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Alabama safety Xavier McKinney earning comparisons to Earl Thomas

Xavier McKinney, Earl Thomas, NFL Draft

University of Alabama safety Xavier McKinney is drawing some lofty comparisons heading into the NFL Draft.

According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, one of the NFL’s most respected talent evaluators likened McKinney to Baltimore Ravens safety Earl Clark. Breer added that a couple of other talent evaluators felt a similar way and that one said that McKinney is “premium…one of the best safeties I’ve ever watched.”

Breer noted that teams love McKinney’s athleticism and his versatility in the secondary and that he is considered the best safety in this NFL Draft class by “a healthy amount.”

So, clearly, the bar for McKinney is already pretty high.

McKinney is coming off of a junior campaign in which he racked up 95 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, three interceptions, four forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, six passes defended and a defensive touchdown.

The 21-year-old arrived at Alabama in 2016 and had a very limited role during his freshman year, playing in just four games and logging six tackles. However, the following season, McKinney became a full-time starter for the Crimson Tide, registering 74 tackles, six tackles for loss, three sacks, a couple of picks, a pair of fumble recoveries, 10 passes defended and a defensive score.

As for Thomas? The veteran is widely regarded as one of the best safeties in football.

He spent the first nine seasons of his career with the Seattle Seahawks, making six Pro Bowl appearances and earning three First-Team All-Pro selections.

Thomas signed with the Ravens last offseason and made another trip to the Pro Bowl in his debut season with the club.