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Packers’ Xavier McKinney ranked as NFL’s fourth-best safety entering 2024

Doug Farrar of Touchdown Wire ranked Xavier McKinney of the Green Bay Packers as the NFL’s fourth-best safety entering the 2024 season, trailing only Kyle Hamilton, Antoine Winfield Jr. and Jabril Peppers on the list.

The Packers signed McKinney away from the New York Giants on a four-year deal worth over $16 million per season during free agency.

From Farrar:

McKinney will be especially valuable to his new team as a free-range guy in the deep third who can match and trail on deep routes, and can roam from the middle of the field to either boundary for breakups and interceptions…Doubling McKinney’s importance is his knack for working receivers all the way through their routes as a short and intermediate defender. From press to box, McKinney knows how to get sticky in any kind of coverage.

What helped elevate McKinney was his incredible mix of versatility — aligning from multiple spots on the field — and reliability, especially as a tackler and in coverage.

Last season, McKinney ranked as the fourth-best safety by overall grade at Pro Football Focus. He was No. 3 in tackling grade and No. 1 in coverage grade. McKinney delivered 26 stops and three interceptions while not allowing a touchdown pass in coverage, missing only seven tackles and committing only three penalties.

The Packers signed McKinney to be the centerpiece of the new safety room under defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley. He’ll likely be joined by rookie Javon Bullard and 2023 seventh-round pick Anthony Johnson Jr., but McKinney will be the expected playmaker for a secondary with a lot of talent.

“He is a dude, and we are fortunate to have him,” coach Matt LaFleur said last week.

McKinney, 24, was a second-round pick out of Alabama in the 2020 draft. He played every defensive snap from scrimmage for the Giants last season.

Story originally appeared on Packers Wire