Putting your players in the best position to succeed gives your team their best chance of winning. In that case, the Packers may want to consider playing Jaire Alexander primarily in the slot in 2019.
Alexander is coming off a strong rookie season in which he led the defense in pass breakups. Entering next week’s training camp, he is being praised as perhaps Green Bay’s best corner. A group that includes Tramon Williams, Kevin King, Josh Jackson, and Tony Brown.
In a lot of defenses, your top corner plays on the boundary where their coverage skills are needed to cover more of the field. However, recommending Alexander for the slot is hardly a knock on his play. Nickel defense is the modern defense of today’s NFL. In that case, Alexander is roaming near the line of scrimmage shadowing a shifty slot receiver or ready to stick his nose in on a run play. One trait that is abundantly clear about Alexander is his aggression which is what you want out of your slot guy.
In 2018, he showed he can play outside and there is no reason to hesitate playing him there in the future. That said, some of his better moments came in the slot.
Obviously, Alexander plays much bigger than he looks. Even standing at 5-10 and weighing 195 pounds he will stand toe to toe with the NFL’s most physically imposing receivers. That is what you want out of your top corner. Attitude.
Mike Pettine will play Alexander where he sees fit. Maybe that will be in the slot more times than not but also maybe not. The point is the Packers defense may see a boost from having Alexander inside. Over the last two years, this defense has failed to generate turnovers, particularly interceptions. And because Alexander has a great feel for the ball he should probably be as close to the ball as possible.
On paper the cornerback corner room looks pretty good. When healthy, King has proven he can be a reliable starting NFL corner. Williams is expected to move back to natural position of corner while Jackson and Brown are looking to build on last season. In other words, the Packers have plenty of viable options on the outside.
In the end, Alexander will do well where ever he plays but don’t be surprised to see him in the slot a lot in 2019. The young player is a budding star and has the chance to take the league by storm this season. His best chance of doing so may come from lining up inside.
___________________Brandon Carwile was a Cheesehead at birth. His dad grew up attending games at Lambeau and passed on the legacy. He has covered the Packers for over five years and currently works with packerstalk.com. Find him on twitter at @PackerScribe.