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NFL Draft Scouting Report: Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson

Mackensie Alexander only has two years of collegiate experience under his belt, but he has developed into perhaps the finest cover corner in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Mackensie Alexander - CB Clemson Tigers

Position: Cornerback
Height: 5'11''
Weight: 195
Year: Junior
Hometown: Immokalee, Florida
Experience: RsSo-2 year starter

Measurables:

(Alexander was kept out of Combine workouts with a hamstring injury)
40yd dash: N/A
Broad jump: N/A
Vertical: N/A
3-cone: N/A
20yd. Shuttle: N/A
Bench Press: N/A

Career Notes:

Mackensie Alexander has been a highly sought after player since ESPN rated him the No. 4 overall prospect coming out of high school.  In his high school career Alexander amassed 139 tackles and 10 interceptions.  This production will be crucial due to his lack of statistics in college.  Alexander was slated to start for the Tigers as a true freshman in 2013 but was forced to redshirt.  His redshirted freshman year finally allowed Mackensie Alexander onto the field where he would become a centerpiece of a surprising Clemson team over the next two seasons. 

In his redshirt freshman season, Alexander earned a starting job and took the ACC by storm.  Alexander's production: 21 tackles, six pass breakups, and no interceptions do not stand out, but his 766 snaps were the most by a freshman in school history.  He was named freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association of America due to his superior coverage ability.  In his first year of collegiate playing time Alexander only allowed 20 completions on 57 attempts and 2 touchdowns to opposing teams' primary wide receiver. Opposing quarterbacks would ignore Alexander's side of the field, only receiving 7% of attempts.  The physical player from a small Florida high school declared that he was the best cornerback in the nation after his freshman season, and his sophomore season certainly reinforced the statement. 

The Clemson Tigers went 14-1 under head coach Dabo Swinney in 2015.  Mackensie Alexander led the Tigers to an undefeated regular season while bolstering a ferocious defense that finished tenth in yards per game and fourth in sacks.  His production almost mirrored his freshman year, but he continued to refine his mechanics by constantly evaluating his own film.  He played both slot and outside cornerback throughout his tenure at Clemson, showing the versatility to utilize his size as best as possible at the next level.  Alexander is an athletic student of the game that utilizes physical man-to-man coverage to mirror the opponent's best receiver.  He enters the 2016 NFL Draft as a shutdown corner capable of being drafted in the first round. 

Injury Report: 

Mackensie's sophomore season was cut short in the National Championship Game when he exited due to a hamstring injury that had been ailing him all week.  The injury still seems to be an issue, and kept him out of participating in the NFL Combine.  Hopefully we will be able to see Mackensie at his Pro Day on March 10.

Career Stats:

For a full breakdown of Mackensie Alexander's career stats, follow the link below:
http://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/players/mackensie-alexander-1.html

Analysis:

Man Coverage: 4.55.0: Alexander's greatest strength is his ability to match up one-on-one with the receiver across from him.  He has fluid hips to follow the receiver's route.  When Alexander is in press coverage at the line of scrimmage he is very physical, constantly using his hands to throw receivers off direction.  In off coverage Alexander can lose his footing at times as he turns to chase the receiver, but he recovers well when beat.  Alexander is constantly on the hip of the receiver, never allowing an easy completion.  Mackensie Alexander's ability in space over the top and physical in your face play at the line of scrimmage will allow him to slow down the explosive wide receivers in the NFL. 

Zone Coverage: 3.5/5.0: Quarterbacks rarely targeted Alexander's side of the field, regardless of his style of coverage.  Alexander isn't as comfortable or fluid in zone coverage as in man. Whether it's a miscommunication before the snap or improper positioning, he doesn't appear to be the same physical presence as when in man coverage.  That being said, another recognizable strength of Alexander is his ability to close on receivers with the ball in their hands.  When analyzing short crossing patterns, Alexander has the mental sharpness to explode on receivers that enter his zone.  There were several plays in the National Championship game that clearly illustrated Alexander's explosive ability when reading a defense. 

 Against the Run: 1.5/5.0: Alexander is by no means afraid of making contact with ball carriers.  He was used as a blizter from the slot cornerback position and uses his speed to track down the ball well.  He simply just doesn't have the frame or physical ability to impact the running game at the next level.  Alexander is easily blocked and has very limited ability to fight through traffic. 

Speed/Quickness:4.0/5.0: Alexander's impressive coverage abilities are due to his mental toughness combined with his quick feet.  Always being fast as a child, Alexander was a track star in high school and carried that speed onto the football field.  He is an extremely gifted athlete that knows when and how to contort his body to constantly take proper angles and disrupt the pass.  Alexander does not finish until the play is over, constantly running down receivers and ball carriers that may have escaped downfield.  Regardless of his 40-yard dash time, Alexander has rare play speed on the field that allows him to dominate most matchups. 

Impact Play Ability: 2.0/5: The lack of interceptions throughout Mackensie Alexander's career are cause for concern.  Although he played the majority of snaps for Clemson over his two seasons there, he has just one turnover to show for it.  There is no lack of explosive ability with Alexander, but the plays have just not come his way often enough.  He constantly has his eyes on the receiver as he mirrors their movements.  He will need to read the quarterback better to come away with interceptions in the NFL.

Overall Grade: 4.0/5.0  

Summary: Mackensie Alexander possesses very enticing skills from the cornerback position.  Quarterbacks are scared of his coverage, but Alexander will have to continue to impress with many more targets headed his way as a rookie.  He has unique man coverage ability and is best playing physical press coverage at the line.  He has the quick feet, fluid hips, and recovery speed that NFL executives envy.  His size is a concern to many, but I think he plays well above his height. He needs to work on his tackling ability and needs to catch more of the balls he deflects.  Regardless, Alexander is a compact player with the physical toughness and mental focus to succeed in the NFL both on the boundary and from the slot.

If drafted by the Packers:

Mackensie Alexander's chances of becoming a Green Bay Packer first infringe upon the status of Casey Hayward this offseason.  With the drafting of Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins in last year's draft, as well as the stellar play of undrafted rookie LaDarius Gunter in limited action, Ted Thompson might see enough young potential on the roster to let Hayward leave in free agency.  Hayward has shown promise throughout his career with the Packers, but injuries and a lackluster performance as a boundary cornerback earlier this year  have not made him a lock for a second contract with the team.  With approximately just over $20 million in cap space in 2016, Ted Thompson may add to his young pool of cornerbacks through the draft as opposed to throwing substantial money to retain an inconsistent performer. 

I like Alexander best as a slot cornerback with the ability to play on the outside.  Sam Shields has been injury prone throughout his career, almost always missing a game or two to injury.  Damarious Randall took over for Hayward on the outside midway through the 2015 season, and he showed major promise.  Assuming those positions are locked down, Alexander could instantly compete with Quinten Rollins for the slot role in the nickel.  He would also most likely be the first boundary player off the bench if Randall or Shields missed any time.  Demetri Goodson and LaDarius Gunter are very unproven players and lack the athletic ability of Alexander.  If Mackensie Alexander joined Ted Thompson's refurnished secondary as an early round pick the Packers would have four of the quickest and most versatile cornerbacks in the NFL. 

Although cornerback is by no means a glaring need for the Packers, Ted Thompson would do well to bring in further talent to the secondary.  In today's NFL it is a necessity to have a talented and athletic secondary.  Sam Shields has been consistent but not extraordinary.  Morgan Burnett seems to have found his ceiling.  Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, Damarious Randall, and Quinten Rollins all exhibit splashes of playmaking ability, but a true lock-down presence in the secondary is lacking.  Alexander fits the mold Ted Thompson has looked for at the cornerback position, and if he is available at pick 27, Thompson might have his final piece to a feared secondary. 

Video:

Before he left the game with an injured hamstring, Mackensie Alexander was showing why he is viewed as a top cornerback prospect in the National Championship against Alabama-01/09/2016:
 

NFL Categories: 
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Comments (6)

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al bundy's picture

March 03, 2016 at 03:11 pm

too small. Where are the 6'1 210 guys who are hard hitters

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Evan's picture

March 03, 2016 at 09:39 pm

Do you want them to be able to cover too? Because there are literally like 2 guys in the NFL who fit that description.

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Rossonero's picture

March 03, 2016 at 08:45 pm

He sounds like an intriguing prospect, but regardless of him being available at pick 27, I just don't see the need to spend a first round pick on a guy with a dodgy hamstring. Casey Hayward had hamstring issues too.

ILB, OLB and TE are more pressing needs and warrant first round attention.

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J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

March 04, 2016 at 06:26 am

would be happy to have him in the secondary!

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 04, 2016 at 10:17 am

Measured 5'10" even at the combine. Didn't run at the combine. Should test well at his pro day.

Guy is listed on big boards 11th by CBS and 17th by Drafttek. If he drops to #27, TT needs to take advantage of it. Might be too much talent to pass up even though we have more pressing needs. Trading back should net something, even just 4 or 5 spots.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 04, 2016 at 10:26 am

Is it my computer or is this website having some issues? The articles keep disappearing.

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