The Giants concluded Day Two of the 2020 NFL Draft by adding Alabama safety Xavier McKinney with the 36th overall pick in the second round and University of Connecticut offensive tackle Matt Peart with their 99th overall compensatory pick in the third round.
McKinney is a safety who did a little bit of everything for Alabama as one of its most important defensive playmakers. He was named a second team All-American and first team All-SEC in 2019, his final year as a junior. In 2018, he was named Defensive MVP of the Orange Bowl in the Crimson Tide's 45-34 win over Oklahoma.
Mckinney's value at 36 made the difference.
"The first thing I'll tell you is we had made up our mind that if Xavier fell to us, we were taking him," said General Manager Dave Gettleman. "So, we did have something. If Xavier had been gone, we did have a team willing to move up and we would've moved back. But we felt the value of getting Xavier there was just too good to pass up."
According to Pro Football Focus, in 2019, McKinney played 291 snaps in the box, 232 in the slot, and 282 at free safety. Wherever McKinney lined up he was always around the ball. He led the team in tackles with 95. He had five interceptions and five forced fumbles his last two seasons. He also averaged 20.2 yards per interception return with two touchdowns.
"I like doing it all," McKinney said. "I like playing as many positions as I can on the field. I just like making plays for my teammates and helping my team be successful."
Neither McKinney nor Giants head coach Joe Judge indicated what role he would be used in most frequently with the Giants. At Alabama, he played as a single high safety, two high safety, in the box as a strong safety or sub-package linebacker, and in the slot covering wide receivers and tight ends. His ability to play multiple positions gives a versatile piece to defensive coordinator Patrick Graham in his defense.
"I just think with his versatility," said Judge, "and what he's shown of what he's been able to do, play in the deep part of the field, play in the box, be used in coverage on slot receivers, be used in blitz packages, he's shown a range in what he's able to do. That's going to allow us to use all of our players in different ways. Because of his versatility, that will complement everybody else on the roster as his strengths shake out."
View photos of the entire 10-member New York Giants 2020 Draft Class
McKinney and 2019 fourth-round pick Julian Love will give Graham options on a play by play or game by game basis.
"He can play corner," Judge said. "He can play in the slot and he can play back deep as a safety. We are going to use him as we need by each game plan. He may be an every-down safety, he may be an-every down corner."
McKinney ran a 4.63 40 yard dash at the NFL combine after dealing with cramps before running, but he told the media he ran a 4.52 in his training after the college season was over. Neither McKinney nor the Giants front office were concerned with his 40-yard dash time.
"It's about how he carries his pads," Gettleman said. "It's not what he does in his underwear on a track, it's play speed."
"The time that I ran at the combine, that was a fake time," McKinney said. "I caught cramps before I actually ran. That was actually my worst time throughout the whole process. My best time was a 4.52 when I was training. If I got to do the pro day, I thought I was going to run a good time. I'm not too worried about the 40. That's why I didn't run it again. I knew my tape said it all and I didn't have anything to prove running the 40. There was no reason for me to do that."
There were no concerns around the league with Matt Peart's performance at the NFL Combine. His 36 5/8 inch-arms were the longest of any NFL tackle. His 10-yard split (1.75 seconds) was in the 90th percentile among offensive tackles. His 9'5" broad jump was in the 93rd percentile amongst tackles.
Peart has the ideal length and athletic traits for an offensive tackle. Line coaches Marc Colombo and Ben Wilkerson will have the opportunity to develop him into a starter in the future.
"He's athletic and he's long and we think he has a lot of upside for a young kid," Gettleman said. "He's a guy that the coaching staff really wanted to work with."
"He definitely has a lot of upside," Judge said. "I don't want to say he is developmental, but he is developing. He has a tremendous work ethic and great attitude. I think we'll see a lot better football in the future than we've seen with him already and that's what makes us really excited to work with the guys we are bringing in."
Peart was a high school basketball player who still has room to grow physically.
"It's rare to describe someone that is 315 pounds as skinny, but that's what he is," Judge said. "He's an athletic guy with a lot of length to him. We feel good about his character and work ethic."
Peart will be given the opportunity to use his talent and traits to turn himself into starting offensive tackle one day.
Here Are Some of the Highest Rated Players at Positions of Need by Analysts Heading Into Day Three Of The Draft
- Nick Harris – Center – Washington
- Tyler Biadasz – Center – Wisconsin
- John Simpson – Guard – Clemson
- Shane Lemieux – Guard – Oregon
- Harrison Bryant – TE – FAU
- Gabriel Davis – WR – UCF
- Antonio Gandy-Golden – WR – Liberty
- Isaiah Hodgins – WR – Oregon State
- KJ Hill – WR – Ohio State
- Collin Johnson – WR – Texas
- Bradlee Anae – Edge – Utah
- Curtis Weaver – Edge – Boise State
- Khalid Kareem – Edge – Notre Dame
- Akeem Davis Gaither – LB – Appalachian State
- Troy Dye – LB – Oregon
- Amik Robertson – CB – Louisiana Tech
- Bryce Hall – CB – Virginia
- Josiah Scott – CB – Michigan State
- K'Von Wallace – S/CB – Clemson
- L'Jarius Sneed – S/CB - Lousiana Tech
NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah's best remaining prospects from his Top 150 ranking of the 2020 NFL Draft.