Coverage Spacing - He doesn't have elite single high FS range to roam the back end but his football intelligence is top shelf and allows him to shade and attack — he'll often crash the party at the catch point and disrupt targets. Playing him in deep half or as a rat in intermediates will yield plenty of pass disruptions in zone.
Acceleration - He's got pretty fluid click and close, able to really explode on routes breaking off in front of his face. He's fearless stepping down into the alley too. Shows effective closing burst from the nickel to duck into gaps and attack the QB. Simply doesn't have the long speed to play sideline to sideline in single high.
Tackling - Plays with an attitude. More consistent here in 2019 and smacked guys in the mouth all season long. He'll attack the football as opportunities arise but his contact balance and confidence to run the feet and deliver jarring hits has produced effective kill shots on bigger ball carriers. Impressive space tackler.
Zone Coverage Skills - Instinctive. He flows to mirror the eyes of QBs and will excel if he's given free assignments to sucker quarterbacks and bait throws over the middle of the field. He takes good angles and times his arrival and contests at the catch point from overhead leverage with consistency to not draw penalties.
Ball Skills - His hands are feisty at the catch point and he does a good job of raking at the ball when he's a tick late the throw. Hands are soft on tipped balls and throws he's able to undercut in man coverage. Appreciate his nose for the football in all senses, too — he's ripping out the ball on tackles and at the catch point routinely.
Competitive Toughness - Not afraid of contact and love his stickiness as he's carrying routes down the field. His persistence extends to catch point reps, as a tackler and when stacking up blockers in the secondary. Has had success roaming as a sub-package LB as well to step into the second level and fill the run.
Flexibility - Clean mobility throughout his frame. He does well to hinge and open himself into throws and provides good extension skills to combat the ball. His base is dynamic and doesn't show a lot of wasted movement. Reach to spring and explode laterally from flat footed stance is notable as well.
Feet/COD - Appreciate how well he stays balanced. He's not one to hop out of stance prematurely or provided a swinging gate when he's leveraged over the top of routes in coverage. His movement economy is aided by lower body mobility and protects him from drifting at the top of route breaks or taking sloppy transitions.
Man Coverage Skills - Lock down? No, not necessarily. But he's a pest from the trail position and tackled assignments against tight ends down the field. He's got good length to press or disrupt inside the contact window as well before flipping his hips with clean transitions to work into the trail position. Match-up weapon in the MOF.
Versatility - Ask him to do anything. Go ahead. He's a one size fits all defender for some kind of primary role but his football IQ and athletic ability and tackling skills will bring him high reps and snap counts regardless of the sub-package in the NFL. Creative coordinators will get the most out of him by using him with flexibility.
Best Trait - Versatility
Worst Trait - Deep Range
Best Film - LSU (2019)
Worst Film - Clemson (2018)
Red Flags - None
Player Summary - Xavier McKinney can be a game changing defender for an NFL defense. With plus tackling skills in space, strong football IQ and a knack for hunting the football in all phases, McKinney projects as a difference maker and explosive play creator. McKinney's versatility should keep him on the field at all times and he's shown ability to thrive as a deep third or half safety, in the nickel, blitzing as a pressure player, keying the run and more. Do it all defender and plug/play starter.