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On Friday, Virginia Tech cornerback Adonis Alexander announced that the NCAA had declared him to be academically ineligible for the 2018 college football season. As a result, the redshirt senior will be leaving Blacksburg and submitting his name for the NFL Supplemental Draft.
The Supplemental Draft generally occurs at some point between the regular NFL Draft and the start of the season. In recent years, most players have entered this draft after being suspended, expelled, or otherwise declared ineligible for the football season. Jets receiver Terrelle Pryor and Browns receiver Josh Gordon entered the NFL through this draft – Pryor as a quarterback to the Raiders in 2011 (third-round pick) and Gordon to the Browns in 2012 (second-round pick).
The way the draft works is that teams will submit a “bid” for an available player, based on the round in which the team would take that player. These bids are equivalent to picks in the corresponding round in next year’s draft. The most recent supplemental draftee was Seahawks tackle Isaiah Battle, whom the Rams selected in the 2015 Supplemental Draft with a fifth-round pick.
Alexander was one of Virginia Tech’s best players, and his departure is a serious blow to the secondary of a team that also just announced the loss of cornerback Jeremy Webb to a season-ending Achilles injury. Additionally, linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and safety Terrell Edmunds will not be back next year, as they were selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Virginia Tech’s contests at Florida State (September 3), against Notre Dame (October 6), and against Miami (November 17) just got that much more challenging – being competitive in the ACC this year will be an uphill battle for the Hokies.
Had Alexander declared for the regular draft this season, he likely would have been a third or fourth-round selection. His worth in the supplemental draft, at this point, is still likely a third or a fourth. Alexander can play both corner and safety. He is cut from the same defensive back cloth as are Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner – big, physical corners who are most comfortable watching quarterbacks’ eyes in zone coverage. Case in point: Alexander is 6’3”, 207 lb.
Alexander is a willing tackler in the run game, and he has a knack for getting his hands on the football. He has some experience blocking gunners on punt returns, too. His top-end speed is not elite, and he is probably not best when left on an island in man coverage. Managing Alexander’s fit in the scheme will be necessary for any defensive coordinator who adds this player to his unit.
The best team for Alexander is probably the Seattle Seahawks. He would be worth a third-round pick for Seattle, a team that was expected by some to address its cornerback needs in the first round of this year’s draft with a player like Jaire Alexander (the Seahawks did add Oklahoma State corner Tre Flowers in the fifth round, but Alexander is significantly better). Especially now that Richard Sherman has left the Seahawks (and joined the 49ers, of all teams), bringing in a player with a similar play style would help Pete Carroll rebuild the once-dominant Legion of Boom in the Pacific Northwest.
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