New position suits prospect fine
It was his job to occupy space and eat up offensive linemen. Breaking the stigma that says it was all he could do was what the offseason has been about.
"That's how I was utilized in our scheme at Cal," Alexander said. "I think I'm more athletic than what people perceive me to be on film. To be able to get into a scheme where I'm able to get upfield, hit the gaps, and like I was at the Senior Bowl, I think they were able to see how athletic I was, more than just a run-stopper."
At 6-foot-3, 290 pounds, Alexander may not be asked to take on as many double teams in pro football. With that in mind, he set out to prove that he had the skills to pressure up the field and make a difference.
After putting up 29 reps on the bench press at his Pro Day, he showed he had the strength, but it was just as important to run a solid forty. He was hand timed at his Pro Day in the 4.9-5.05 range, better than the 5.17 and 5.18 he ran at the Combines.
The plan to increase his repertoire in the eyes of scouts began at the Senior Bowl. Knowing that his role would change in the pros, Alexander took advantage when they ran one-on-one drills, showing he could beat his man with strength and a touch of finesse.
While he admits he need to improve his hand technique to get the advantage in pass rushing, Alexander believes it will boil down to teaching him the subtleties and fundamentals.
Alexander grew up playing basketball and baseball and didn't get into football until he was in high school. He found out that he had a natural ability to play the sport and dropped his extra curricular activities to focus on enhancing his game.
It is pride and a sense of work ethic that has propelled Alexander to get better. Those traits are what NFL scouts and talent evaluators seek in a prospect.
He remains humble about becoming a rookie in the NFL and stresses the importance of hard work to become accepted by his teammates to be.
"It's just like with anything, high school to college, elementary to high school, you always deal with it, a new place, starting over, you always have to re-prove yourself over again," said Alexander. "My uncle always tells me that people like by ‘what have you done for me lately?' I try to live that everyday by showing guys I can play, work hard, and by doing those two things, I think guys will trust in me that I can play this game and accept me into the NFL."
Ironically, he considers himself small at 290 pounds, and that mentality has him thinking he will be utilized in the 3-techinique as opposed to a nose tackle or as an end in the 3-4.
By working hard and showing a fire on the field, he believes he can make an impact. He has received calls from teams who play both defensive schemes and figures he will go to a team that allows their defensive linemen to attack the ball.
"I think Tampa Bay, Indianapolis, Atlanta, the teams that like the smaller D-tackles went after me because I'm like that, a little smaller, someone who can run around and show a lot of energy."
The Oakland Raiders have also taken an interest in the former Bear.
But if Alexander had his way, Tampa and Atlanta would be situations he could see himself in.
"Both of those teams have great defenses and they run to the ball, use a lot of pressure, and just let the D-tackles shine athletically, get upfield and put a lot of pressure on the QB because you know that's where they make their money, sacking the QB."
A run stopper by trade talking about sacking the quarterback. When you are good at one thing, it only makes sense to perfect the other side of the trade. Alexander has spent the offseason accomplishing just that.
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