Familiarity Helps Alexander Transition

The Vikings' sixth-round draft pick, Rufus Alexander, should be able to transition nicely to the team's personnel and scheme.

When a rookie comes to a new town, the change of scenery can be a little overwhelming – as players uproot their lives and head off for minicamps in their new home city without, in some cases, even knowing a single person in that area.

Vikings sixth-round pick Rufus Alexander doesn't have to worry about that. Alexander, a linebacker from Oklahoma, is best of friends with the next big thing in Minnesota – first-round draft choice and Sooner teammate Adrian Peterson.

"It's a great deal," Alexander said. "My homeboy Adrian is out there and it's going to be fun and exciting."

Alexander is a player several draft analysts had linked to teams like the Vikings, because they operate defenses that are similar to what they use at OU. But, like Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway a year earlier, Alexander just about saw his NFL dream go up in smoke at the Combine in Indianapolis.

He ran a sub-par 4.79 40 at the Combine and his stock slipped. Less than a month later, he ran a respectable 4.69 40 at his Pro Day workout. While Greenway blamed his shoes, Alexander's explanation for his drop-off at the Combine was more understandable – a simple case of the butterflies.

"It was probably jitters with all of those coaches being there," Alexander said. "At Pro Day it was more of a calm setting. It was your home turf. You had a feel of everything and everything wasn't being made so big with the doctors and all that."

While Alexander will need some grooming – scouts claim he needs to refine his technique because he takes himself out of plays and has depended on his athleticism – those same scouts believe, in the right situation, Alexander could be a solid pro. From his perspective, he has more experience in the Tampa-2 than just about any player on the Vikings roster.

"The defense (the Vikings) run is pretty much the same thing we ran at Oklahoma," Alexander said. "Some of the stuff we ran at the Senior Bowl was the same. A Cover-2 kind of defense – a 4-3 scheme – which I've been playing for five years. I think it suits me very well and lets me use my speed."

While most sixth-round picks are viewed by many as just live bodies, Alexander likely has a better-than-average chance of making the team. His tackling numbers speak for themselves – 219 tackles over the last two years – and the scheme the Vikings run would seem to be a glove fit. Oh, yeah, and one of his best friends is the new Big Man on Campus. Maybe being taken in the sixth round wasn't so bad after all.

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