Welcome to the Big Show: Mackensie Alexander
Cornerback certainly did not feel like a huge need heading into this year’s NFL Draft, but the Minnesota Vikings felt otherwise. The newest player to become part of the Vikings talented backfield is Clemson’s Mackensie Alexander.
Regarded by some draft “gurus” as a first round talent, Alexander could end up as one of the steals of the draft considering he was selected in the bottom third of the second round. It is time to take a closer look at what Alexander can bring to a Minnesota defense that seemed to get increasingly deeper after this year’s draft.
Weight: 190 pounds
Arm Length: 31 3/8”
Hand Size: 9 1/8”
Pro Day Results
40-yard dash: 4.47 seconds
Vertical: 37 1/2 inches
Broad Jump: 10 feet, 1 inch
Short shuttle: 4.21 seconds
3-cone: 7.18 seconds
To say that Alexander had a tough time growing up in the small Florida town of Immokalee would be quite the understatement. He grew up in a town where the main source of income came from the result of many hours under the hot sun working in the area’s tomato fields.
Although the population of the town is rather small (around 24,000), Alexander is not the first resident of Immokalee to make it to the NFL. Former University of Miami star and Indianapolis Colts running back Edgerrin James is one of the few former players to call the small town his home.
In addition to playing football at Immokalee High, Alexander also was a member of the school’s wrestling and track teams. He excelled in all three sports, but football was what he was great at.
As the fourth ranked cornerback in the country in 2013, he had over 20 scholarship offers from schools including Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Clemson. After committing early in 2012 to the University of Tennessee, a coaching departure led to Alexander changing his mind and enrolling at Clemson in 2013.
A groin injury led to Alexander having to redshirt in his first year at Clemson, but his play during his next two years at the University made up for his lost freshman season. Despite having zero interceptions in his entire career at Clemson, he found other ways to make an impact on the football field. During 14 games in 2015, Alexander allowed his opposing receivers to only catch 33 percent of the passes thrown their way.
*Medical redshirt in 2013
- When Alexander steps on the field, everyone knows he is there to make a play.
- Throughout his college career, his intimidation tactics proved to be affective against opposing receivers.
- If a receiver dropped a pass, Alexander would be the first one in that player’s face to let him know how he messed up.
- Did well when asked to play man coverage in college.
- A solid tackler in the open field.
- Wherever the ball seems to be, Alexander will almost certainly have been there first.
- His size (5’10”) is not the typical height that pro coaches look for when determining who their starting cornerback will be.
- Alexander sometimes gets caught watching just the receiver, rather than the ball as well.
- His speed helped him in college, but can it translate in the pros?
- Alexander’s cockiness could end up costing his team at some point during a game.
The Vikings did their due diligence before selecting Alexander. Minnesota interviewed the young corner at the NFL Combine and defensive backs coach Jerry Gray took a trip down to Clemson for a work out with Alexander.
When describing the selection, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman stated that, “you can never have enough corners,” and that the team is always, “trying to keep as much competition as (they) can.”
Needless to say, Alexander was just a little excited about the opportunity to play for Minnesota.
THE VIKINGS FIT
Regarded by some scouts and draft analysts as a possible first round selection, it definitely seems like the Vikings got great value when they drafted Alexander in the second round. The flaws in his game will be improved immensely under the tutelage of Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer, who could possibly turn this second round pick into a future All-Pro.
As for his rookie season, do not be surprised if it resembles something similar to that of Trae Waynes first season with the Vikings. Minnesota has a lot of depth in the defensive backfield heading into the 2016 season. In order for Alexander to get some serious playing time, an injury to another player would likely have to occur or his performance on the practice field would have to make Zimmer smile like he just shot a deer.