By Andrew Thomison | @Andrew_Thomison
Sports Capital Journalism Program
With great versatility comes great responsibility. Former Alabama Crimson Tide safety Xavier McKinney spoke candidly on Friday morning about his ability to contribute in different ways and how that willingness has helped him become a better player.
“I’m a versatile guy and can do a lot of different things, McKinney said at the National Football League Scouting Combine. “I think I’d fit well in a lot of schemes, to be honest with you. I don’t think there’s a scheme that I wouldn’t do well in.”
Since 2018, McKinney has made his presence known with 169 tackles, five interceptions (two of which were returned for touchdowns), six sacks and six forced fumbles. McKinney became a third-team All-American by the Associated Press and Pro Football Focus. He became a force with the Crimson Tide and plans to bring a hard-working, ball-hawking mentality to whichever NFL team selects him.
McKinney spoke about the responsibility and preparation that come along with learning more than one position.
“It’s tough,” he said. “It’s a lot more studying than the average person would have to do for one position. It can be difficult trying to learn more than one check at more than one position … and know what you have do. During every week after practice, I go upstairs and watch film. I try to make sure I get the game plan and make sure that I know what I’m doing and make sure that I do my job.”
Despite the time and added effort that comes with having to learn more than one position, McKinney expressed how he enjoys the preparation.
“It’s fun to me,” he said. “Just being able to watch other people, to see what their tendencies are. Sometimes I can look at what they do and try to mimic what they might be doing, so it puts me in a better position to stop them.”
McKinney’s versatility isn’t the only factor that he feels distinguishes him from the other safeties in this class.
“I can do anything that you want me to do, and I do it well,” he said. “So I think that’s the biggest thing. Just to know that no matter how it’s turning out, whether we’re losing or winning, I’m going to go hard. I’m going to put 110% in every game, and you see that in my tape.”
McKinney also spoke on how the Alabama program helped prepare him for the NFL.
“They prepared me in a lot of different ways,” he said. “I think with all these meetings and different stuff … That’s something we did at Bama, so I’m pretty used to it. So, I think it’s prepared me for this moment. Being in the lights and the limelight all the time at Alabama has prepared me for this moment.”