While it seems like Alabama and LSU underclassmen make the off-season a “right of passage” to declare for the NFL draft, losing their leading tackler and emerging talent will probably be the be the hardest for Tigers coaches to take. The staff had shown faith in the Oxford High talent on the recruiting circuit, even after the four-star prospect had missed most of his senior year after a mid-September knee injury required surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
Kwon Alexander's first season at LSU was cut short after six regular season games when he fractured his right ankle vs. Florida. Doctors told him he would miss the rest of the year, but he returned for the Chick fil-A Bowl, finishing his first year with 12 tackles, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble. He started nine times at strong-side linebacker in 2013, ranking fourth on the team with 65 tackles, as he had 6.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage and four pass break-ups.
Even though Alexander led the team with 90 tackles as a weak-side linebacker in 2014, his injury woes continued. He suffered a neck stinger in the season opener vs. Wisconsin, re-injured his neck vs. Sam Houston State and was forced to sit out the Louisiana-Monroe clash. He also had 7.5 stops-for-loss and five QB pressures.
The junior has a compact, muscular frame with good upper body development, but has to improve his lower body strength and will likely need to add bulk in order to compete effectively at the next level. He does have room on his frame to carry the additional weight without it impacting his overall speed. Some concerns outside of his lack of ideal height and adequate lower body strength, are his short arms and small wingspan (74 5/8-inches).
Alexander has great agility and athletic ability, playing with ideal quickness and speed. He shows fine balance closing on the ball and the ability to stay on his feet working through trash. With his flexibility, he is quick to redirect and work his way to the flow of the ball. He has the quickness of a safety dropping back in zone coverage and is an above average space player, thanks to the suddenness when closing. He looks very athletic moving to the ball, showing fluid change of direction, acceleration and body control in attempts to keep the action in front of him.
Alexander has a natural feel for the flow of the ball, showing quick lateral movement and fluid change of direction agility. He has that ease of movement when changing direction to turn and run on the ball in an instant. He plays with good hand usage, balance and agility to thread through traffic, but a lack of bulk could see him engulfed in one-on-one battles vs. bigger linemen. He is quick to pull the trigger when operating in pursuit, as he has the speed to cover ground from sideline to sideline, thanks to his excellent range and good effort.
He is sudden to react and triggers fast moving back in zone coverage. He is quick coming off the snap, staying low in his pads while generating quick lateral movements to string the plays wide. He has the natural ability to always anticipate the flow of the ball. He is a patient type that generally plays under control and has no problems identifying what the offense throws at him.
While Alexander lacks the ideal size to take on the larger blockers, he compensates with strength, field savvy, quickness and instincts. He has enough playing strength to combat tight ends and lead blockers, but will struggle to shed when an offensive lineman latches on to his body. He is a better space player than one in tight quarters, as he needs to be very quick and active with his hands to control and get off blocks in attempts to get to the ball.
The Tiger is strong enough for his size and can hit with leverage to stun lead blocks and cause a pile, but does not have the “sand in his pants” to take on linemen. He has the hand strength to shed blocks quickly, doing a nice job of extending to keep blockers from attacking his body. He has the ease of movement agility to flow to the ball, staying at a proper pad level to extend, wrap and secure as a tackler.
Against the inside run, Alexander compensates for a lack of size with his change of direction agility and lateral movement to slip past blocks. He fills holes quickly and has the functional strength to take on fullbacks, but vs. the bigger offensive linemen, he can get engulfed when working in-line if he does not protect his chest from the blocker locking on. He does a good job of coming down hill, but is best when using his hands to shed when working near the line of scrimmage, which allows him to fill the rush lane.
Alexander has the ability to drop off deep in the zone due to his hip swerve. He has the quickness to run with backs, tight ends and slot receivers in the short area and shows good vision, quickness and ball anticipation to be right in the receiver’s face in attempts to reroute. He uses his hands with force in press situations and shows the hip swerve to operate in trail coverage. He takes no wasted steps in transition and is quick to turn coming out of his backpedal.>
Alexander can get caught up vs. inside trash when his hands get outside his frame, but when he keeps his hands active and gets a strong push off the blocker, he can get into the backfield to apply pocket pressure. He gives good effort as a blitzer and is effective flowing to the ball and attacking from the back side, but is never going to be considered an elite disruptor in an opponent’s backfield due to size and lower strength issues.
Kwon Alexander NFL Scouting Combine measurables
6-1/227 (4.55 forty)
30 1/4-inch arm length
9 1/4-inch hands
36-inch vertical jump
121-inch broad jump
7.14 3 cone drill
4.20 20 yard shuttle
Dave-Te’ Thomas is a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League. Thomas runs a scouting information service called NFL Scouting Services and produces THE NFL Draft Report, a publication provided by league headquarters to the media in preparation for the NFL Draft.
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