The Washington Redskins selected Virginia Tech defensive back Adonis Alexander with a sixth-round pick in the NFL’s supplemental draft Wednesday afternoon. The move will add to the team’s depth in the defensive backfield and costs Washington a sixth-round pick in the 2019 draft, per league rules.
The 6-foot-3, 207-pound Alexander is known for his versatility and could line up at cornerback or safety while bringing size to that position group. He had 27 tackles, one sack, one interception and four pass breakups as a junior in 2017. The Charlotte native picked off seven passes during his three-year career and is a long defender that can get physical with receivers at the line of scrimmage.
There are some off-field issues coming with Alexander, including academic problems while in school and a 2016 marijuana arrest. He was suspended for three games during his collegiate career. He entered the supplemental draft after being rule academically ineligible for the coming football season.
“I can honestly say the past year, maturity has been my biggest thing,” Alexander told NFL.com in June. “I have been improving on discipline. Discipline is a big thing for me now, because nothing can really be done without discipline. And I understand that now.
“I thought I was untouchable, doing stuff I wasn’t supposed to do, but as I got older, I realized the other opportunity that I was messing up. Back then, I was probably a more in-the-moment guy. I didn’t really look ahead. But I can honestly say as I mature, I begin to think about my future before I make a decision.”
Alexander is the third Virginia Tech player the Redskins have drafted this offseason. The organization took defensive tackle Tim Settle in the fifth round in April and cornerback Greg Stroman in the seventh round. Defensive backs coach Torrian Gray has had a clear influence as a former Virginia Tech player who coached the Hokies defensive backs for 10 seasons after his playing days.
The Redskins have gone through some transition in the defensive backfield this offseason after trading away Kendall Fuller — another Virginia Tech alumnus — to the Chiefs as part of the deal that brought Alex Smith to Washington. Bashaud Breeland, the 2017 starter, signed with the Carolina Panthers in free agency, but failed a physical and remains unsigned. The team added former Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick in free agency.
In an earlier draft profile, NFL.com analyst Buck Brooks touted Alexander’s ability to “smother receivers at the line of scrimmage” and “routinely pins receivers to the sideline with the ball in the air to minimize the target area for the quarterback on downfield throws.” On the down side, Brooks noted the defensive back’s game is still a work in progress “needing to refine his footwork” and improve his movements when not running in a straight line.
The Redskins begin training camp in Richmond, Va. on July 26.