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Cowboys Draft Target: Alabama Safety Xavier McKinney

Breaking down Xavier McKinney’s strengths, weaknesses, and potential fit with the Dallas Cowboys.

In the coming weeks and months I will be breaking down potential prospects for the Dallas Cowboys to determine their strengths, weaknesses, and potential fit with the organization. Today, I want to take a look at a former Alabama Crimson Tide player who could be in play for the Cowboys with the 17th overall pick in the first-round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

NAME: Xavier McKinney


SCHOOL: Alabama Crimson Tide


CLASS: Junior

JERSEY: No. 15


HT: 6’1″

WT: 200




Xavier McKinney is arguably one of the most well-rounded and versatile safeties in the 2020 draft class. Was utilized in a variety of different ways on defense at Alabama. Played as a deep safety, was implemented in man-to-man coverage, used as a blitzer off the edge, and as a sub-package linebacker.

McKinney is lightning fast when playing downhill. Extremely confident as a run defender. Always looking to be the aggressor and deliver a blow to the ballcarrier. Reliable tackler with good contact balance and hitting power. Shows good short area burst both linear and lateral.

Plays with good range in coverage. Has a good understanding for route anticipation. Good long speed. Will bait quarterbacks into throws and use his quick closing speed to make a play on the ball. Has good ball skills and physicality to challenge receivers at the catch point. Really good football IQ. Always around the ball.


There only a few weaknesses to Xavier McKinney’s game. He looks more comfortable the closer he gets around the line of scrimmage. Seems to second-guess himself on to the back end. Only average to slightly above average burst and range as a deep safety. Might be only a strong safety in the NFL.

It’s nitpicking, but McKinney can sometimes come in too high when making a tackle. He also needs to do better job of squaring up to the ballcarrier. Can also be a little overly aggressive and take poor angles.

Cowboys Fit:

Projecting Xavier McKinney’s fit with the Dallas Cowboys is an easy one. He would immediately step into the vacated spot previously held down by Jeff Heath and help solidify the backend of the Cowboys defense as a rookie. He is a jack of all trades kind of defensive back who can be deployed in a variety of different roles.

If paired with Xavier Woods, McKinney would more than likely be more of a strong safety and asked to play more around the line of scrimmage. This is where I believe he is at his best. Not to say he isn’t effective as a deep safety, because he is. He just seems more comfortable mixing it up as a box safety or in the underneath/intermediate part of the field.

What do you think?

Brian Martin

Written by Brian Martin

Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.


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    • I actually prefer Delpit if the Cowboys are looking for more of a true FS, but McKinney if they’re looking for more of a box/SS. Regardless, either would be a huge upgrade on the backend their defense.

      • It’s obvious the cowboys need a strong safety…. That’s why they tried trading for Jamal Adams this past season!! But either way, I’m with Aaron…. I’d prefer Mckinney over Delpit!! We had enough problems with the tackling, and Delpit had too many problems tackling this past season!!

        • Mike Nolan has said that he wants “ball hawks” in his secondary. To me, that sounds like Delpit’s game more than McKinney’s. It’s really going to come down to the preference of the new coaching staff.

          • If you look at their stats you’ll see that Mckinney has more interceptions than Delpit does!! At least that’s what I seen!! So it sounds to me like Mckinney would be the better option either way!!

    • I like Delpit slightly more than McKinney because I think he is a better coverage safety. But, I’d be happy with either.

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