Alabama’s Xavier McKinney Makes Sense if Cowboys go S in Round 1

Alabama’s Xavier McKinney Makes Sense if Cowboys go S in Round 1

The Dallas Cowboys will be looking to upgrade at the safety position this offseason. There are multiple ways they can approach getting this done. One would be the biggest splash, trading for New York Jets safety Jamal Adams, an idea the Cowboys tried to make a reality back in October before the trade deadline. Although that could still be a possibility the most obvious route will be in the draft, and Alabama’s Xavier McKinney would be an excellent addition to the Cowboys secondary.

McKinney’s career at Alabama started off slow with only six tackles in four games back in 2017. It wouldn’t take long for him to make an impact, though, as his sophomore campaign put him on the map with 74 tackles, 10 pass breakups, three sacks, two forced fumbles, and two interceptions as he was one of the defensive leaders that helped Alabama reach the CFP National Championship Game.

In 2019, however, McKinney took his game to another level. He would produce an unreal 95 tackles along with five pass breakups, three interceptions, four forced fumbles, and three sacks. For his efforts, he would be named First-Team All-SEC and raise his stock to the point himself and LSU’s Grant Delpit are the first two safeties expected to go off the board in April’s NFL Draft.

Watch “Alabama Safety Xavier McKinney Highlights 🐘 ᴴᴰ” on YouTube

At 6’1 200 pounds, McKinney has the size you want at safety. His speed allows him to cover speedy receivers deep. You can slide him inside to cover slot receivers, much like the skill set of safety Donovan Wilson the Cowboys drafted in the sixth round in last year’s draft out of Texas A&M. He’s shown the ability to cause turnovers with five interceptions and six forced fumbles, which is something the Cowboys defense has lacked for quite some time.

Strong safety starter Jeff Heath along with backup safety and special teams ace Kavon Frazier are unrestricted free agents. While both could easily be retained, there is the possibility that a hole will need to be filled, added to the fact that the permanent long-term starter opposite Xavier Woods hasn’t been established, McKinney seems like an ideal fit.

Xavier McKinney scouting report by Charlie Campbell via WalterFootball.com 

Strengths:

  • Instinctive
  • Tremendous coverage safety
  • Can play single-high safety
  • Covers a lot of ground
  • Keeps play 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
  • An asset to defend big receivers
  • An asset to defend speed receivers downfield
  • Fluid; can flip his hips and run
  • Always around the ball
  • Solid run defender
  • Very tough
  • Willing tackler
  • Interchangeable to play free or strong safety
  • Should be able to play quickly
  • Experienced and successful against good college talent
  • Versatile
  • Experience against quality competition

 

 

Weaknesses:

  • Thinner frame
  • Needs to get stronger to tackle
  • Could stand to improve his ability to make plays on the ball

 

The Cowboys have several holes to fill in the draft, mainly defensively. If safety is the pick at 17, Xavier McKinney is a name to keep an eye on.

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