What should the Packers expect from rookie cornerback Jaire Alexander in 2018?
Jaire Alexander was drafted by the Green Bay Packers with the No. 18 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. It was a pick that excited the fans and helped improve one of the biggest weaknesses on the defensive side of the football for the Packers. Now, fans are beginning to wonder what kind of impact Alexander will have in 2018 as a rookie.
Last season, the Packers’ secondary was torched nearly every week. Following Ted Thompson stepping down from his duties as general manager, Brian Gutekunst took the job and knew that addressing the cornerback position was a must. He did so with Alexander in the first round and also Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson in the second round of the draft.
Alexander joins a very talented, young cornerback group that includes Kevin King, Quinten Rollins, Jackson, and himself. Tramon Williams was also signed in free agency to be a much-needed veteran presence for the defense.
All of that being said, what should the Packers expect from their 2018 first round pick this coming season?
During his junior season in 2017 for the Louisville Cardinals, Alexander played in just six regular-season games and dealt with injury issues. He was able to record 19 tackles, an interception, and four defended passes in those six games. Back in 2016, however, Alexander put on a show for Louisville with 39 tackles, five interceptions, a forced fumble, and nine defended passes.
Standing in at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, Alexander has received some criticism for being too small. Despite the criticism, Green Bay has absolutely zero worries about Alexander’s size. They feel that he plays much bigger than his measurements on paper suggest he could.
Looking ahead at the 2018 season, Green Bay is likely going to start King and Williams as their top two cornerbacks. Alexander will likely fit in as the No. 3 corner. That will give him a good opportunity to get brought along a bit slower without having to guard a superstar wide receiver.
Green Bay needed more playmaking in their secondary last year, which is exactly what Alexander is going to bring to the table. He has also shown some playmaking ability early on in OTA’s, even picking off Packers’ franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers. That interception may not count in the record books, but it certainly counts when it comes to fan excitement.
Jason Simmons, the Packers’ secondary coach, talked about Alexander and his interception of Rodgers, as Packers Wire shared.
“(The interception) is huge for the (Alexander). Is it a confidence booster for him, yes, but it’s also a practice, a practice in May. Let’s be honest. All those guys coming in from college look up to Aaron. They have a great deal of respect for Aaron in our room just trying to prepare them for him with all the things he can do and the way he can manipulate a defense.”
Add in the fact that Alexander is a very confident and flashy player and Packers’ fans are going to love him early. He provided college football with one of the best celebrations that has been seen in the last few years.
As for what to expect from Alexander in 2018, there are some reasonable goals to put forward for him. Reasonable predictions would be around 35 tackles, two interceptions, and nine defended passes. Those are subject to change depending on what kind of role he ends up having and could be much better.
Alexander is going to be the one fix that makes the Packers a top defense. He will be asked to form a deadly trio moving forward with King and Jackson, which should end up being one of the most dominant cornerback groups in the NFL if they can all reach their full potential.
Expect to see Alexander make big leaps throughout his rookie season. Green Bay knows that he has superstar potential and are hoping to see some of that potential shine through in 2018. It has been a long time since the Packers’ fan base had reason to be excited about the secondary.
If he can be a deadly playmaker in the secondary for the Packers as a rookie, Green Bay’s defense will take a nice step in the right direction from 2017.
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