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Supplemental Draft Prospect: Adonis Alexander

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Could this Hokie defensive back help out the Bucs’ rebuilt secondary?

NCAA Football: Belk Bowl-Arkansas vs Virginia Tech Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 NFL Supplemental Draft is just few days away and there are two interesting prospects the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could have their eyes on. Today, we’re going to take a deep dive into one such player, Virginia Tech’s Adonis Alexander.

NAME: ADONIS ALEXANDER (#36)

AGE: 21

SCHOOL: VIRGINIA TECH

POSITION: DEFENSIVE BACK

YEARS IN COLLEGE: 3 (2015-2018)

HEIGHT: 6’3”

WEIGHT: 207 LBS

GAMES WATCHED:

VT vs NC STATE (2015): 7 TACKLES (5 SOLO), 1 INTERCEPTION, 1 PASS DEFENDED

VT n WEST VIRGINIA (2017): 9 TACKLES (9 SOLO), 1 TACKLE FOR LOSS, 3 PASSES DEFENDED

*VT n OK STATE (2017): 4 TACKLES (3 SOLO)

*Bowl Game

All stats gathered from sports-reference.com

STRENGTHS:

- Able to hold his own in press, man and zone coverage

- Played primarily outside and safety at Va. Tech

- Capable of solid tackling

- Good pursuit of the ball in the air

- Trusted to play deep quarters along with shallow zones

- Rarely gets his feet crossed or losses balance

- Plays faster than timed

- Maintains good eye contact with the quarterback

WEAKNESSES:

- Doesn’t pursue the ball carrier aggressively

- Low tackler; avoids high contact

- Will jump away from a ball carrier to try and tackle him

- Doesn’t play balanced at the line of scrimmage

- Lacks physicality covering receivers

- Lacks catch-up speed; requires winning early in route

- Plays without assignment discipline at times

Adonis Alexander struggled with a hamstring injury for much of 2017 which contributed to his playing in just eight games last year, and undoubtedly hindered his performance even slightly in the games he did appear in after suffering the initial injury.

Hamstrings don’t heal overnight, so it’s a testament to his willingness to play for his team that he was out there pushing through it.

However, a lot of his weaknesses show up in games prior to the injury and of course they don’t get better after it.

For a secondary which caught a lot of flack for being ‘soft’ in 2017, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would need Alexander to play up to his size.

As big as he is, Alexander is surprisingly passive when playing in press coverage and avoids seeking out contact when it’s not required.

He tackles low whenever he gets the chance, targeting ball-carriers’ feet. Sometimes this works out:

But most of the time it doesn’t:

Against NFL players, Alexander is a hurdle highlight waiting to happen.

In coverage, he’s solid in mirroring his receiver and rarely gets beat during a route. If he does get burned it’ll be more likely he jumped on a read and was wrong, rather than getting beat by his opponent straight-up.

While he clocked slow at his Pro Day, it’s possible he was still feeling the impact of his hamstring issues and plays faster than expected when looking at his time.

He’s not a speed demon, but he has the wheels to stay with the majority of NFL players when looking at speed alone. Now, what he doesn’t have is make-up speed. If he gets beat early, it’s over unless he has top coverage.

Ultimately, he looks like a Mark Barron type who has coverage ability but is built more like a safety/linebacker hybrid. He just needs to increase his competitive toughness.

As a defensive back he looks like a strong-safety but plays better as a free-safety. His cornerback skills aren’t bad and I put his ceiling somewhere around Byron Maxwell – if he learns to play with more physicality.

Supplemental draft players don’t often come without baggage, and Alexander is the same.

Still, if I were Jason Licht, I’d be willing to float a 2019 5th-Round pick for the Buccaneers to pick up this size-adequate yet timid defensive back prospect.