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Bleacher Report – Vikings

What we’ve learned about the rookies: CB Mackensie Alexander

By Andrew Krammer

The Vikings have one more week before Organized Team Activities kickstart the home stretch of the NFL offseason.

Easing into the organization, eight drafted rookies and more undrafted rookies spent the past couple weeks assimilating into the meeting rooms, on-field drills and strength programs. Competition will ramp up starting with the month-long ‘phase three’ of the offseason, which allows full team drills, but no live contact. The Vikings begin the first OTA on Tuesday, May 24.

Before that, let’s set the stage for some of the rookies with what we knew, what we’ve learned so far and what we’re watching for this summer.

Previously: WR Laquon Treadwell

CB Mackensie Alexander

What we knew

Height: 5’10”

Weight: 190

Age: 22

Position: Cornerback

Hometown: Immokalee, Fla.

College: Clemson

Drafted: 54th overall, becoming the third top-60 draft pick at cornerback taken in the last four years by the Vikings

What we’ve learned

First impression

Mackensie Alexander is an example of how first impressions can be deceiving, especially depending on the setting. He made headlines at the NFL scouting combine for declaring he was the draft’s best cornerback in a press conference in which he also called Notre Dame’s Will Fuller ‘not that good,’ because of his college success against him. Fuller was the second receiver taken at No. 21 overall.

But the layers immediately started to reveal themselves within Alexander, the son of Haitian immigrants whose upbringing included helping his parents in Florida’s orange and tomato fields.

“That’s where the confidence comes from,” Alexander said. “Just working out every day, grinding and just having a sick work ethic; that’s what I have. My parents instilled that in me. So that’s where my confidence comes from.”

Days after being drafted, and earning a $1.34 million signing bonus, Alexander worked with Adidas to donate $10,000 worth of athletic equipment to the Boys and Girls Club in Collier County, Fla.

Starting inside, can move outside

The Vikings don’t expect to limit Alexander, though he’s viewed immediately as a slot cornerback, according to general manager Rick Spielman. That’s presumably behind veteran Captain Munnerlyn, who is entering the final year of his contract.

“I know he can play outside,” Vikings director of college scouting Jamaal Stephenson said. “But I think he has great value because he can slide inside and play nickel, too.”

Alexander was credited with 11 pass deflections in two seasons as a starter, saying he often followed the opponents’ best receiver and that quarterbacks would mostly throw away from him. He left school without a single interception, but he also didn’t allow any touchdown passes in the final 22 games, per Clemson.

“I know coach Zimmer preaches interceptions and turnovers are key,” Spielman said. “But also the one thing that I hear Zimmer preach to our players out at practice is don’t let your man catch the ball. He checks the box in that criteria.”

‘There is no plan B’

Alexander’s background was documented by ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi in this story. During his childhood in Immokalee, Fla., where many live below the poverty line, Alexander’s parents worked six long days a week for $50 combined, according to Rinaldi’s report. By the age of 10, Mackensie and his twin brother, Mackenro, were helping on weekends.

He decided to forgo his senior season at Clemson to continue helping his family, this time financially.

“I’m not doing it for me,” Alexander said. “I’m fighting for them, too.”

Alexander is one of the few NFL players from Immokalee High School and the only non-running back, joining Edgerrin James, Albert Bentley and Javarris James.

What we’re watching for

Immediate competition?

The Vikings have potential fireworks brewing between two outspoken slot cornerbacks. Though it should be noted that Munnerlyn, the 28-year-old veteran, is set to make the fifth-highest salary on the Vikings defense at $4.2 million in his contract year. So while Alexander could take a year on special teams like Trae Waynes, he said that’s not his goal.

“I have high expectations,” Alexander said. “I wouldn’t necessarily be cool with it, but I feel like they are bringing me up there to play and to do a job. I am up for it and I am going to be as tuned in as possible, sitting behind the coaching staff, sitting behind Newman, sitting behind guys who have played and know what to do and what to expect and try to make it the best rookie year I can have.

No. 1 vs. No. 2

In a 397-word answer at the NFL scouting combine about dealing with bigger receivers, Alexander brought up the importance of film work and note taking. Alexander and safety Jayron Kearse, his college teammate taken in the seventh round by the Vikings, would study film together before games.

Back in February, Alexander said he even studied former Ole Miss receiver and eventual Vikings’ top pick Laquon Treadwell even though he didn’t play against him in college.

“If I’m going against Treadwell, [whom] I’ve studied,” Alexander said three months ago. “I know who he is. I haven’t played against him, but my game plan — ‘OK, he’s a big guy. He knows how to use his body real well.’ Another guy we have at Clemson, Mike Williams, same personnel. Not very fast, but you know they’re going to give you what they’ve got. They’re very aggressive, they’re very physical, they snatch the ball in the air. I’m taking what they do best. I’m taking those jump balls away. I’m doing stuff like that. I’m making them catch shorter balls.”

The post What we’ve learned about the rookies: CB Mackensie Alexander appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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