Written by: Blake Hymel
After being ruled academically ineligible for the 2018 season, Adonis Alexander will apply for the NFL Supplemental Draft. Teams will have a lot to think about if they want to draft Alexander. Off the field, he’s exactly what you’re not looking for in a prospect. He was arrested in 2016 and suspended for the first game of the year for Marijuana possession. In 2017, he was suspended for the first two games of the season for violating team rules. When you add his inability to stay eligible in the classroom, NFL teams must wonder if he’s worth a pick. We’ve broken down what Alexander can and can’t do on the field, and find out if his off-the-field issues are too big to ignore.
What can he do:
Cover the deep ball
Alexander ran a 4.92 coming out of high school, but he’s clearly faster than that now. He has no problems sticking to the receiver’s inside pocket and riding him down field. He does a good job of pushing the receiver to the sideline, taking away room for the quarterback to fit the ball. He has very good body control to fight for contested balls. He attacks the ball at its highest point and has the ball skills to pull it down.
Stay mentally aware
Alexander always seems to be mentally aware of what’s happening on the field. He recognizes run and screen plays very quickly and can close the distance before the runner picks up speed. His mental awareness spreads beyond just recognizing plays. Example: against Virginia in 2016, Alexander intercepted the ball over the middle of the field. When turned around by the defender, he recognized a teammate behind him, pitched the ball to his teammate, and extended the return for another 22 yards.
Lay down big hits
With Alexander’s ability to recognize run and screen plays correctly, he regularly puts himself in good position to lay down big hits behind the line. He has the speed to close the gap quickly and lower his shoulder to make a big hit. He also has the speed to come off the edge to blitz the quarterback. He has the ability to catch the quarterback during his reads for sacks.
What can’t he do:
Be physical off the line
Alexander’s biggest issue is his inability to knock receivers off their routes during their stem. When playing man-press, he allows the receiver a clean getoff more often than not. This allows receivers to have success with short routes. He doesn’t push receivers off their stem as often as he should, and doesn’t disrupt the receiver’s timing. He does become more physical as the receiver makes his way down field, mainly on go routes, but is overall too passive off the line.
Cover the slant route
This could probably be put under the “be physical off the line” section, but his inability to cover the slant route is especially concerning. In the three games I watched, he played press coverage against the slant route around 10 times, and the only time it wasn’t completed was on a dropped pass. Not only do teams complete slant routes at a high percentage against Alexander, there’s always space after the catch for the receiver to pick up extra yards.
Tackle with discipline
Alexander is a big hitting tackler, but loses his ability to tackle consistently when he’s forced to use fundamentals. He leaves his feet far too often and allows the runner to run through his arm tackles. He rarely keeps his head up to drive through the runner. If he doesn’t have a head full of steam, or teammates to help him wrap up, he often misses the tackle. He has to improve on breaking down and tackling with discipline if he wants to be successful at the next level.
Alexander could bring good value to a team, but not as a cornerback. His strengths will allow him to make a bigger impact at the safety position. He does have some experience at this position, playing safety in high school and his freshman year in college. His ability to play the deep ball and his knack for constantly being aware will allow him to be successful at the next level. Regardless of position, Alexander will need to become more physical off the line. Even as a safety, he’ll need to creep up toward the line in certain packages, and it’ll be harder to push NFL receivers off the line than it is for college players.
Alexander’s off-the-field issues are a concern, but to his credit, it seems like he’s matured since his arrest in 2016 and suspension in 2017. In an interview with Tom Pelissero of NFL.com, Alexander said “…as I got older, I realized the other opportunity that I was messing up. Back then, I was probably a more in-the-moment guy. I didn’t really look ahead. But I can honestly say as I mature, I begin to think about my future before I make a decision”.
If I were an NFL GM, I’d give up my 4th round pick next year to get Alexander. With his physical upside and his potential to be coached up, I could see a team giving up a 3rd round for him as well.