Jaire Alexander en route to becoming a leader in Packers' defense

-- All-rookie to All-Pro?

Jaire Alexander vocalized his aspirations during the offseason, fixating his sky-high expectations on becoming one of the league's premier cornerbacks in his second year in the league.

But for now, the Green Bay Packers' No. 18 overall pick in 2018 has to focus on who's lined up across from him most of the time in training camp: Davante Adams.

Adams, the Packers' top offensive receiving target, has had the privilege of sporting a front-row seat to Alexander's development and any improvements he's made since his rookie year. If you ask Adams, he's more than impressed with Alexander's inflated levels of confidence, as well as his professionalism for such a young defender.

"I've spoke highly of Jaire since he first got here," Adams said after Thursday's practice -- a light walkthrough ahead of Friday's Family Night festivities. "I just like the way that kid operates. He walks around with his headphones on throughout the day and he's just locked in. He doesn't show up to work like he's just another guy. He takes it seriously."

Alexander played in 13 games last season, registering an interception, 66 tackles and 11 defended passes -- a category in which he led the team. On top of the three games he missed, he left three others due to injury.

As the team's starting cornerback who will see a majority of his regular-season snaps lined up against the oppositions' No. 1 receiver, it's pivotal that he's able to fend off injury in 2019 and remain as an available asset for defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.

There's no question about his talent. Being able to pick Adams' brain before and after each and every practice can only bode well in Alexander's favor.

"He'll be on his iPad and in about five minutes asking me what it was? Why I did this, how I beat him. What was I thinking" Different things like that that young guys typically aren't as interested in or don't think to ask.

"When I see him go about his business like that, it makes me excited to be on the same team."

Alexander spearheads a -- mostly -- young, inexperienced group of cornerbacks. Last year's No. 45 overall pick Josh Jackson has yet to practice in training camp, Kevin King -- another former second-round pick -- is hoping to avoid another shoulder injury after his first two seasons in the league ended on injured reserve.

The Packers also have Tony Brown at their disposal, an undrafted cornerback who ended up playing significant defensive snaps for Pettine a season ago. Tramon Williams, someone who may end up as the Packers' starting slot cornerback, is the oldest player on the roster and doubles as a free safety. They also drafted Ka'Dar Hollman in the sixth round of April's draft, and so far in camp, he's been one of the quieter standouts.

But the Packers will lean on Alexander, regardless of what the unit behind him looks like. So as long as he maintains that same level of confidence that may play a significant part in helping him take the leap to the next level in his performance.

"I love everything about Jaire," head coach Matt LaFleur said on Thursday. "I love the way he competes. He brings so much energy on a daily basis, and I think the future's bright for him.

"I think he's going to establish himself before long as one of the leaders on our defense."

If anyone would know anything about establishing themselves as a leader and vocal presence in the Packers' locker room, it would likely be Alexander's quarterback, Aaron Rodgers.

"You make plays first," Rodgers said. "That's how you get the guys to respect you and listen to you. You play through injury, you play through adversity; they're always watching. And then you get opportunities to speak up when it's meaningful and when it's authentic.

"He doesn't have fear out there. He doesn't have that 'itis' when you're a little scared when the big-time receiver comes to town. He looks for those challenges."

__________________________

Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

3 points

Comments (51)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Bearmeat's picture

August 02, 2019 at 09:38 am

If Jaire can be more consistent this year, we've got a bona fide CB1 on the roster. If Kevin can stay healthy, we've got a CB2 and maybe a 1.

The secondary has a chance to be very, very good. For the first time in at least 5 years, the talent is there. And we have a pass rush too!

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Guam's picture

August 02, 2019 at 09:45 am

I'm with you Bearmeat, for the first time in too many years we may have a defense that can stop teams. I like our OLB's and secondary a lot and that could make for a very solid defense in a pass happy NFL. I am a little concerned about our depth at ILB and DL, but I don't think Gute is done cruising the waiver wire either. I veteran ILB and/or DL and this is a deep and talented defense.

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dobber's picture

August 02, 2019 at 09:55 am

Very different CB types, too.

Alexander--and for that matter, Savage, too-- will always have to fight that "undersized" stigma. Even if he stays pretty healthy and doesn't miss more time than the average player, every time he gets dinged people will point to his size and we'll be back in the "did the Packers make a mistake" discussion...fair or not.

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dobber's picture

August 02, 2019 at 09:55 am

DOINK!

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Leatherhead's picture

August 02, 2019 at 11:18 am

The trouble is that DBs get injured, a lot. It's the position where you're most likely to miss time from an injury. They make more tackles than other positions. They're moving faster.

Kevin King isn't undersized but he's not on the field, either. You MUST be able to put 5 healthy defensive backs on the field who can tackle and cover for every one of the 1000 snaps we play on defense. If you don't, you're going to end up with Gunther covering Julio Jones in the playoffs.

We have 9 active for games so that'd be Amos, Savage, Alexander, Williams, King, Jackson as the first six. We need three more, plus one more inactive, plus one or two for the PS. We've got Greene, Brown, and Jones....that'd round out the gameday group.

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TarynsEyes's picture

August 02, 2019 at 11:06 am

For the first time in 5 years I'm actually optimistic and correct in being so about this team...as correct as I was being pessimistic the last 5 years about those teams. : )

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LambeauPlain's picture

August 02, 2019 at 09:55 am

More playmakers and increased quality depth on D should allow Pettine’s big brain to make life miserable for O coordinators and opposing QBs.

I really like our assistant coaches too. There is increased talent there too!

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Rick1's picture

August 02, 2019 at 09:55 am

The style in which he plays fits the scheme he plays in. The packers want speed on the back end to contest everything. The more speed to challenge and disrupt a offense the better the whole team is. He is terrific with the ball in the air so I think it is going to be a big year for 23!!!

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Leatherhead's picture

August 02, 2019 at 09:57 am

Our secondary looks good until injuries strike. If our starters can stay on the field it looks like a pretty good group.

Alexander had an excellent rookie season. I still wish we had taken Lamar Jackson.

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justjan's picture

August 02, 2019 at 10:02 am

I must have missed it in the article. What does Lamar Jackson have to do with the secondary?

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Jonathan Spader's picture

August 02, 2019 at 01:36 pm

Lamar Jackson was the last pick in the 1st round. Alexander was taken off the board at 18 by the Packers. We had the opportunity to trade down again and still pick up an elite athlete to develop at QB.

Edit: Explaining what Old School was saying and making an obvious connection not endorsing Lamar Jackson over Jaire Alexander. I'm thrilled with Alexander and have higher hopes for Kizer than many of the rest if you. I also would have been fine with the Packera drafting Lamar if they believed him to be the BPA. Jackson is an incredible playmaker and Rodgers isn't getting any younger.

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jeepingmakooi's picture

August 02, 2019 at 10:26 am

One that wouldn't play and didn't match anything this team had going for it.... Makes no sense to have taken Jackson

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dobber's picture

August 02, 2019 at 10:43 am

I think by midseason, people will be wondering whether QB will be a draft priority for the Ravens in 2020.

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Leatherhead's picture

August 02, 2019 at 12:44 pm

Yeah, especially since they won so many games and made the playoffs with Jackson as a rookie.

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dobber's picture

August 02, 2019 at 02:55 pm

Can't deny they went on a run there later in the year, powered more by their OL, run game, and league-leading defense than by their QB. All but one of those games was a toss-up in the 4th quarter, if I recall.

Had his moments throwing the ball, but I don't think they've caught lightning in a bottle. The defense will take a step back as did the OL and teams will put pressure on him to win games with his arm. My assertion is that he's going to struggle to do that.

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Leatherhead's picture

August 02, 2019 at 04:27 pm

He’s winning close games in the 4th quarter.

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Leatherhead's picture

August 02, 2019 at 04:52 pm

Dobber, in 2010, our #1 defense helped us go 10-6 and win a wild card spot and go 4-0 in the playoffs and win a Super Bowl.

Jackson is a real good player with the ball in his hands who moves the offense. I see nothing but upside to him. If his passing improves from his rookie season....and it usually does....then I’d pick the Ravens in that division.

In seven games as a starter, he went 6-1. The loss was overtime @KC.

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dobber's picture

August 02, 2019 at 08:49 pm

Sure, and the only other decent team he played was San Diego, and the Ravens split with them (losing in he playoffs). I'll be perfectly happy to admit it and eat crow if I'm wrong. I have a suspicion that I'm not...you have a suspicion that I am. We'll see how it plays out...

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Leatherhead's picture

August 02, 2019 at 12:46 pm

I think you're really wrong there. The Packers couldn't have benefitted from acquiring the best offensive player in the draft? The guy who is compared favorably to the former #1 pick, Michael Vick? The guy who had more rushing yards than Saquon Barkley?

And what if Rodgers hadn't been able to get up from the hit in the opener? Or this year?

It's always hard predicting the future, but no team has ever had too many good players at QB.

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Cubbygold's picture

August 02, 2019 at 02:14 pm

LJ is a career 2:1 TD:INT QB. That's not going to succeed in the NFL, and he'll likely have a short career just like every run-first QB

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dobber's picture

August 02, 2019 at 03:02 pm

I loved him in college. I actually advocated a tradeup to get him here on CHTV last year, too. But watching him play with the Ravens, he doesn't impress me as a passer...at least not yet (recognizing he was a rookie). He's going to take a lot of hits...a lot more than most other QBs. I think he's the kind of guy who makes a good backup since he's very different from most other QBs, and he's hard to adjust a game plan to.

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Leatherhead's picture

August 02, 2019 at 05:05 pm

His completion % is four points below Rodgers so it’s four catches spread over 2 1/2 games. He’s got a great arm but he could use more polish as a passer.

Of course, I want to run the ball more. Can you imagine having him and Jones in the backfield?

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Coldworld's picture

August 02, 2019 at 06:49 pm

You lost me at compared favorably to Michael Vick. Never mind Vick’s non football baggage, Vick was a supreme athlete and a mediocre QB a rocket arm and zero touch. Honestly, I don’t see the Ravens winning on his back, I see him not losing it at best. No thanks. The time may come when that’s the best we can hope for, but I’m not eager to rush it.

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Leatherhead's picture

August 02, 2019 at 12:40 pm

Thank you for explaining that Mr. Spader.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

August 02, 2019 at 04:52 pm

Anytime Old School, I've always appreciated you saying your opinion regardless of how unpopular it is. No one knows the future and the QB is the most important position not just un football but in SPORTS period. The Packers will go as far as Rodgers can take them but at least on paper he has a better supporting cast in 2019 om defense.

Rodgers has had 2 broken collarbones, multiple leg injuries. He's more likely to scramble and extend the play than he is to take the check down. We'll see if that changes in 2019. If it doesn't then for now we have Kizer and Boyle as the heirs apparent. How many more brutal hits can Rodgers take before his career is over?

Just by posting this I'll immediately be judged as "being negative". Not even close to the case. Rodgers has been superman since 2010. He keeps coming back and performing at an incredible level. I just question how sustainable that is. Yet I hope that he's able to continue to pull it off amd play at a high level throughout hos new massive contract that I never would have signed him to. Bottomline I'm thrilled Rodgers is a Packer and can't wait to see him shred in 2019. I'll be holding my breath everytime he scrambles and gets crushed.

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Coldworld's picture

August 02, 2019 at 06:55 pm

Any QB can have their career ended at any time. In most cases one can’t see it coming. While it is true that age increases fragility, I don’t see any evidence that suggests that will be this year or any particular time in Rodgers’ case. Of course, as I said I could be wrong.

That said, if Rodgers goes down, I truly do not believe LJ makes a difference. Old School clearly believes he is a game changer. I see more what Dodger observes and most commentators. That said, I may again be wrong, but we’re I empowered to run that draft again, with the benefit of hindsight, I would repeat the choice we made.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

August 02, 2019 at 07:13 pm

Coldworld,

That's exactly my point.... I'm happy with Alexander and the draft capital we got for Savage. I am optimistic and more patient with Kizer than the rest of Packer nation. With Rodgers he's been hit hard over and over again. The more times that happens the more likely it becomes that it could lead to a serious career ending injury. Look at Alex Smith last year. Is his career done? Time will tell.

If the defenee really is top 5 or 10 the way packer nation is claiming why couldn't Lamar make the difference? Either way it doesn't matter Jackson is a Raven Kizer and Boyle are Packers. For me I still would want Taysom Hill but what's done is done.

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flackcatcher's picture

August 03, 2019 at 12:44 pm

Ravens changed their offensive scheme mid season for Jackson to match his talents. Caught a lot teams by surprise. That element of surprise is gone now. Besides, running a variant of Run and Shoot is a death sentence for QB in the NFL.

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dobber's picture

August 02, 2019 at 10:45 am

"Our secondary looks good until injuries strike. If our starters can stay on the field it looks like a pretty good group."

I think the same could be said of virtually every team in the NFL.

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kevgk's picture

August 02, 2019 at 10:54 am

dobber coming through with the truths in this thread

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Coldworld's picture

August 02, 2019 at 11:04 am

I like our depth better than most, at least at CB. At safety a lot depends on Greene and Jones. If Jones can solidify the 3rd ILB then Greene looks promising as strong safety depth. Jamerson maybe, but need to see how he is used and how he does.

At FS, Tramon is probably first up after Amos if Savage goes down at this point. That’s ok, but then we open the SS depth to exposure. I think perhaps Brown, Jackson or Redmond will step up. I have to think one or more and maybe Jamerson is in that mix as well All showed coverage skills facing the QB in the past.

We need at least one to emerge at FS in my view. Ideally it would be nice to have another SS emerge, and if Greene has to be 3rd ILB because Jones does not make it, another SS will be essential. Otherwise we may need to add unless a dark horse pick up such as Matthews or Tyson shows in camp, both are SS types. This was always going to be an area where we needed people to step up.

Having two genuine starters is in itself a massive step up from recent years.

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Leatherhead's picture

August 02, 2019 at 12:37 pm

Maybe. But some teams seem to have better, more capable backups than others. And some secondaries, like ours, last year, are not able to put 5 guys who can cover and defend out there to begin with so injuries just mean one inadequate guy replacing another.

Our secondary wouldn't look as good if Jones has to fill in for Savage and Brown has to replace Alexander, for example. I guess it's my way of saying I want more quality CBs on the roster.

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dobber's picture

August 02, 2019 at 03:00 pm

I think TT said it: you can never have enough good cover guys.

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flackcatcher's picture

August 03, 2019 at 12:51 pm

Credit to Gute and his front office team for rebuilding the secondary on the fly. His making signing and drafting DB brought depth the the most critical positions in today's NFL, and he did it without compromising other positions on the team for now.

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Leatherhead's picture

August 02, 2019 at 01:51 pm

Drat

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Leatherhead's picture

August 02, 2019 at 01:51 pm

Curses

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Coldworld's picture

August 02, 2019 at 06:57 pm

It’s an interesting take Old School, I give you that. For what it’s worth, I can see us taking a QB next year.

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RCPackerFan's picture

August 02, 2019 at 10:15 am

I can't wait to see our new defense. With the additions at pass rush and the new safety's, I can't wait to see how they come together.

But the part that excites me the most is seeing some of our returning players with the additions we made. One of those guys is Alexander. He has pro bowl level talent. He has the swagger to be great.

I think Alexander takes a big jump in year 2. I can't wait to see it!

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Cubbygold's picture

August 02, 2019 at 02:19 pm

I hope he does. It would be nice to look forward to big matchups where its our defense shutting down a key piece of the other teams offense.

Theilen
Cooper
Hill
Brown
Allen

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sbransbottom's picture

August 02, 2019 at 11:20 am

I love the attitude Alexander brings to the team. It's a fire we've needed for some time now.

I do worry a little about the depth at FS/SS but what I'm most excited about is the speed we have in the secondary now. Also, a lot of teams 2.5-4 seconds to allow plays to develop downfield. Regardless of how good a secondary is, they can't cover receivers for 5+ seconds. With our revamped front and pass rush, I don't see opposing QBs having time like that. I predict our defense to be top 10 this year, if not top 5.

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JohnnyLogan's picture

August 02, 2019 at 11:32 am

What will make our defensive secondary better is the pass rush of Z'darius Smith, Kenny Clark, and Rashan Gary. I predict those three by midseason will be monsters at attacking the QB.

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Cubbygold's picture

August 02, 2019 at 02:23 pm

And in turn, competent play in the secondary will create opportunities for the pass rush.

I'm excited, but after releasing Daniels, GB is last in defensive spending in the NFL. The rookies are going to play a big role, but I think I have to put my green and gold glasses on to think this team is a top 10 defense

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Coldworld's picture

August 02, 2019 at 07:00 pm

That’s because we have a lot of rookies. With an Uber premium QB, hitting in the right players on initial contract is the only way to truly compete. Now let’s see if we hit on enough.

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stockholder's picture

August 02, 2019 at 11:36 am

The latest observation says it all. The harder the task, the greater the reward. Regardless of his size or struggles, he's making it BETTER. He wants to win. And thats the appealing part of Alexander. Champions have fun. This secondary needs him to be that leader. Happy days are returning to Green Bay. Alexander is giving the packers a very nice return on their selection.

5 points
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Packer_Fan's picture

August 02, 2019 at 11:45 am

That is what we as fans need. One or a few young players on the defense to step up and perform like all pros. Other than Clark and perhaps Daniels before him, it has been a long time. I hope that happens this year both on defense and offense.

4 points
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JohnnyLogan's picture

August 02, 2019 at 11:49 am

What will make our defensive secondary better is the pass rush of Z'darius Smith, Kenny Clark, and Rashan Gary. I predict those three by midseason will be monsters at attacking the QB.

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IceBowl's picture

August 02, 2019 at 11:59 am

I am more concerned about JA being a leader in passes knocked down and interceptions. Tackles and sacks would be a nice addition too, but not as important.

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Coldworld's picture

August 02, 2019 at 07:01 pm

Tackles are pretty important. I don’t care if Jaire never gets a sack personally.

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Packers2020's picture

August 02, 2019 at 12:12 pm

Well there really is no reason our D should not be better.

DL- Same as last year or better
OLB- Better
ILB- Same or better
CB's- Same or better
Safety- Better

I am basing this off of the FA adds, the players who were 1st year players that are now in their 2nd year, and the veterans that were in those positions last year. If our D does not jump to around the top 10 or inside the top 10, there is something wrong.

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Cubbygold's picture

August 02, 2019 at 02:26 pm

I hope you're right. I said this above, but GB has the lowest payroll of any defense in the league. Would be super impressive to produce a top 10 defense out of that lack of spending and inexperience.

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sbransbottom's picture

August 05, 2019 at 12:48 pm

Don't forget the new position coaches. From what I've read and heard from them, they are pretty sharp.

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