Mackensie Alexander

No Extension Talks For Vikings, Mackensie Alexander

We heard earlier today that the Vikings were looking to lock up one member of their 2016 draft class, defensive end Stephen Weatherly. Non-first round 2016 draft picks are set to be free agents after this season, so this is a natural time to begin discussing deals. 

But while the Vikings have clearly made Weatherly a priority, a source told Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link) that there haven’t been any such extension talks between Minnesota and Mackensie Alexander. Alexander, a cornerback, was a much earlier draft pick than Weatherly, as the Vikes took Alexander 54th overall out of Clemson in 2016. Despite his draft status, Alexander has struggled for consistent playing time because of the roadblocks in front of him on the depth chart.

That being said, he did play a very large role for the Vikings last year. He made 15 appearances and six starts, racking up 43 tackles, ten passes defended, and four sacks. Overall, he played just over 54 percent of the team’s defensive snaps. He received strong grades from Pro Football Focus, grading out as their 17th-best cornerback.

As of right now, he has Trae Waynes, 2018 first-rounder Mike Hughes, and Xavier Rhodes ahead of him. We’ve heard recently that the Vikings are listening to trade offers on Waynes and Rhodes, and Hughes is coming off an ACL tear, so they might end up needing Alexander. But as of right now, it doesn’t look like they’re dying to extend him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Hundley, K. White, Hurst

Although many have assumed that the Packers will keep DeShone Kizer on their final roster — after all, Kizer is just one year removed from being a second-round draft pick, and Green Bay liked him enough to trade for him this offseason — Eric Baranczyk and Pete Dougherty of PackersNews.com believe the Packers should keep Brett Hundley and cut Kizer if it comes to that. Baranczyk and Dougherty say the game has slowed more for Hundley than it has for Kizer, and the fact that Green Bay recently traded for Kizer should not be a factor in the team’s decision (after all, the Packers were likely to cut Damarious Randall anyway if Cleveland hadn’t been willing to deal Kizer for him). Ideally, the Packers would be able to swing a trade for one of Hundley or Kizer, but failing that, the Packers News scribes think GM Brian Gutekunst should stick with Hundley, who did not play very well in relief of the injured Aaron Rodgers last year.

Now let’s take a look at a few more notes from the league’s North divisions:

  • Wide receivers Kevin White and Javon Wims both improved their chances of making the Bears‘ 53-man roster during Chicago’s preseason victory over Kansas City last night, as Adam L. Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. White, of course, was the No. 7 overall pick of the 2015 draft — and GM Ryan Pace‘s first-ever draft choice — but injuries have almost completely wiped out the first three years of his NFL career. Wims was a seventh-round selection in this year’s draft, and Jahns believes the Bears should keep both players and six receivers overall, including Josh Bellamy.
  • Although Mackensie Alexander is battling an ankle injury, he is expected to start as the Vikings‘ slot corner — and “quarterback of the defense” in head coach Mike Zimmer‘s scheme — if he is healthy, as Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune reports. However, first-round rookie Mike Hughes — who is also battling an undisclosed injury — has been pushing for first-team reps, which is fairly remarkable when considering that he did not play in the slot in college. Hughes could overtake Alexander down the line, but in any case, Minnesota appears to be well-set at the position in the long-term. Alexander, a 2016 second-rounder, has made tremendous strides in his third summer with the club.
  • Though they had been enjoying an injury- and drama-free offseason, the Ravens have been hit hard with unwelcome news over the past few days. They lost rookie TE Hayden Hurst for three-to-four weeks, they saw star CB Jimmy Smith suspended for four games — though they at least knew that was coming — and now Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic has more bad news to report. Zrebiec tweets that emerging third-year defensive tackle Willie Henry will miss several weeks with a hernia, while promising rookie safety DeShon Elliott may be out for the season with a forearm injury. Zrebiec adds that the recent spate of bad luck will impact Baltimore’s initial roster construction, because while the team will likely carry Hurst and Henry on the 53-man roster until they are ready to return, the Ravens may need to keep an extra tight end and defensive lineman until that happens (Twitter link). Elliott, meanwhile, is an IR candidate. Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com reports that Henry had surgery for his hernia and Hurst has had surgery for the stress fracture in his foot (Twitter links).
  • Browns head coach Hue Jackson wants to keep six wide receivers on the team’s regular-season roster, as Steve Doerschuk of the Akron Beacon Journal writes. Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry, Antonio Callaway, and Rashard Higgins make up four of those six wideouts, while sixth-round rookie Damion Ratley also stands a good chance. That means veteran Jeff Janis and relative unknowns Derrick WilliesDa’Mari Scott, and C.J. Board could be fighting it out for the last spot.

Vikings Reach Deals With Four Draft Picks

The Vikings have been the most active team so far when it comes to locking up their draft picks. After officially announcing the signing of German wideout Moritz Boehringer earlier this week, the team has now reached agreements with four other draftees, including second-round cornerback Mackensie Alexander, writes Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.Mackensie Alexander (Vertical)

In addition to Alexander, the Vikings have agreed to terms with sixth-round tight end David Morgan, seventh-round linebacker Stephen Weatherly, and seventh-round safety Jayron Kearse. All four players are expected to formally sign their rookie contracts on Thursday. Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News first reported word of Morgan’s agreement (via Twitter), while Tomasson had the rest.

Contract negotiations with rookie draftees are easy than they used to be, since the total value of a rookie contract, along with the signing bonus, is essentially predetermined by where a player is drafted. For the Vikings, Alexander will get a signing bonus worth about $1.4MM on his four-year contract. Morgan, Weatherly, and Kearse are in line for bonuses of about $135K, $81K, and $64K, respectively, per Over the Cap.

With five members of their eight-man draft class having agreed to terms, the Vikes will just have to get first-round wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, fourth-round offensive lineman Willie Beavers, and fifth-round linebacker Kentrell Brothers under contract. That’s expected to happen very soon.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Rumors: Cards, Giants, Cravens, Lions, Vikings

A participant in the NFL draft since the inaugural selection gathering in 1936, the Giants did not take a lineman for the first time in team history this weekend. However, offensive line was a priority going into the draft, a source tells Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, and Jack Conklin was a top-two choice on the Giants’ board before he went No. 8 to the Titans.

There were discussions here or there,” Giants VP of player evaluation Marc Ross told media, including Vacchiano. “But nobody at the time who was the highest-ranked player on our board, or close to that.”

After cutting Will Beatty and Geoff Schwartz prior to the start of free agency, the Giants spent wildly to upgrade their defense but have left their offensive front unchanged. Marshall Newhouse and John Jerry remain atop the depth chart at right tackle and right guard, respectively. Ben McAdoo told media after the draft the right side of the Giants’ line is far from settled.

Here’s the latest from the NFC coming out of draft weekend.

  • A hybrid linebacker/safety at USC, Su’a Cravens will begin his career with Washington at safety, Stephen Czarda writes for the team’s website. The 20-year-old Cravens started his career as a true freshman in 2013 as a strong safety before moving to an outside linebacker/safety hybrid role in the ensuing two seasons in Los Angeles. He compiled 10.5 career sacks and nine interceptions in three seasons.
  • Thanks to former teammate Laremy Tunsil‘s unfortunate Thursday night, Robert Nkemdiche‘s name didn’t come up much during Round 1 until the Cardinals took the polarizing Ole Miss defensive lineman at No. 29. The Cardinals did their due diligence on the former No. 1 overall recruit, meeting with him on four occasions, Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic writes.
  • Drafting for need has become a somewhat of a frowned-upon phrase in modern drafting, but the Cardinals were pleased their picks filled some of their depth chart’s key voids, Mike Jurecki of Fox Sports 910 reports (TwitLonger link). “This is not always the goal, because we said we were going to trust our board,” GM Steve Keim said, “but we filled needs with players we’re excited about. That’s not always the case when you walk away from the draft.” After Nkemdiche in the first and a second-round pick that went toward fortifying their pass rush in the Chandler Jones trade, Arizona selected two corners — Brandon Williams and Harlon Miller — and after losing Ted Larsen in the offseason selected a center in Evan Boehm.
  • Under new GM Bob Quinn, the Lions are expected to give UDFAs base salary guarantees, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports (on Twitter). This is a tactic the Lions haven’t used in the recent past, although Quinn’s former organization, the Patriots, as Birkett writes, do so often. Although the Lions haven’t unveiled their UDFA contingent yet, offensive lineman Chase Farris is expected to be among them. Birkett reports (via Twitter) the Ohio State product will have $10K of his base salary guaranteed in addition to a $10K signing bonus.
  • The Vikings are expected to place Mackensie Alexander behind Captain Munnerlyn at slot corner, Matt Vensel of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. Vensel offers that Alexander’s selection — the Vikings’ third cornerback taken in the top two rounds in the past four years, joining Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes — could bring about an end to Munnerlyn’s tenure in Minnesota after 2016. Munnerlyn was the Vikings’ top corner in 2015, according to Pro Football Focus. The 28-year-old corner is entering the final season of a three-year contract.

Pauline’s Latest: Dolphins, Cowboys, Chiefs, Giants

Here’s the latest from Tony Pauline of WalterFootball.com entering the second day of the draft:

  • After the Dolphins used the 13th pick on Laremy Tunsil, they called veteran left tackle Branden Albert and assured him he’ll remain at his current position and Tunsil will play left guard.
  • The Cowboys “covet” Oklahoma State defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah going into the second round, per Pauline, who dismisses the idea that they’re instead after Boise State linebacker Kamalei Correa or Eastern Kentucky edge rusher Noah Spence. Dallas holds the 34th selection but could end up moving down, according to executive vice president Stephen Jones (link via ESPN’s Todd Archer).
  • Clemson cornerback Mackensie Alexander is unlikely to get past the Chiefs at No. 37, reports Pauline.
  • The Giants are targeting offensive linemen and safeties entering Day 2, meaning Clemson safety T.J. Green could be a fit for the team at No. 40. Like Big Blue, the Steelers and Vikings are also eyeing safeties.

Pauline’s Latest: Browns, Top 5, Alexander, Bears

The Browns are shopping the No. 2 pick, but if they aren’t able to move it, they could end up selecting Ole Miss left tackle Laremy Tunsil and then trading nine-time Pro Bowler Joe Thomas, several general managers have told Tony Pauline of WalterFootball.com. If Tunsil to Cleveland happens, those GMs expect Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey to land with the Chargers at No. 3, North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz to become the newest member of the Cowboys at No. 4, and UCLA linebacker Myles Jack to go fifth to the Jaguars.

Here are more early round draft rumors from Pauline:

  • Despite possessing first-round-caliber talent, Clemson cornerback Mackensie Alexander could drop to the second round because of his attitude. Some of Alexander’s Clemson coaches have given him unfavorable reviews to inquiring NFL teams, and clubs are weighing whether he’d be worth a first-rounder as a result.
  • The Bears, who hold the 11th pick, are giving serious consideration to Alabama defensive tackle Jarran Reed.
  • Boise State linebacker Kamalei Correa is a possibility for both the Colts and Saints in the first round. Indy could turn to Correa at No. 18 if Georgia’s Leonard Floyd is off the board and it deems Eastern Kentucky’s Noah Spence as too risky. The Saints, meanwhile, might move down from 12th to grab Correa.
  • Utah State linebacker Kyler Fackrell could head to the Jets in the second round if they don’t grab an LB with their first selection.

Draft Updates: Jack, J. Smith, Reed, Elliott

Linebackers Myles Jack and Jaylon Smith are two of the biggest wild cards in this year’s draft, as both players have the talent to be top-five picks, but the health concerns to take them entirely off some teams’ boards.

Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News (Twitter link) spoke to one source who calls Jack a “time bomb,” suggesting that his knee issues may limit him to just a few good seasons, if that. One source – possibly the same one – also tells Bowen that Smith’s re-check showed a “drop-foot problem, caused by nerve damage,” adding that his prognosis hasn’t improved since the combine.

Not every team will agree with that source’s assessment of Jack and Smith – some teams are said to be encouraged by Jack’s latest medicals – but many other clubs will likely view those prospects the same way, meaning there’s a chance that both players, particularly Smith, could slip a little further than expected on draft day next week.

Here are several more draft updates from around the league:

  • At least three more teams are getting a first-hand look at Alabama defensive tackle Jarran Reed this week, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, who tweets that Reed will visit the Jets on Monday, the Chargers on Tuesday, and the Texans on Wednesday.
  • Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott will have his previously-announced visit with the Bears this Wednesday, tweets Ian Rapoport.
  • The Lions are hosting Clemson cornerback Mackensie Alexander for a visit today, tweets Rand Getlin of the NFL Network. Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes (via Twitter) that Detroit is actively exploring the defensive back market in this year’s draft more than most other teams.
  • Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller, who received positive reports following his medical re-check last week, is visiting the Jets today and will meet with the Panthers on Wednesday, per Rand Getlin (Twitter link).
  • Middle Tennessee State defensive back Kevin Byard, who has already visited seven teams, will visit four more this week. According to Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post, Byard is making trips to visit the Ravens, Jaguars, Buccaneers, and Panthers.
  • Boston College linebacker Steven Daniels is visiting Washington this week, and has previously worked out for the Browns and Colts, among other teams, tweets Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net.

Draft Rumors: 4/10/16

Let’s take a look at some of today’s draft rumors. We will update this page as necessary throughout the day:

  • Memphis QB Paxton Lynch will meet with the Jets on Thursday, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News (via Twitter). The Jets, of course, are still looking to bring back free agent signal-caller Ryan Fitzpatrick, but the two sides remain far apart on contract terms. Lynch is widely-regarded as one of the top three quarterback prospects in this year’s draft. Mehta confirms that Gang Green will also visit with Ohio State TE Nick Vannett tomorrow.
  • Alcorn State QB John Gibbs, Jr. worked out for the Texans at their local prospect workout yesterday, according to Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle. As we learned yesterday, prospects like Oklahoma State DE Emmanuel Ogbah and UCLA OT Caleb Benenoch were also in attendance.
  • According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (via Twitter), there are several themes emerging with regards to the top CB prospects in this year’s draft. Some evaluators prefer Ohio State’s Eli Apple to Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves III–Hargreaves has been ranked almost universally as the best corner in the draft outside of Jalen Ramsey–and some prefer Miami’s Artie Burns to Clemson’s Mackensie Alexander and Houston’s William Jackson III.
  • Western Michigan WR Daniel Braverman–who was not even invited to this year’s Scouting Combine–has already visited the Vikings, Saints, and Dolphins, and is set to visit with the Raiders, Seahawks, and Bengals this week, according to NFL Network’s Rand Getlin. (Twitter links). Braverman had a whopping 109 receptions for 1,367 yards last season.

 

NFC Draft Notes: 49ers, Rams, Lions, Saints

We took a look at some AFC-centric draft notes earlier today, so now we’ll switch focus to the NFC…

  • Clemson cornerback Mackensie Alexander is visiting with the 49ers today and will visit with the Rams on Monday, tweets NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport. Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tweets that the Rams have “serious interest” in the prospect.
  • Unless Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley or Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III fall to the Lions, ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein could envision the team selecting Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson. Depending on which players are available at the 16th pick, the writer could also see general manager Bob Quinn considering a move back in the draft.
  • Meanwhile, if Hargreaves falls to the Saints at the 12th pick, ESPN.com’s Mike Triplett said the defensive back would certainly be under consideration. The writer also list defensive backs William Jackson III (Houston), Eli Apple (Ohio State) and Mackensie Alexander (Clemson) as potential options.
  • Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times tweeted the names of several prospects who will be attending the Buccaneers local day: Jacksonville University’s Logan Williamson, Purdue cornerback Frankie Williams, Buffalo corner Marqus Baker, Purdue cornerback Anthony Brown, and Jacksonville State wideout Ruben Gonzalez.

Draft Rumors: Ramsey, Alexander, Ravens, Steelers

The Titans, who hold the top pick in this year’s draft, have scheduled a visit with Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey, writes Chase Goodbread of NFL.com. Most expect the Titans to take Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil first overall, but they’re nonetheless doing their homework on Ramsey. Should Ramsey get past the Titans, he’ll have a potential suitor in the Cowboys, who pick fourth and have already met with him, tweets Rand Getlin of NFL.com.

More draft news. . .

  • In addition to his previously reported visit with San Francisco, Clemson cornerback and prospective first-round pick Mackensie Alexander will meet with the NFC West rival Rams, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com.
  • Alabama cornerback Cyrus Jones worked out for the Ravens on Friday, as Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun tweets. Jones, who projects as a slot cornerback and a return specialist, is viewed as a third- to fourth-round pick. The Baltimore-area native has said that playing for the Ravens would be a “dream come true.” In total, the Ravens had about 40 to 50 players in for a workout, including Jones and two Maryland defenders – Sean Davis (DB) and Quinton Jefferson (DT) – Zrebiec tweets.
  • The Steelers hosted four prospects Friday – safeties Deon Bush (Miami) and Jeremy Cash (Duke), Georgia Tech cornerback David White, and LSU offensive lineman Jerald Hawkins – per Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Hawkins is the second O-lineman the Steelers have met with over the last two days, joining Indiana’s Jason Spriggs (link via Tony Pauline of WalterFootball.com).
  • The Buccaneers sent offensive line coach George Warhop to Cincinnati on Friday to work out tackle Justin Murray, reports Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link).
  • The Vikings had an assistant spend time on Thursday after Washington’s pro day with linebacker Travis Feeney, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets. Feeney had a strong showing at the combine but, unfortunately, had to undergo hernia surgery afterward.
  • Miami defensive lineman Ufomba Kamalu has picked up interest from the Chargers, Panthers, Eagles, Cardinals, and Broncos, according to Mike Kaye of First Coast News (via Twitter).
  • The Titans and Vikings met with Indiana defensive tackle Darius Latham on Friday, Pauline reports. Off-field issues, including two suspensions in college, could hurt Latham’s draft stock. If not, he might go as high as the third round.
  • UTEP defender Roy Robertson-Harris is drawing attention, having met with the 49ers and Panthers. He also has visits and/or workouts scheduled with the Raiders, Chiefs, Bears and Vikings.

Zach Links contributed to this report.