Mackensie Alexander, CB
School: Clemson | Conference: ACC
College Experience: RS Sophomore | Age: 22
Height/Weight: 5-10 / 190 lbs.
Projected Draft Status: Mid - Late 1st Round
NFL Comparison: Jason Verrett
Alexander was one of the most sought-after recruits in the country, ranking as the fourth-best high school prospect by ESPN. He redshirted his freshman year after suffering a groin injury, but when he was healthy the next season, Alexander was named a starter and was recognized as a Freshman All-American and made the honorable mention All-ACC list. In 2015, his redshirt sophomore campaign, he continued to build his reputation as a lock-down corner and was named to the first-team All-ACC and third team All-American lists. Critics of Alexander's game point to inexperience and lack of production, as he has never recorded a career interception and is credited with only 11 pass break-ups in the past two seasons. Supporters will say that his lack of production is due to opposing offenses rarely targeting him. To his credit, Alexander allowed a measly 32.7% completion percentage when quarterbacks threw his way last year. Mackensie did not perform any of the drills at the Combine (except the bench press, where he repped 225# 11 times) due to a lingering hamstring injury suffered in the Championship game, however he did declare himself "the best cornerback in the draft".
- Very, very competitive and plays with passionate intensity
- Natural man-to-man coverage abilities prevent receivers from getting much separation
- "Click-and-close" ability means he's able to fly to the ball and make a tackle at the LOS or break up a pass when separated from a receiver. Multiple times on tape I saw him change direction and cover 10-15 yards in a second to make the tackle for loss or no gain on smoke routes
- Thickly built for a corner with solid functional strength
- Student of the game; understands the importance of studying film and learning an opposing receiver's habits and weaknesses
- Below-average height for a prototypical corner, exposing himself to taller receivers
- Confidence bordering on cockiness will get him tested by elite NFL players. Could receive taunting penalties
- Limited college experience and lack of measurable production - started 23 games, no career interceptions, only 11 PBUs in two seasons
- Struggled to stay with receivers that had top-end quickness off the line of scrimmage like Oklahoma's Sterling Shepard
Tape don't lie about Mackenzie Alexander, QB's feared him, rarely go opportunity to get interceptions, that's why he never got one @ Clemson— DutyHead (@sportsgeek3) February 29, 2016
Was told Clemson CB Mackenzie Alexander has been in high demand. Source tells me he's had at least 19 interviews scheduled this weekend.— Mike Kaye (@mike_e_kaye) February 28, 2016
MacKenzie Alexander has binders full of every reciever he has ever faced. Looking forward 2 watching him on Sundays. https://t.co/tlz8P7CYXn— Martin Tiller (@martintiller10) February 27, 2016
I must admit that MacKenzie Alexander has grown on me. I like this answer. https://t.co/yjfIAVCDvx— Asher Mathews (@AsherMathews) February 27, 2016
Mackenzie Alexander is spitting fire. He has enough confidence for five CBs. He passionately says he's the best CB in this draft.— Justin Rogers (@Justin_Rogers) February 27, 2016
Per @PFF_College, Mackensie Alexander allowed just 19 catches all season.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) February 28, 2016
Mackensie Alexander also allowed 0 TDs and only 33.3% completion percentage. https://t.co/fpR9tQVbEC— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) February 28, 2016
Top-3 most impressive interviews at the 2016 NFL Combine IMO:— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) February 27, 2016
1) CB Mackensie Alexander
2) OT Laremy Tunsil
3) DE Joey Bosa
How He Fits on the Redskins
In today's NFL, it's about three things: your quarterback, your pass-rushers, and your cornerbacks. The Redskins have lacked a true #1 corner for quite some time. We have Cousins, Kerrigan, Baker, Smith, and Galette. We have nothing but question marks outside Breeland in the secondary. I went back and watched the All-22 against Green Bay; what stood out to me most was our secondary's inability to keep receivers covered for more than 2.5 seconds. I honestly think Barry has a good defensive mind, but was clearly very limited in what he could accomplish because of our talent. If the Redskins can consistently field two good corners and generate an interior rush, this defense can be very good.
Enter Mackensie Alexander. He's the clear #3 DB in this class to me behind Jalen Ramsey and Vernon Hargreaves, two absolute studs. While he lacks production in the interception department, there is no denying the kid has the natural ability to run and cover. Once he refines his technique and gets more opportunities, the picks will come. What's more, Alexander has swagger coming out his ears; he's confident and cocky as hell but was able to back it up with articulate reasoning and analysis during his Combine interviews. It's his football IQ and demeanor that are rare, valuable traits. It would take a leap of faith to draft Alexander at #21 overall, but he will almost certainly be gone by our 2nd round pick, and there is a huge drop-off in corner talent after the first 3-4 corners this year. We would very likely get a shot at drafting a solid defensive line player in the second round the way the position is stacked.
I was originally not a fan of Mackensie, but the more I watched and listened the more he grew on me. Selecting him would give the Redskins an opportunity to turn weakness into strength in 2016.