Clemson is enjoying a great season thus far and are squarely in the mix to make a run at a National Championship. Throughout this team success several players have helped their draft stock. Defensive backs Jayron Kearse and Mackensie Alexander are two of those players really shooting up draft boards.
I’ve recently broke down two games of both prospects and came away unimpressed. These two have plenty of natural talent but also come with question marks. I need to see a few more games to finalize my opinion, but at this point neither are in the 1st-round mix on my board.
Kearse is a long and athletic safety prospect who shows the ability to cover a lot of ground. He features the long speed and short-area burst to make plays from sideline to sideline. However, there’s a lot of hesitation to his game.
He appears slow to make reads while also showing a tendency to make poor choices in his run support. Kearse isn’t an aggressive run defender where he is reluctant to take on blockers and often takes a poor path to the football.
His lack of consistency as a run defender will be something that causes problems at the next level.
Alexander is an average sized cornerback who sees time in the slot and on the outside. He shows solid instincts and ball skills. However, Alexander can get lost and allow open receivers when asked to play zone.
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This means that his best fit would be in a system that runs a lot of man coverage. He does still need work in this area– especially focusing on playing less with his hands to ensure he avoids pass interference penalties.
Like Kearse, Alexander needs to improve his tenacity as a run defender. He doesn’t take on blockers preferring to retreat and give ground. This clip shows Alexander giving ground and allowing the running back to easily pick up the first down:
As I mentioned earlier, I still have work to do on both these prospects. There’s sure to be things that I like and dislike as I continue to watch more tape. However, the concerns I’ve mentioned are unlikely to dissipate.
It might be in both players best interest to return to school for another season.