When the Minnesota Vikings drafted Clemson cornerback Mackensie Alexander in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, they bagged the self-proclaimed best cornerback in the class — and for good reason.
Playing primarily on the outside during his tenure with the Tigers — 1,346 of his 1,535 defensive snaps, to be exact — Alexander allowed just 38.9% of passes into his coverage to be caught over his two college seasons, the second-best rate among the 122 cornerbacks with at least 100 targets from 2014-2015.
However, the Clemson product's NFL future wasn't looking so bright after his first two seasons in Minnesota. After playing all of 116 snaps as a slot cornerback in college, he was moved inside to the slot for his rookie year, and he struggled as a result.
Over his first two NFL seasons, Alexander played 244 of his 340 coverage snaps from the slot and just 81 snaps out wide in his more familiar position. In that span, he allowed a total of 29 receptions from 48 targets in coverage for 346 yards, one touchdown and 20 first downs. He stumbled to overall grades of 47.5 and 54.1 in 2016 and 2017, respectively, and among the 62 cornerbacks who played at least 150 slot snaps in that two-year span, Alexander ranked 44th in coverage grade (62.0), 16th in yards allowed per coverage snap (1.01) and 26th in coverage snaps played per reception allowed (9.8).