2020 NFL draft profile: Xavier McKinney is a versatile, Day 1 starter


Xavier McKinney, a two-year starter at Alabama, is an unusually productive and versatile prospect who’ll be able to step in and start in the NFL from Day 1.

McKinney is listed as a safety, but Alabama defensive coordinator Pete Golding used him all over the field – on the line of scrimmage, in the slot and at free safety. He was productive in all those roles, racking up five interceptions, two TD returns, six sacks, five forced fumbles and 11 tackles for loss over the last two years.

There’s no such thing as a can’t-miss prospect, but McKinney is a smart, smooth, tough defender and a natural leader. He’s played consistently productive football at the highest level and other than maybe sub-par hands he’s got the whole package.

Current roster at S: After cutting ties with Malcolm Jenkins, the Eagles signed Rodney McLeod to a two-year contract and Jalen Mills and Will Parks to one-year deals, but they don’t have any safeties signed beyond 2021, so even though McLeod and Mills are penciled in as starters, a lot could change in the very near future. 

How he would fit: McKinney’s versatility is right up Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s alley. Schwartz loves so-called positionless defensive backs who he can move all over the field depending on the opponent, the down and distance and especially the matchup. Schwartz did that all the time with Malcolm Jenkins, and McKinney would give him the same sort of flexibility. McKinney would also give Schwartz the elite blitzer he’s never had here.

Eagles' history at S in draft: The Eagles have never taken a safety in the first round of the draft. They haven’t drafted a safety in the first three rounds since Jaiquawn Jarrett in the second round in 2011. The last safety they drafted who became a regular starter is Nate Allen, a second-round pick in 2010. The Eagles drafted Pro Bowl safeties in 1969 (Bill Bradley in the 3rd round), 1983 (Wes Hopkins in the 2nd round), 1996 (Brian Dawkins in the 2nd round) and 2002 (Michael Lewis in the 2nd round). The last pure safety they drafted was Blake Countess out of Michigan in the 6th round in 2016.

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