At 6-foot-1 and 227 pounds, how could Alexander take the pounding from a hard-charging, lead-blocking fullback and make the tackle?
The NFL has changed. Offenses spread the field — generally with a third receiver rather than a fullback — and get the ball to their playmakers in space. Defenses have had to change as a result. There’s a reason, after all, why A.J. Hawk is no longer with the Green Bay Packers.
That makes Alexander not only a fit in today’s NFL but one of the better inside linebackers in this draft class. In fact, Alexander ranks No. 6 among this year’s inside linebackers, according to recent rankings provided to Packer Report by the NFL’s head scout, Dave-Te’ Thomas.
“I try to stay confident,” Alexander, one of just two juniors among the top 20 inside linebackers in the class, said at the Scouting Combine. “I love to compete. When I go out there, I’m always going to compete and try to be the best I can be.”
Alexander might not be big but he is athletic. At the Scouting Combine, he ran his 40 in 4.55 seconds — fastest of any of the linebackers in Indianapolis. His 20-yard shuttle ranked seven among the linebackers.
Alexander has excellent leaping ability (36-inch vertical), overall quickness and upper-body strength (24 reps on the 225-pound bench press), but must work on developing better lower-body power to prevent from being absorbed by bigger blockers when trying to work in tight quarters.
Because he is “height challenged,” some teams are strongly considering the junior as a potential weak-side inside ‘backer in a 3-4 alignment. By having the LSU product roam the field, they reason that he can be productive as a run defender and pass rusher, as his acceleration and closing speed are capable of creating game-changing turnovers.
Durability issues are a concern with Alexander, however. He missed most of his high school senior season in 2011 after he suffered a knee anterior cruciate ligament tear. As a freshman at LSU, he sustained a right ankle fracture vs. Florida in 2012 that forced him to miss the final six regular-season games before returning for the Sugar Bowl vs. Clemson. This past season, he dealt with neck stinger issues, as it first occurred vs. Wisconsin and again vs. Sam Houston state before the coaches sat him for the Louisiana-Monroe clash.
Alexander played on the strong side in 2012 and 2013 but moved to the weak side in 2014. In his 12 games (all starts), he led the team with a team-high 90 tackles and 7.5 tackles for losses. He recorded the first 1.5 sacks of his career — on both plays, he helped cause a fumble — to earn first-team all-SEC.firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.