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Searching for Alexander's Safety Spot/Wagoner

Discussion in 'RAMS - NFL TALK' started by RamBill, Jun 2, 2014.

  1. RamBill

    RamBill Well-Known Member

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    Searching for Alexander's safety spot
    By Nick Wagoner

    http://espn.go.com/blog/st-louis-rams/post/_/id/8905/searching-for-alexanders-safety-spot

    EARTH CITY, Mo. -- After the St. Louis Rams used a fourth-round pick on Maurice Alexander, the initial wave of discussion centered on his interesting path from Edward Jones Dome janitor to NFL safety.

    Were it not for the team's seventh-round choice of defensive end Michael Sam, Alexander's story might have been the best story of the draft's final day. Perhaps lost in that conversation was figuring out where, exactly, Alexander fits in with the Rams' defense.

    Since the team selected Alexander, details have emerged of just how much Rams coach Jeff Fisher coveted his services. Although he doesn't come with the cache of any of the four players the Rams chose before him, Alexander does bring the type of potential Fisher and his veteran coaching staff enjoy trying to develop.

    Make no mistake, Alexander is far from a finished product. Alexander played defensive end at a local (Eureka) high school and Arizona Western Junior College. Upon arrival at Utah State, Alexander switched to linebacker where he spent the 2011 season before he was dismissed from the team for his role in a fight with a teammate.

    That was the year Alexander spent working as a janitor back home in St. Louis before earning his way back on the team. When he returned to Logan, Utah, the coaching staff asked the 6-foot-2, 212-pounder to move to safety. He'd never played the position before and in a span of four years had officially played at each level of the defense.

    The results were better than anyone could reasonably expect. He posted 11 tackles in his first start at the position and finished with 80 tackles, nine for loss and 3.5 sacks.

    “It was his first time playing safety, but he’s aggressive, big, athletic, and will hit," general manager Les Snead said. "If you look at the numbers, sacks, caused fumbles, tackles for losses. I’ll let coach tell you a little bit about. ...I won’t get into our new scheme, but there’s definitely a role for this type of player in our defense.”

    As the Rams begin organized team activities Tuesday, it will be interesting to see what that role is. In terms of physical appearance and stature, Alexander bears a resemblance to incumbent starter T.J. McDonald. Fisher has repeatedly said the Rams don't have traditional safety jobs defined by free and strong status and that safeties can be interchangeable.

    On the surface, however, Alexander and McDonald would seem a bit repetitive with both appearing more suited to playing in the box in what would be considered more of a strong safety role. That's the role Alexander played at Utah State, though he says he did play a little bit of free safety on occasion.

    At the NFL scouting combine in February, Alexander ran the 40-yard dash in 4.54 seconds, which is generally considered fast enough to cover on the back end.

    If his ticket to playing time defensively is learning to be effective playing more of a centerfield role, Alexander says he'd be happy to do it.

    “I love football, like I said. I’m willing to learn anything," Alexander said. "That year off, it taught me a lot. I know football could be over in a matter of time, like that it could be over quick. My IQ is pretty good in football. It was a hard switch, I’m not even going to lie. It’s a hard switch going from linebacker to safety, but I’m easy to coach. Coach (Todd) Orlando believed in me up there at Utah State and he taught me very well.”

    For the time being, it seems likely Rodney McLeod will get another opportunity to work in tandem with McDonald while Alexander learns his new position. Over the long haul, though, it's not out of the question that the Rams will look to pair Alexander with McDonald.

    "He’s a very, very talented player and has huge upside," Fisher said. "The drills, the combine drills in the building, the football knowledge and instincts are outstanding and we’re very excited to have him. We’ll plug him in packages and he’s one of those guys that most likely is active on Sundays as a special teamer as well, immediately.”
  2. Ky Ram

    Ky Ram Well-Known Member

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    The kid can lay the wood, there's always room on the field for a kid like that.
  3. Sum1BTRthnU

    Sum1BTRthnU Well-Known Member

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    I like the way he tackles. Not like most DBs where you see them trying to take out the ball carriers legs by diving and throwing a shoulder into their ankles...he wraps up and drives the ballcarrier.
    DaveFan'51 likes this.
  4. RamBill

    RamBill Well-Known Member

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    Scouting Report: S Maurice Alexander
    By Tevin Broner

    http://www.turfshowtimes.com/2014/6...-scouting-report-2014-nfl-draft-st-louis-rams
    (You Can See the Videos in the Article at the Link Above)

    Today I will take a deep look at safety Maurice Alexander, the 4th rounder that could make an impact.

    The St. Louis Rams decided to shock the world and draft safety Maurice Alexander in the 4th round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

    Although the Rams needed a safety, Alexander wasn't the type of safety that fans were hoping for. There were hopes that the Rams would draft a Calvin Pryor or a HaHa Clinton-Dix; instead the Rams drafted a player from Utah State.

    Not only did the Rams draft a lesser known prospect to most, but Alexander was kicked off the team for the entire year after he hit a teammate during which time he was a janitor for the Edward Jones Dome. So it's not a surprise that the Rams knew about him. Last season, he returned to Utah State and instead converted to the safety position after previously playing linebacker.

    Positives

    He's 6'1 and around 220 pounds.

    He's better playing deep coverage than expected and since he's only played there one season there's reason to believe he will develop more once he understands coverages more.

    Really has loose hips and he looks so fluid when he moves.

    He fights off blocks and doesn't get bullied

    He does have good range, he can easily cover ground.

    He's good in the box and does a pretty good job taking on blocks.

    I would like to see him become a more consistant blitzer but he does have some wow moments like this one.

    I love his motor, he's always around the ball rather it's in the air or on the ground and he never gives up chasing the ball carrier.Good recognition on running plays

    He's always around the ball rather it's in the air or on the ground and he never gives up chasing the ball carrier.

    He played safety with a cast on, and although you didn't see him wave his cast around to knock the ball down he did a good job tackling. Occasionally though he did lunge at players, but in those games he had a bigger case on.

    Negatives

    Only one season at safety.

    Needs to work on his recognition on passing plays, right now it's inconsistent, he can get there but at times he's late and either can't make a play on the ball or has to delver a tackle.

    Can he make THE play on the ball? He's biggest issue is that he doesn't deflect the ball or anything.

    Shouldn't be on a slot receiver.

    I did see him lunge at ball carriers a few times, but I contribute that to the cast.


    Summary of Alexander

    Alexander is a really physical player, that brings with him tenacity and toughness. He is pretty athletic and should be able to develop into a good center fielder because of his impressive range. He can also play in the box and make tackles. However, he is still a developmental player. He needs to get the mental part of the game down. Also, you would like to see him make plays on the ball. He supposedly had 6 pass breakups and 1 interception last season, which is good for his first year playing safety. It will be interesting to see how he plays the ball without a cast.

    How does he fit with the Rams

    I think that there's a chance that Alexander will be a surprise starter for the Rams sometime this season. It will be interesting to see how the Rams use Alexander in his rookie season. They could just play him on special teams, but after seeing how excited they were to have him I expect him to play some role on the defense. He can play inside of the box, like a linebacker on passing downs in zone, and if he develops enough you could see him starting alongside with T.J. McDonald; however, I don't think he will play safety early in his rookie season unless there's an injury.

    The Rams have preached the word interchangeable and Alexander fits the bill. I don't trust his man skills, but that's fine. With Alexander you can move him up and McDonald move to linebacker to cover tight ends or running backs, or you can have both on the field and one of them in the box while another safety plays deep. With Alexander on the team, he helps bring versatility to the other players, but I think he will be a deep single high safety. It's something the Rams use a lot.

    I'm excited by his upside, but the Rams have made picks with players with upside that haven't panned out like Brian Quick, so keep that in mind. I do think that he can be a pretty good interchangeable safety for the Rams and that they would trust him being a center fielder (single high free safety) more than they would McDonald, but like I mentioned before he will have to compete with Rodney McLeod for that starting spot.

    Alexander's development is going to be something to keep your eyes on, because he has the potential to be a good player.