NFL Draft

2016 NFL Draft Player Profiles: LSU OG Vadal Alexander

As you should know by now, our attention has now shifted to the 2016 NFL Draft as it relates to the prospects. From now until the draft takes place, we hope to profile as many draft prospects as we possibly can for you. Most of these player profiles will be centered around prospects the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have interest in.

Breaking down LSU’s Vadal Alexander.

#74 – Vadal Alexander/OL LSU: 6-6, 329

The Good

– Shows some fire blocking
– Hips flexible enough to mirror edge rushers
– Good hand placement
– Understands leverage and angles on the edge
– Patient, waits for rushers to declare their move
– Understands using momentum of defenders against them
– Surprising recovery speed
– Pushes the pile for extra yardage
– Good leg drive

The Bad

– Slow to react off the snap
– Bad balance, bad on his feet
– Laterally slow
– Lacks power and anchor proportionate to his size
– Fails to block to the whistle
– Needs to find someone to block, head on a swivel
– Susceptible to being redirected inside
– Drops vision and doesn’t watch his way to target
– Doesn’t sustain blocks

Other

– Alexander seems to start games slow but improve as the action progresses
– 2015 Second and Third Team honors from SI and AP
– Four-year starter, played in 50 and started 46 at LG and RT
– Blocked for a 100-yard rusher in 28 of his 46 starts
– Was rated fifth-best OL prospect by ESPN and 247sports.com out of high school
– Combine: 5.57 second 40 yard dash, 25 bench press reps, 95.0 broad jump, 8.04 second 3 cone, 4.90 20 yard shuttle

Tape Breakdown

I have watched a lot of football tape and scouted a lot of players, and I’m honestly not sure that I’ve seen anybody move as poorly as Vadal Alexander. He’s understandably a big man, but even that that shouldn’t excuse some of his errors just in getting himself around on the field.

I can’t tell if this is a completely lazy cut block attempt or just an absolute flop by Alexander. I think it’s a cut block, but that raises even more questions. Where was Alexander’s use of his hands to swat off Chris Jones? Where was the extension and surge to the cut instead of slowly falling to the ground? Where is Alexander even looking when he should be aiming his body into the defender?

Again slow out of his stance, Alexander completely whiffs on a downhill LB in the hole. Ultimately, that linebacker is one of the Bulldog defenders who stands Leonard Fournette up at the line for the third down stop. Alexander needs to have a head on a swivel to see the defenders, and considering his assignment at LB is the first one to make contact with the back, this is a serious mistake in a phone booth for Alexander.

It’s not that Alexander has bad technique either. Here, he fires his hands inside and engages hard to the body of the defender, exactly what you’d want him to do (although his left hand creeps a little outside on the engage). However, he gives almost no effort and allows the defender to disengage far too easily when the play isn’t even close to complete.

At times, Alexander can’t set his feet and use his base, but when he does, it’s beautiful. He uses his 35 1/4″ arms and drops his anchor to hold Jarran Reed at bay. He’s even able to shuffle laterally and keep the block extended to the sideline. This is one of the few snaps I saw where Alexander truly put it all together and use his length and size to his advantage.

At times, Alexander is an absolute head-scratcher when blocking.

He has FOUR defenders within wingspan at one point or another during this play and doesn’t block any one of them. The run is away from him and goes for a long TD, but at a certain point you have to start looking at the player. That is simply unacceptable. He at least redeems himself somewhat by running downfield trailing the play.

Summary:

Alexander is a slow player on the field, mentally and physically. Whether it’s squaring up to find a linebacker in the hole, scanning a defense to pick up a blitzer, or something as simple as exploding off the snap, Alexander can’t do it. His 5.57 40 yard dash doesn’t really mean anything to an offensive lineman, but it does give reason for pause simply in that it flunks any kind of benchmark test.

It’s tricky to look at him and say that his body fits NFL molds. Tre’ Jackson and Josue Matias were highly touted guard prospects out of Florida State last year who had comparable size and movement skills (although not quite the length). Jackson went in the 4th and Matias was undrafted, so I’m not sure really what much more Alexander offers than them.

His anchor is inconsistent, his hand usage practically nonexistent. He uses angles well against defenders, but that doesn’t help when he doesn’t have the speed to match rushers. I also have serious questions about his effort blocking. After all, it’s not a good look when your running back gives greater effort on a designed roll-out to your side on third-and-long than you do.

Alexander is also limited to the right guard spot in a power scheme. He doesn’t have the footwork or athleticism to play left guard or either tackle spot, and he certainly doesn’t fit in a zone-blocking scheme. His best hope is to get a coach who can really get into his head and tease some of his potential out, because right now he’s just getting by on frame alone. I really can’t see any of the first-round talk that’s been bandied about.

Projection: Seventh Round/Priority Undrafted Free Agent

Games Watched: at Mississippi State, at Alabama, Texas Tech

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