The Bengals made some major changes defensively in the 2020 offseason and there was a clear focus on pass defense.
Among the additions is slot cornerback Mackensie Alexander. He comes to Cincinnati after a successful start to his career with the Minnesota Vikings and steps into a key role within the Bengals defense.
The Bengals defense struggled greatly in 2019 and the success of the unit in 2020 will hinge greatly on the success of newcomers like Alexander.
Hometown: Immokalee, FL
Experience: 4 years
The Bengals signed Alexander to a 1-year $3,953,125 contract this offseason. The market for slot cornerbacks does not reflect the importance of the position. As a result, the Bengals signed Alexander for a phenomenal value.
After a successful career at Clemson Alexander was selected in the 2nd Round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings . There he played for former Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.
After playing a limited role in his rookie season, Alexander became the team’s starting slot cornerback in 2017. He continued to fill this role throughout his time with the Vikings and was consistent against both the pass and the run.
In the past 2 seasons, Alexander has averaged over 40 tackles. In 2018, he had 4 sacks and he has 2 career interceptions. Per Pro Football Focus, Alexander was the only defensive back to play at least 500 snaps in 2020 and not miss a single tackle.
.@PFF's highest-graded slot cornerback Weeks 11-17, Mackensie Alexander really turned the corner in '18.— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) May 17, 2019
His confidence/understanding at/of the position skyrocketed, imo.
Passing off the deeper route to stay underneath for the PBU here was one of several signs of that. pic.twitter.com/xhKILT7bBl
Outlook for 2020
Alexander is a talented pass defender, consistent in run support, and has been relatively durable in his time in the NFL.
In Cincinnati, Alexander steps into the role that became available with the departure of longtime slot cornerback Darqueze Dennard.
The Bengals, and the NFL in general, spend the majority of their time in nickel defense and a substantial amount of time in dime as well. Although he may not be credited with many starts, he will be a starter.
Alexander is an excellent pass defender who has the agility and quickness to effectively cover quick slot receivers in man coverage and processing skills to succeed in zone coverage. He is also productive in perimeter run support and has shown some burst blitzing off of the edge.
He steps into a key role within the Bengals’ defense. Alexander, along with fellow defensive backs Trae Waynes and Vonn Bell, joins William Jackson, Jessie Bates III, and Shawn Williams looking to restore a secondary that struggled greatly in 2019. This transformation will be a key to success for the Bengals in 2020.
Warning: This clip contains NSFW language
Since Leon Hall’s ascension to becoming the league’s premier slot defender, the Bengals have maintained a strong reputation at that position. They signed Alexander to uphold it, and his one-year contract represents excellent value.
A more interesting conversation than whether or not Alexander will make the roster is if he will prove himself indispensable and be offered a long-term deal at the end of the season.
Roster Odds: 100%