Mackensie Alexander is confident in his abilities. You can see it on tape. And if you you haven't seen the tape, he'll tell you about it.
The Vikings' second round pick was a shutdown cornerback on the Clemson team that went to the national title game and a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award in his redshirt sophomore season. He didn't have any interceptions in his college career but wasn't targeted a ton either.
Take a look at this play against first round pick Will Fuller. It's a perfect encapsulation of the type of player Alexander is. He'll be in your hip pocket all over the field, and when he's done he's going to let you know about it.
Alexander shadowed Fuller throughout the game and held him to only 2 receptions for 37 yards. One of those catches was when Alexander wasn't covering Fuller. (Albeit in a rain-soaked game.) Vikings fans still might be trying to figure out where Alexander will fit in a roster already teeming with cornerbacks in 2016. No matter where Alexander ends up, he'll go all out.
Even in his interviews.
On his inaugural conference call with the Twin Cities media, Alexander explained that he didn't have a ton of contact with the Vikings before being drafted but he's ready to get going. He emphasized how there wasn't much he didn't do at Clemson:
I was asked to follow the best receivers every week and eliminate them from their game plan. To win those matchups. I was asked to play inside, play zone, multiple things. So whatever the Vikings want me to do I'm ready for it. I'm going to be open to anything they ask me to do.
Alexander was a little surprised about falling out of the first round but he's already "past that" and "ready to go." Sliding into the second didn't deter him from comparing himself to some excellent players. "I would say [I compare myself to] Darrelle Revis and Jason Verrett." Mackensie thinks that his confidence comes from within based on his experiences:
I get the confidence from the work I put in. If you know you put in the work and go out and compete...I'm just working out, every day, grinding. A sick work ethic. That's what I have. My parents instilled that in me. That's where it comes from.
Alexander plans on using his second round pick as motivation but it shouldn't matter that much. "I'm a Viking now. I'm just happy man. Excited to get to know the players and win games. [Laughs]" The rookie is confident but is ready to get help from his coaches and teammates. He called himself "very coachable" and "willing to learn" from Zimmer and teammates like Terence Newman.
You have to learn from older guys who have been in the game and have done it. But as far as compete? You have to go in and compete. It's a business. I'm up for it...Whatever the coaches want me to go out there and do. Everybody competes.
A top-notch corner going without an interception in two full seasons might be a bit of a concern; that is, unless you're as confident as Mackensie Alexander.
It's not on tape, but everybody was at my Pro Day. I had a phenomenal Pro Day. I went out and showed that I can catch, I have great ball skills...I can do all the things great DBs to. I'm quick and fluid, I look natural, I do it all. I'm just happy the Vikings made this pick today and coach Zimmer believes in me and he knows about the cornerback position. I'm thankful and I'm grateful...If [the lack of interceptions] is a knock on me? That's fine. But I have a home now. I know what they're going to throw at me, with the competition, there's going to be better quarterbacks, better receivers. I'm gonna get my hands on all the balls that I can get on. Go out there and make it happen while I'm in the league.
The thought of going against fellow rookie Laquon Treadwell in practice was very enticing. "OHHH that's gonna be fun!" Alexander exclaimed. "We're gonna have fun and compete."
Speaking of competing, Alexander understands he has to prove himself but hopes he doesn't have to do it on the sidelines.
I got high expectations. I wouldn't necessarily be cool with [seeing limited playing time]. I feel like they're bringing me up here to play and to do a job. I'm up for it and I'm going to be as tuned in as possible, sitting behind the coaching staff, sitting behind Newman, guys who have played and know what to do and what to expect. I'm trying to make it the best rookie year I can have...like I said I'm just eager to get to know my teammates and win games and be ready for everything they ask me to do.
Family is very important to Alexander and he realizes that he's at this place in life because of them.
It's for my town, my community. The Haitian folks, the Mexican folks, watching this on TV. Because Lord knows every morning we'd get out there, we'd go to work and watch my parents pick oranges, tomatoes. We used to do it. For me, I grew up around people who just worked. You had to work and strive for something. Before you had to go into work you had to be in the hot sun and pick oranges, pick tomatoes, and then go work at the factory. You're around a bunch of immigrants, they don't have a choice but to go to those jobs. It was important to me and to my family for them to bring me here and have me here so I can do better for myself and eventually help them out.
And that hard work will come on special teams if need be. "I'm definitely willing to do special teams. I'm willing to do anything the coaching staff wants me to do. I'm up for the task."
If Alexander's play is anywhere near his level of confidence and enthusiasm, he's going to have a great rookie season.