Scout's Notebook: LB Rufus Alexander

After a knee injury wiped out his entire rookie season, linebacker Rufus Alexander is back and pushing hard for a backup spot with the Vikings this season. Find out more right here:

#57, Rufus Alexander, LB
(6000, 232, 4.62-4.79) Oklahoma

Personal:  Born 4/12/83, in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana.  Alexander was raised by a mother who worked all of the time to support her family while his father was in prison.  His oldest brother was in and out of legal trouble as was his middle brother.  Alexander met the Barham family, David and Melinda, while he was in junior high school.  In need of a stable living environment, the Barhams spoke to Alexander's mother, Siene, about having Alexander move in with them.  The Barhams never legally adopted Alexander.  David Barham accepted a job as the football coach at Christian Life Academy in Baton Rouge, Lousiana, and he brought Alexander with him.  Alexander became a dominant player, leading his team to district titles his junior and senior year as a linebacker and tight end.  He also stood out in basketball.  Barham began to actively pursue colleges on his behalf as Alexander was listed as a top 20 high school linebacker.  Barham initiated contact with Oklahoma's defensive coordinator Brent Venables in December of 2001 and the Sooners offered Alexander a scholarship and he chose Oklahoma over several other offers.  He is a cousin of Lions’ DB Gerald Alexander, who played collegiately at Boise State.  Has picked up golf as a hobby after college.  Has a black lab named Tyson and plans to get a Mastiff.  Aspires to a career in coaching after his playing days are over.  Volunteered with Toys For Tots and the Boys and Girl Club while at OU.

College:  Redshirted as a true freshman in 2002.  Suffered a knee injury in the 2003 spring game; came back to notch a pair of tackles and force a fumble in limited action.  Stepped into the starting lineup at WLB in 2004; starting 10-of-12 games as he finished with 74 tackles, 3 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, one interception and 2 sacks.  Earned First-Team All-Big 12 honors in 2005, starting every game at WLB en route to 102 tackles, 17 tackles-for-loss and 5 sacks. 

Alexander was arrested on October 15th, 2006, after a confrontation with police.  Alexander said he was trying to stop a fight early Sunday.  He was charged with disturbing the peace and interfering with official process - both misdemeanors - and was released after posting bail.  Alexander told The Oklahoma Daily he was in his car with a friend, Jared Scelfo, when James Wheeler stepped in front of the vehicle.  A disturbance followed and police arrived.  "My friend got out of the car and I was stopping him before he did something stupid," Alexander told the student newspaper.

Concluded his OU career in 2006 as an All-America and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.  Started all 14 games; recorded 118 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 14 TFL and 4 forced fumbles.  Set OU bowl record with 17 tackles in Fiesta Bowl game against Boise State in his final collegiate contest.  Ended his Sooner career with 297 total tackles.  Graduated in the spring of 2007 with a degree in sociology. 

Pre-draft workout numbers:  Posted 1.65 10-yard dash, 2.76 20-yard dash, 4.69 40-yard dash, 32-inch vertical jump, 9’-9” broad jump, 4.30 20-yard shuttle, 7.07 three-cone drill and 26 reps at 225 pounds.

Pro:  A sixth-round draft pick (No. 176 overall) by the Vikings in 2007.  Alexander was injured in the Vikings first preseason game of 2007 and suffered a torn ACL, resulting in season-ending surgery.  Spent the entire season in injured reserve.

Positives:  Attacks plays and can fill holes quickly.  Good read and diagnose.  Can blow up plays in the hole and knock out lead blockers in the backfield.  Flashes to the ball and in pursuit.  Navigates through traffic nicely.  Above average range and good closing burst.  Good inside-out pursuit.  Drops quickly into pass coverage.  Alert in the passing game.  Can stay with tight ends and running backs in coverage.  Effective blitzer at times.  Reliable open-field tackler.  Should contribute on special teams.

Negatives:  Struggles at the point of attack.  Does not always play with good leverage taking on blockers and gets engulfed and disappears when taking them on at times.  Does not show significant pass-rush moves or pure explosiveness and speed off the edge.

Summary:  May still not be 100 percent recovered from knee surgery but has remained healthy enough to practice and compete.  Has the tools (if healthy) to provide depth and contribute on special teams.  A nice fit for the team’s defensive scheme that allows its linebackers to play off the ball and flow to the action.

What they said:

“Alexander lacks ideal height but has the athleticism, hitting ability and production to make GMs take notice.  He should become a great NFL starter on the weak side, where he has more open field with which to operate and won't have to deal with as many blockers.  Alexander also should be an immediate impact player on special teams.” – The War Room

“Alexander really struggles to play off blocks.  [He] lasted to the sixth round because he is not very tough and is not suited to play a big man's game.  He fits the Vikings' scheme well, but he may never be more than a backup.” – Nolan Nawrocki, Pro Football Weekly

“Rufus made a lot of plays for us.  He is a sure tackler with very good closing speed.  He got to a lot of ball carriers here and I don't remember very many of them getting away.  I also just enjoyed being around him.  He grew a lot as a player and a man over the course of his time here and I think that's very gratifying for him and for our coaches.  He became a leader that we depended on.” – Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops

Other links:

Vikings.com

NFL.com

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