PFF names Xavier McKinney among second-year breakout candidates
Xavier McKinney's rookie season was delayed after a foot injury suffered during training camp forced him to miss the first 10 games of the season. The young defensive back was able to return following the Week 11 bye and showed enough on the field to garner some positive buzz heading into the 2021 season.
Pro Football Focus' Zach Tantillo put together a selection of his top second-year breakout candidates, and cracking the list is none other than the Giants safety.
In his six games (four starts) last year, the safety out of Alabama registered 25 tackles (14 solo), one tackle for loss, one interception and one pass defended. He capped off his rookie campaign with a game-sealing interception of Cowboys QB Andy Dalton in Week 17 to secure the victory for the Giants.
The Giants selected McKinney in the second round (36th overall) of the 2020 NFL Draft. While at Alabama, the safety earned First-Team All-SEC honors in 2019 and was named the Defensive MVP of the 2018 Orange Bowl. He was also part of Alabama's 2017 CFP National Championship team.
McKinney joins Jabrill Peppers, Logan Ryan, James Bradberry, Adoree' Jackson and numerous others in a Giants secondary that PFF recently ranked among the best in the NFL.
View photos of safety Xavier McKinney in action.
Mailbag: NFC East ratings, tight end roles
Abe in Florida: With all the new additions, many fans feel the Giants are good for 9-10 wins. How can they currently be rated third in the NFC East?
John Schmeelk: Who is doing the rating? It should always be the first question everyone asks. The best advice is to either ignore any power rankings in June before training camp starts, or just don't take them seriously. At such an early stage, you can't even call something like this a prediction; rather consider it more of a guess.
There are strong plausible arguments for the Giants, Cowboys or the Washington Football Team to win the NFC East. Dallas has the best quarterback and depth of veteran talent across their offense. Washington's defense was a top unit last year, and the young defensive line may only improve. The Giants, meanwhile, have a strong defense and a young core on offense that could become a strong unit given all the perimeter weapons added this off-season. It's also important not to discount Philly, who can be tough if Jalen Hurts has a strong sophomore season.
In other words, it's June. Don't worry about the predictions of other people. Soon, everyone will know which team is the class of the division.
Anthony in Pennsylvania: Will Evan Engram see less snaps with the addition of Kyle Rudolph?
John Schmeelk: Rudolph's addition won't likely impact Engram's snaps, but you can expect his signing to impact the snaps of fellow tight ends Kaden Smith and Levine Toilolo. Although Engram and Rudolph can both catch the football, Engram has more field-stretching speed and big-play ability that's unlikely to be taken off the field very often.
With training camp here, view photos of every move made by the Giants this offseason.
Kyle Rudolph, Evan Engram join Giants Huddle podcast
Check out the audio below to listen to Giants.com's John Schmeelk interview tight ends Evan Engram and Kyle Rudolph about the upcoming season on the Giants Huddle podcast.
0:38 Kyle Rudolph Interview
4:32 Evan Engram Interview
8:46 Engram on the offense