Grant Delpit this, and Grant Delpit that. Put it to rest, Alabama football safety Xavier McKinney is the top safety in the 2020 NFL Draft class.
Xavier McKinney is a name you need to respect.
The Alabama safety decided to cut his collegiate career short and enter the 2020 NFL Draft after a fantastic body of work for the Crimson Tide as a junior, and enters the pre-draft cycle as the top rated safety in this year’s crop.
In this space, McKinney edges out LSU’s Grant Delpit to steal the crown atop the safety class after Delpit failed to live up to the preseason hype. While Delpit played through an injury this year and had his abilities hampered, McKinney rose to the occasion and showed up all over the stat sheet.
Three interceptions, five passes defended, four forced fumbles, three sacks and five tackles for loss; McKinney moved sideline-to-sideline for the Crimson Tide. A versatile weapon, McKinney can become the ultimate chess piece at the next level as he has the ability to stack the box, play at nickel or over the top.
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A former four-star recruit, McKinney saw two years as a starting safety for Alabama, where he put his elite read-and-react timing on display. McKinney’s ability to recognize what is happening, then click and close downhill on the play separates him from the rest of the class.
The intelligence McKinney plays with pops off the screen when watching tape as he always seems to be in the correct position, maintaining the responsibilities he is tasked with. McKinney knows his run fits and how to fill lanes correctly, leaving little room for running backs to make it past the second or third level of the defense.
While his range over the top may be a bit capped off, McKinney still has plenty of speed to cover ground as an umbrella in the assistance of his cornerbacks. The top safety in the 2020 draft class is no slouch in man coverage either, flashing the ability to compete with tight ends and running backs in man coverage as well.
The Georgia native is always hunting for the ball and seems to have a scent for pigskin as he forced seven turnovers for the Crimson Tide in 2019. Level-headed, smart, and cerebral, instincts like McKinney’s are hard to come by, making him an elite prospect in this year’s crop of safeties.
Disclaimer to any team interested in McKinney: you’ll need to grab him early because he won’t be around much longer than the top-20. Molded well by the Alabama football program, McKinney will become an asset to his new team this upcoming April.