Green Bay Packers: Which draft pick could have most impact?

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 26: The Green Bay Packers logo is seen on a video board during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 26: The Green Bay Packers logo is seen on a video board during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT /
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Jaire Alexander is cover corner Mike Pettine wanted

Green Bay wants to go back to their roots of having long, rangy corners on the outsides. But that didn’t stop them from selecting Jaire Alexander (5-foot-10, 196 pounds) with their first pick in the 2018 draft. Alexander, who barely eclipses 5-foot-10, figures to do most of his work against slot receivers. Fellow rookie Josh Jackson (6-foot, 192 pounds) will battle to be the starter opposite of second-year man Kevin King (6-foot-3, 200 pounds).

Even though the Packers drafted two corners, their play styles differ completely. Alexander’s niche is centered around man-to-man coverage, while Jackson specializes in zone coverage. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just they were asked to do two completely different things in their respective roles. Alexander’s play was heavily reliant on following the opposing team’s No. 1 receiver, while Jackson’s role was predicated upon protecting his portion of the field.

Based on the past, we can infer that Mike Pettine will use man coverage as a staple in his defensive packages. This is where Alexander comes in. According to Pro Football Focus, in the 2017 season, he allowed a passer rating of only 17.7, and broke up or intercepted more throws (six) than he allowed to be caught (five). The level of competition will be much higher in the NFL, but Alexander is certainly up to the task.

One of his greatest traits is his speed. At the NFL combine, he ran an impressive 4.38 40-yard dash, which also shows up when you watch his tape. His quickness and agility positions him to defend the ball when it appears almost impossible. Alexander’s greatest downside is his size, which isn’t something he can really control. He also has a bit of an injury history, but with great risk comes great reward.

In a division with slot receivers like Stefon Diggs, Golden Tate, and Taylor Gabriel, Alexander is the perfect candidate to shadow these fast-twitched wideouts. Green Bay has struggled in the past with smaller receivers and Alexander should be a remedy to that problem. With Jackson and King covering bigger receivers on the outside, the potential is enormous.

The Packers also recently brought back familiar faces in Tramon Williams and Davon House. Williams has talked extensively in the past about the importance of mentorship in developing younger players.

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With Williams and House in the fold and several other new defensive pieces to surround him, Alexander should have a stellar rookie season. The ceiling is high for Green Bay’s 2018 first round pick. It’ll be up to him to show it on the field.