The secondary was seen as a strength for the New York Giants coming in to the 2017 season. However, after a season which saw Janoris Jenkins and Landon Collins hampered by injury, the locker fractured, and an offseason that has seen veterans Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Ross Cockrell depart, the Giants have some work to do.
While “nickel” sets, with five defensive backs on the field, are considered subpackages, the fact that defenses are in them upwards of 60 percent of their snaps means that a team’s third corner and third safety are effectively starters. Because of the evolution of offenses, teams can’t afford to skimp on the depth chart in their secondary. Those guys aren’t “just” special teamers, they play defense, and play a lot.
So the Giants need to consider using a premium draft choice to add to a position that has been hit hard by off-season attrition, and is also vital for their new defense.
Louisville’s Jaire Alexander is something of a newcomer to the limelight, and a player at whom the Giants, and therefore we, should take a closer look.
- Aggressive press-man corner. Unafraid to get his hands on offensive players.
- Great athlete. Fast, agile, and explosive, with quick feet and fluid hips.
- Versatile player. Plays both left and right corner, as well as some in the slot.
- Most often in press-man, but able to play off-man or zone.
- Highly competitive.
- Offers special teams upside. Punt returner his first two years at Louisville, averaging 10 yards per return.
- Undersized. Lack of height and arm length will be a concern for some teams.
- Too aggressive at times. Can get “grabby” and will need better discipline with his hands in the NFL.
- Doesn’t create many turnovers. Only 7 interceptions in three years, five of which were in 2016. Only 1 forced fumble.
What They’re Saying
IN OUR VIEW: Alexander may lack ideal size but he is feisty as a rat terrier, winning in coverage because of his elite foot quickness, route anticipation and sticky hands and attacking blocks and ball-carriers in run support, projecting as an immediate nickel and punt return candidate with the potential to handle outside duties.
- Rob Rang (NFLDraftScout.com)
Does He Fit The Giants?
Jaire Alexander is one of those slightly under-the-radar prospects who have seized upon the draft process to elevate their stock. Before the process truly got underway, Alexander was thought of as a nice corner, but tended to get overlooked in favor of prospects who were more productive or played for better defenses at bigger programs.
But Alexander forced scouts back to his tape with an excellent combine workout, and his stock has been rising ever since.
Though he is a bit undersized, Alexander shouldn’t be relegated to the slot. He has the ability, mentality, and the game to play anywhere a defensive coordinator needs. He might get bullied a bit by bigger receivers, but he has plenty of athleticism to recover and stick in the hip pockets of most wideouts.
Alexander fits with the Giants the same way Janoris Jenkins fits with the Giants -- he might be 5’10”, 190 pounds, but his physicality and athleticism more than make up for that. Though Jenkins’ instinctive ball skills are definitely superior to Alexander’s, the Louisville product is a better and more well-rounded athlete. If the Giants are looking for a starter-quality third corner that they can line up anywhere and is a fit in James Bettcher’s fast, aggressive defense, Alexander should be considered.
Unfortunately, he is likely to be selected fairly highly in the first round -- he could be the first or second corner off the board -- so the Giants likely won’t be in position to consider him.