FS/SS grades can and will change as more information comes in from Pro Day workouts, Wonderlic test results leaked, etc. We will update info as it becomes available.


Our Quick Hit (QH) scouting reports are a modified/shorter version of our full-scale reports. On these Quick Hits, I look at a lesser amount of tape and write a shorter amount of flowy words – these are usually designed more for sleeper prospects that I want to get more acquainted with and if something really jumps out, I’ll go deeper. It’s just me trying to get in and get out and deliver the pertinent notes to you for your consideration and for review later if they start to make waves in a year or two.

I’ll do a chunk of these pre-Draft and then more after the Draft, going through the players that caught my attention in the draft (because of how high they were taken) or that I stumble across in training camp or the preseason that catch my eye.

Most of my notes on these Quick Hits will be short and sweet bullet points versions of our full-scale reports. Enjoy…


My first scouting tape impression of Xavier McKinney was kind of a shoulder shrug, and more of a ‘here we go again with another hyped-up Alabama name, for the sake of ‘Alabama’. He then had a weak showing at the NFL Combine, and then I definitely saw no reason to get excited.

At the same time, the world was pushing him as the clear #1 safety in the 2020 NFL Draft and sure enough he was the first safety taken in the draft (albeit #36 overall).

McKinney was not in our top 10 ranked safety prospects for the 2020 NFL Draft but was THE clear #1 for the football analysts, so with that divergence I wanted to go back through and cross-check myself. I watched a few more game tapes and researched more background, and here are my scouting session notes…


 -- A smart player…versus an athletic one. What he lacks in speed/physical tools he makes up for some of it in anticipation and vision. His first steps towards the action are usually smart/the right ones…he doesn’t get caught flat-footed or always backpedaling or always charging forward. His movements are very smart.

 -- However, he has nice instincts…but is lacking when it is time to make plays. Not a great tackler, but adequate. Can get run over trying tackles backs coming out off a screen pass. If not run over/through, then just juked and left grasping air on the ground. He has more of a free safety vibe than a strong safety vibe. His NFL athleticism is lower-end.

 -- He can cover receivers pretty well in college because he does have the good instincts…but if he comes across an NFL-level speedster he’s going to have trouble keeping up with 4.6+ speed. His footwork and IQ give him like a 4.5+ speed ability…and that’s very average for NFL DBs.

 -- McKinney moved into a linebacker role a decent amount of time against better passing teams (like LSU 2019), but it was more to cover RBs on potential dump offs, screens, etc. Against LSU, when Clyde Edwards-Helaire got passes and started to work against McKinney being in his area…CEH usually juked or muscled past McKinney.   

 -- Had the luxury of moving up into OLB spots time-to-time because his team was so dominant, they could afford McKinney roving around to guess RB passes or to be a surprise blitzer but in the NFL he’s going to be more stuck in the back of the defense defending a lot of open space and he may not have the size or speed to be totally effective in that role.

McKinney played some of a Minkah Fitzpatrick type role at Alabama and often gets compared to him…but McKinney is nothing like Fitzpatrick as an athlete or tackler. McKinney is a very store brand version of Minkah. Shouldn’t even be discussed in the same breath, because there is such a gap.

 -- I’d summarize my McKinney session by saying:

Better instincts than I have given credit prior.

Size/speed/power that is below average for the NFL.

Coaches will love his instincts but then there’s worry that he gets burned too often by his lack of ability to make things happen/lack of athleticism despite the right reading of the play.

He might be NFL-starter worthy, more low-end…or a backup in the NFL. Him being rated as the top safety among all the 2019 safety prospects is a joke, a farce of more terrible NFL echo chamber scouting. McKinney is OK but there are so many safety prospects just as good…and some went day three of the draft or went undrafted. McKinney was a terrible value pick for NYG (but Joe Judge has Alabama ties, so…).

Basically, after this recheck, I’m not changing anything in my mind on or in our computer model grading on McKinney. 


Xavier McKinney, Through the Lens of Our SAF Scouting Algorithm:

 -- Five career INTs…three of them came against Western Carolina/FCS/2019 (2) and Louisiana (1). He never picked off a ‘real’ NFL talent QB.

 -- Big tackle count games vs. LSU, Auburn, Ole Miss in 2019…I think there could be a case made that teams with talent and that knew Alabama’s personnel – they may have targeted, welcomed matchups vs. McKinney because the alternatives were no fun. A lot of the tackles I saw by McKinney in these games were chasing from behind tackles to drag down a ballcarrier…not big playmaking hits/plays.

 -- #2 in solo tackles in the SEC in the 2019 season. He is an OK-ish tackler, but his higher tackle counts could be that he gets to a plays well with good instincts (but a bit late to them) and/or is picked on in coverage a bunch, and thus has higher tackle opportunity -- because I didn’t note any real ‘wow’ tackle moments. The only real McKinney ‘wow’ for me was how smartly he covered/moved towards RBs coming out of the backfield on passes. You can see the smarts/instincts but lacking after that.

2020 NFL Combine data:

6’0”/201, 8 5/8” hands, 30 7/8” arms

4.63 40-time, 1.65 10-yard

19 bench reps, 36” vertical, 10’2” broad jump

The Historical SAF Prospects to Whom Xavier McKinney Most Compares Within Our System:

There are legit, productive, solid NFL safeties on this list – ‘useful’ players more than ‘franchise’ or ‘no doubt starter’ ones. McKinney as a starter who moves from team-to-team after his contract because he’s not that essential but is respected – I could see that. 










Tackle Strngth Metrics

Speed Cover Metric

Strong Safety

Free Safety

















U Conn




































C. Florida








*The ratings are based on a 1–10 rating scale, but a prospect can score over 10.0+ and less than 0.0.

OVERALL RATING -- We merge the data from physical measurables, skill times/counts from the NFL Combine/Pro Days, with college performance data available on pass coverage/tackles, etc. and grade it compared to our database history of all college SS/FS prospects, with a focus on which SS/FS prospects went on to be good-great-elite in the NFL. We found characteristics/data points that the successful NFL SS/FS's had in common in college, that most other SS/FS prospects could not match/achieve.

Scoring with a rating over a 7.0+ in our system is where we start to take a SS/FS prospect more seriously. Most of the future NFL-successful college SS/FS prospects scored 8.0+ in our system, and most of the NFL-superior FS/SSs pushed ratings more in the 9–10.0+ levels overall. Future NFL busts will sneak into the 8.0+ rating range from time to time.

TACKLE/STRENGTH METRIC -- A combination of physical measurables and college performance, graded historically for future NFL profiling. In the simplest of terms, this is an attempt to classify the SS/FS as one more likely to be involved in a heavy amount of tackles, forced fumbles, and physical hits to separate a WR from the ball. It also gives some insight into the "toughness" of a player, if it is possible to quantify that (this is our attempt to).

SPEED/COVERAGE METRIC -- A combination of several speed, agility, size measurements as well as college performance. A unique measuring system to look for SS/FS prospects that profile for superior coverage skills and abilities.

2020 NFL Draft Outlook:

Was drafted #36 overall by NYG in 2020.

NFL Outlook:   

Likely hangs in the league for a while, making his bones as a smart, instinctive player…but is never a key cog for a defense, just ‘a’ cog. He’s not a flat out bust but definitely not a future star from what I see. He’s a ‘C’ prospect with ‘D’ leanings more than ‘B’ potential.