The Dallas Cowboys have added a new defender.
Just hours after losing starting cornerback Anthony Brown to a season-ending Achilles injury during their win over the Indianapolis Colts, the Cowboys have signed former Minnesota Vikings cornerback Mackensie Alexander to their practice squad.
“Cowboys added CB depth, signing Mackensie Alexander to practice squad, person familiar with move said,” said Gehlken. “The 2016 Vikings second-round pick spent part of summer in Miami before groin surgery. Healthy now. Has nickel experience. Dallas lost Anthony Brown, Jourdan Lewis for season.”
Alexander Was Highly-Rated CB in High School and College
Alexander played five of his six seasons with the Vikings along with one year spent with the Cincinnati Bengals. He last appeared on the Miami Dolphins’ roster during the preseason before a groin injury resulted in the end of his tenure there. The 29-year-old cornerback has started 25 of his 84 career appearances.
The former second-round draft pick was a highly touted player coming out of high school. In fact, he was the seventh-ranked cornerback in the nation and the 42nd-ranked player overall in the Class of 2013 coming out of high school, according to Rivals.
He parlayed that hype coming out of high school into a productive college career. During his senior season at the University of Clemson, he was named a First Team All-ACC selection and a Third Team All-American during his senior season in 2015.
Alexander’s NFL Career Has Been Less Than Impressive
Despite his success in the high school and collegiate ranks, Alexander was up-and-down during his tenure with the Vikings. The veteran has served primarily as the slot cornerback during his career, but he’s struggled over the past two seasons.
According to Pro Football Focus, Alexander posted a 41.0 defensive grade last season while allowing receptions on 56 of the 77 passes he was targeted on (72.7 percent completion rate). Among cornerbacks with at least 250 snaps, Alexander was the worst-ranked cornerback in the league last year.
His 2020 season was better, but he still posted a subpar 60.4 defensive grade while allowing 47 receptions on 67 targets for a 70.1 percent completion rate.
With that being said, he has shown the ability to be an above-average cornerback. During his 2018 season, Alexander posted a 78.1 defensive grade, ranking 17th among all cornerbacks with at least 100 defensive snaps.
Alexander’s experience combined with his ability to play in the slot are the primary reasons for his signing.
Following Brown’s season-ending injury, the Cowboys were left with Trevon Diggs, DaRon Bland, Kelvin Joseph and Nahshon Wright as the remaining healthy cornerbacks on the roster. Jourdan Lewis — the team’s former slot cornerback — had his season end back in October when he suffered a foot injury.
Team owner Jerry Jones had previously expressed little optimism that Dallas would find a veteran corner following Brown’s injury.
Via ESPN’s Todd Archer:
“Those guys aren’t out there available when you lose one. They really aren’t,” Jones said. “But we’re lucky to have that depth. You saw Bland come in and make some plays there tonight. But the one thing I think we’ve got is secondary depth. I think we have secondary depth.”
Following the signing of Alexander, it turns out the Cowboys have found a worthy veteran cornerback after all.