It’s time to give Head coach Jeff Fisher and General manager Les Snead some props or rather Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. They absolutely aced the pick of Maurice Alexander. Yes, it took him a bit to finally grab hold of the starting job but right now he’s among the best at the Free safety position and for anyone wondering why there was no signing of Dashon Goldson or Donte Whitner? He is the pure reason why. Whitner and Goldson would want some serious money and some serious playing time but, with Alexander looking as great as he has been this year the Rams decided to bet against themselves and go all-in on Alexander and it’s paying huge dividends.
Alexander for many that don’t know him or where he came from started at Arizona Western college. He started off as a Defensive end believe or not until he transferred to Utah State when he switched to Linebacker. Shortly after Alexander got into a fight at a party with a teammate and ended up putting him in the hospital requiring multiple surgeries.
It’s not a totally horrible story however, clearly this man made work of his second chance. After the fight he obviously faced assault charges and was kicked off the team. During his time away from Utah State he worked as a janitor in St. Louis at the Edward Jones Dome. Crazy enough that’s where the Rams used to play and when he came back from his dismissal and suspension from the team he made enough noise (on the field) to catch the Rams attention as a Safety.
And by the Rams attention it’s more geared at the aforementioned Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams attention who by all accounts went nuts in the war room over picking the young, raw and risky prospect. Williams has explained to everyone that Alexander is going to have a hard time learning the NFL game but when he does he sees him being a player like the late great Sean Taylor.
The Rams chose him in the fourth-round of the 2014 NFL draft off of Williams endorsement. He originally started off as a Special teams contributor but now he’s starting for the Los Angeles Rams at Free safety, a position that was manned by former undrafted-free agent out of Virginia and now a Philadelphia Eagle, Rodney McLeod.
How good has Alexander looked though? Well, for starters he is rated the fourth-overall Free safety in the league per Pro Football Focus grades with a total grade of 84.1. He has shown the ability to use his size and speed to his advantage as he is 6-foot-2 and runs a 4.5 40-yard dash. The crazy thing with Alexander is that he is just 26-years-old, he is just learning how to be a Free safety since in reality he is more at home as a Strong safety (but it’s currently manned by T.J. McDonald). Alexander is improving in coverage and while he has the obvious ability to be the hard-hitting turnover forcing player. He also has shown his ability to blitz in Williams extremely aggressive defensive scheme.
Alexander has played a total of 365 snaps which is the second-highest of any Safety in the NFL. That shows how impressive he has been and why his grade is a legitimate reason to think highly of him. Of those 365 snaps, 213 (eighth most among Safeties) are coverage based in which he ranks 13th in the league in coverage (not bad for a true Strong safety), 124 (18th most among Safeties) are run based in which he ranks 34th against the run and finally the rest of the snaps 28 (3rd most among Safeties) are pass rush based in which he ranks 1st in the league in rushing the passer. That’s ahead of his teammate T.J. McDonald who leads the league in pass rushing snaps with 39 but is ranked 17th overall in those situations.
Previously it was McDonald who looked like the rising-star at Safety but while everyone was praising McDonald’s return they forgot that Alexander was doing the same things at a more efficient pace. Alexander has maintained position in the top 10 among all Safeties graded by PFF all year. McDonald however, has fallen over the last two weeks down to 32nd which isn’t horrible considering the fact it’s all Safeties and not just his lone position but still Alexander is absolutely seizing his opportunity in L.A. and running away with it.