DB Xavier McKinney, Alabama*

6’1” – 200 lbs.

Was a reserve and special-teams contributor as a freshman, finishing with eight tackles, then took over a starting role the following season, a year in which he finished with 74-6.0-3.0, ten breakups, and two interceptions. Saw his stats improve to 95-5.5-3.0 with five breakups and three interceptions the following season. Two of his career interceptions were returned for touchdowns, and he also forced six fumbles and blocked a kick over the past two seasons. Has a solid build for a pro defensive back, with good size and length. Was asked to help make a lot of the defensive calls at Alabama and appears to be an effective pre-snap communicator. Defensive responsibilities were pretty varied; would play in zones or even spy opposing quarterbacks from closer to the line of scrimmage, but was usually working as a high safety in zone coverages. Can also drop down and pattern-match or play man coverage against opposing targets; able to turn and run downfield and does a good job of using his hands to feel routes developing. Has enough speed to carry opponents down the field or patrol in zone; probably best classified as a solid but not elite athlete. Looks comfortable backpedaling, with solid balance and pretty clean footwork. Demonstrates good awareness of his responsibilities when diagnosing route combinations. Manages to balance aggressiveness and conservatism effectively, playing within the defense and handling his responsibilities without giving up too many easy throws by playing far off of opposing receivers and tight ends. On-ball production was solid over the past two years, with good awareness and the length to break up passes when targeted. When defending against a throw or coming up to support the run, ability to plant and drive is pretty impressive. Takes sound angles to the ball, closes fast, and can generate plenty of pop on contact to help set the tone defensively; would like to see more consistent wrap technique, though. Loves to come up and deliver big hits on opposing ballcarriers, although it’s possible some teams may worry about the toll such a playing style may have on his long-term durability. May not be quite an elite athlete, but checks pretty much all the boxes as a responsible safety with a good feel for the game, polished technique, and a physical approach to the game. Looks like a pretty safe bet to be a starter sooner rather than later; consequently, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him come off the board in the first round on draft day.

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