The Green Bay Packers have begun rebuilding their secondary. Green Bay first traded down and then moved back up in the first round to select former Louisville defensive back Jaire Alexander with the No. 18 pick in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
2018 NFL Draft: Jaire Alexander taken by the Green Bay Packers
Coming into the draft weekend, Alexander was projected as a late first or early second-round pick. He arrived at Louisville as just a 3-star prospect, but he left a star, making the All-ACC preseason football team last summer.
That came on the heels of Alexander’s fantastic 2016 season, where he recorded 5 interceptions and 9 pass breakups as a sophomore. Alexander missed half of the 2017 season because of leg and hand injuries, so he didn’t live up to his lofty 2017 preseason expectations, but he still posted 19 tackles, 1 interception and 4 pass breakups in 7 games.
Without Alexander for much of the 2017 season, Louisville struggled defensively. The Cardinals finished in the bottom half of the ACC in practically every meaningful defensive category except takeaways. Louisville ended the season 10th in pass defense in the conference, giving up 224.7 passing yards per game.
There were more variables between both seasons than just Alexander’s healthy, but when he played every game in 2016, Louisville allowed 207.1 passing yards per contest, which was fifth-best in the ACC that season.
NFL.com ranked Alexander as the No. 4 cornerback available in the 2018 NFL Draft behind only Ohio State’s Denzel Ward, Auburn’s Carlton Davis and Iowa’s Josh Jackson. UCF’s Mike Hughes rounded out the top five at cornerback from NFL.com at No. 5.
On draft day, Alexander ended up becoming the 18th player off the big board at cornerback.
The Packers hope Alexander can have a similar impact on their defense. Green Bay finished No. 23rd in pass defense during the 2017 NFL season.
Louisville could see two players taken in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. The Cardinals are still waiting on quarterback Lamar Jackson to go. He should be the next quarterback off the board.
Jackson should be selected at some point in the first round or early on Day 2. That’s quite a rebound for the Cardinals after they didn’t have a single player taken in the first five rounds during the 2017 NFL Draft.
But despite the poor 2017 draft for Louisville, this is still the fourth time in the last five years the Cardinals saw one of their players taken in the first round of the NFL draft. With Jackson and Alexander going in the first round, it’s the first time since 2014 that Louisville had multiple players go in the first round.