on to the Washington Redskins. The Chiefs might see a need to replace Fuller, improve on third safety Daniel Sorensen, or simply find a safety to be the best player available when it’s their turn to pick.

The Chiefs defense had a lot of success disguising coverages and rotating players post-snap, so adding another safety that can play in the slot, deep and in the box could help set up a Bermuda Triangle of pass defense in the middle of the field.

Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama

College Football Playoff National Championship Presented By AT&T - Alabama v Clemson Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

6’1” 201lbs - Rosswell, GA - 8/8/99

Grade (round): 2nd

Draft Range: Round 1

40 time: 4.63

NFL Combine: 36” vertical, 10’2” broad, 19 bench

2019 Stats: 5 PBU, 3 INT, 95 tackles, 5 TFL

Background: Four-star recruit out of Georgia who played on special teams as a reserve as a freshman. Earned a starting job as a sophomore and named to the Sporting News and Walter Camp All-American second team as a junior. Was a semi-finalist for the Thorpe award.

Strengths: McKinney is a versatile safety that has played in every role in the secondary besides boundary corner. He looks the most comfortable playing in the slot or in the box, where he went as far as to call Alabama’s defensive fronts. He is able to utilize his high football IQ and play diagnosis skills. In underneath zones, McKinney explodes through receivers at the catch point and plays top-down. Despite being the biggest player, he shows a willingness to stick his nose between the tackles. He shows fluid change-of-direction skills and physical play to excel in man coverage against running backs and slot wide receivers. McKinney can kick back and play deep coverage and provide an enforcer in the second level as a big hitter. More than willing to come downhill and deliver big hits and play behind the line of scrimmage.

Weaknesses: McKinney wasn’t asked to play a ton of deep safety over the years for Alabama and may lack the elite range teams look for out of a center fielder. He is at his best as a split-field safety, utilizing his aggression and instincts rather than working over the top of the entire field. He will come downhill aggressively and occasionally come in too high to the tackle, ultimately sliding off of it. Bigger wide receivers and tight ends can give McKinney trouble at the catch point because of his superior length and size.

How he fits with the Chiefs: While the Chiefs are set at starting safety with Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill, Kansas City saw heavy utilization out of their reserves all year. Whether injury-related or sub-package usage, there were plenty of snaps for extra defensive backs, and they weren’t reserved just for cornerbacks. McKinney provides a similar skill set to Mathieu in terms of versatility and his football IQ. The Chiefs could use McKinney as both a secondary slot defender and a dime linebacker. Spagnuolo heavily utilized disguised coverage in his secondary, and McKinney would add another level to the mind games.

Player comp: Budda Baker


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