Giants select Alabama S Xavier McKinney in second round of 2020 NFL Draft

Ralph Vacchiano
SNY

With the 36th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Giants decided to pad their secondary by taking Alabama S Xavier McKinney

There was a clear hole there next to S Jabrill Peppers, and McKinney could slot right in as the ballhawk they needed. 

The 6-foot, 201-pound McKinney collected three interceptions with three sacks, 95 tackles (5.5 for loss), five passes defended and four forced fumbles last season.

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A year ago, Dave Gettleman let safety Landon Collins walk out the door in one of his most controversial moves as Giants general manager.

On Friday night, in the second round of the NFL draft, he finally replaced him.

Gettleman took another Alabama safety in McKinney with the fourth pick of the second round, 36th overall. The 6-foot, 201-pounder was thought by many to be the best safety in the draft, and he immediately fills a huge hole in the Giants' rebuilding defense.

And the similarities to Collins are obvious. Five years ago, the Giants took Collins out of Alabama at the top of the second round, even though many had forecast him to go in the first round -- just like McKinney. And both are big, tough players versatile enough to play in the box or as the deep safety. They are playmakers, which obviously the Giants needed on the defensive side of the ball.

The only safety they had that they could rely on was Peppers, who came over a year ago in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade. The other safety spot belonged to rookie Julian Love at the end of last season, but he hardly solidified his place in the starting line with a rocky first year.

He won't get that job back now. McKinney is the kind of weapon in the defensive backfield that most defenses covet these days. He's strong enough to play near the line or cover a tight end, or fast enough to cover good receivers. 

And yes, he surely came with a good recommendation from Tide coach Nick Saban, who is one of new Giants coach Joe Judge's mentors. It was only a matter of time in this draft before the Judge-Saban connection paid off.

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