Does Xavier McKinney Fill a Need for the Ravens?
It’s a game of numbers, youth, and money. Those numbers come from production. Because it is a business, players that we as fans are emotionally tied to, end up hitting the door to save cap space or make room for the new blood. The Baltimore Ravens in the upcoming NFL draft may find themselves in a bittersweet predicament. With the 28th overall pick, Eric DeCosta may select the hardest hitting Safety in football. Xavier McKinney is a definite fit for the black and purple. But what does that mean for the vets?
Familiar with Terrorizing Bengals…
I went to the clips on this Nick Saban factory kid and was impressed. Xavier is a guy who will stand you up, eat your lunch, and having you rethinking career decisions after he hits you. I love love love his ability to play near the line of scrimmage and get into the backfield with ease. I remember distinctly McKinney giving my LSU Tigers heck in 2019, sacking Heisman Trophy Winner and projected 2020 #1 overall pick, Joe Burrow, twice and causing a fumble on one of his dropbacks. Not to mention #15 had 9-tackles on the day.
Help is on the way
This 6-1, 200lb thumper would be a great addition to a Ravens’ secondary that had issues stopping the run at times last season. The Ravens Divisional Round embarrassment was a clear indication that more help is needed to stop the run. This Roswell, GA Native may be the answer. He is most comfortable playing up to stop the run. I believe this All-SEC First team player can bolster an already strong secondary and give the LBs piece of mind on the backend should they over-pursue.
Earl is not about that life
The question remains, how do the Ravens get him on the field with the current Vets? Earl Thomas has shown here that while he has the heart to approach to make the tackle, he doesn’t have the size to take on monsters like Derrick Henry as shown here.
— Two-Tone Blue Nation (@TwoToneBlueNat1) January 12, 2020
But Earl is a Free Safety and McKinney is a Strong Safety, right? True, but I am sure Don “Wink” Martindale can find ways to spell the prospect in on early downs. But let’s take a look at the position he could fill on a more consistent basis. I see that Chuck Clark has earned more reps on the field, but I believe that McKinney has to have a presence on the field to deter opposing offenses from running the ball early and often on the team. If asked to, McKinney has the ability to play solid in zone-passing-coverages as well. The tape here highlights some of that.
Got it for cheap
The heart and soul of the Ravens’ defense is Tony Jefferson. I believe he is a fun player to have on the team and brings great leadership to the table. However, at the current price of $11.6M (Brian McFarland of RSR), he’s just too expensive to bring back into the fold. Bringing in the 2018 Orange Bowl Defensive MVP for the low price of a rookie deal could free up $7M of cap space that can be used elsewhere by releasing Jefferson.
Stop the run, protect the legacy
Baltimore takes pride in stopping 100-yard-rushers. The team once went 29-games without allowing a 100-yard-rusher. In 2019 and the playoffs combined, the team allowed four:
Nick Chubb: 20-rushes-165-yards-3-TDs
Joe Mixon: 30-rushes-114-yards
Raheem Mostert: 19-rushes-146-yards-1-TD
Derrick Henry: 30-rushes-195-yds
While being 5th in the league against the run is not a gapping concern, this defense could use the help against irregular performances like the ones above. McKinney could be the cheaper option for the job and could provide stability at the Strong Safety position for the long term.