We’ve discussed a few needs for the Chicago Bears on the defensive line, but that’s not the only position in coordinator Vic Fangio's unit that needs some tweaking.
The cornerback position has been a question mark the last few years for the organization and heading into 2016, that remains the same. Even with the drafting of Kyle Fuller with the 14th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Bears have a need at the position.
The 2016 NFL Draft provides some interesting cornerback options for teams looking to improve the position. With the Bears set to pick 11th overall, that need could be filled right then and there. If both Jalen Ramsey and Vernon Hargreaves are gone as expected, it could open up the door for Clemson corner Mackensie Alexander.
We break that option down:
Mackensie Alexander, Clemson (5-10, 190) Redshirt Sophomore, Age: 22
Alexander arrived at Clemson as one of the top overall prospects in the 2013 recruiting class but redshirted his freshman year after suffering an injury in the preseason. In 2014, Alexander bounced back and was named a first-team freshman All-American by FWAA and was an All-ACC honorable mention by the media and coaches.
He started 13 games his freshman season recording 22 tackles, six pass breakups and a fumble recovery. Opposing quarterbacks targeted him 57 times, completing 20 passes and just two touchdowns.
He began the 2015 season appearing on both the Bednarik and Thorpe Award preseason watch lists, given to the best defensive back in college football. Alexander was also a member of the Athlon All-American Third Team for the Tigers. He was named first-team All-ACC following his sophomore year.
In a season where the Tigers were ranked at the top of the polls throughout the year, Alexander was an anchor on one of the best pass defenses in college football.
Pro Day Results
40-yard dash: 4.47 seconds
3-cone drill: 7.18 seconds
Vertical jump: 37.5 inches
Broad jump: 10-1
Short shuttle: 4.21 seconds
-Alexander is one of the best man-to-man cover corners in the draft, showing his ability by shutting down receivers at Clemson.
-Powerful cornerback who won’t get bullied at the line of scrimmage. Good attacking point at the line of scrimmage.
-Showed technique improvement from freshman to sophomore season.
-Has really good feet and moves well mirroring opposing wide receivers.
-Very good at anticipating route combinations. Makes good decisions on the ball.
-A big time competitor, has a certain edge to him. Doesn’t take plays off and has a nasty on-field demeanor.
-The big negative that stands out for Alexander is his height. Standing at 5-10, he is usually at a disadvantage against bigger receivers.
-Despite his excellent man-to-man coverage skills, Alexander struggles going up and winning jump balls. His 31 3/8-inch arm length hurts him in this area as well.
-Zone coverage could give him some problems early in his career, as he lacks ideal awareness.
-Didn’t record an interception in his two-year college career and had only 11 total passes defended, although a big reason is that quarterbacks didn't throw his way.
-A jam release against a big, physical receiver could give him problems.
Is Alexander worth the 11th overall pick?
Alexander’s shot to land with the Bears at No. 11 is going to depend heavily on what happens with both Ramsey and Alexander. If the Bears want to go after a cornerback in this draft and both are gone, Alexander could be the option.
But can they risk taking Alexander at 11 with defensive playmakers available at other positions? Probably not. It would be more of a surprising pick at No. 11 as Alexander doesn’t have that Top 15 talent or size.
On film, he looks more like a late-first or early-second round pick in this years draft. The Bears will only jump the gun and grab him at 11 if they feel he fits the needs of the team and he won't be there when they pick in the second round.
Alexander has some really good positives but his game needs some work as he transitions into the NFL. Going against big, physical receivers will likely give him problems early on but can he adapt get better?
With Tracy Porter and Kyle Fuller as the top two cornerbacks on the roster, Alexander wouldn’t be an upgrade right away. That’s not saying he won’t ever be a great player but the Bears would be better off if Hargreaves falls to 11.
The more likely scenario for Alexander to end up on this roster would be him falling to the second round, when the Bears pick at 41st overall.