Reports have the Bengals signing a new slot cornerback in the Vikings' Mackensie Alexander, a Terence Newman protégé, and here's a stat that is one of the reasons why:
According to profootballfocus.com, the 5-10, 192-pound Alexander was on the field for 142 runs and didn't have a missed tackle last season, a number that was a plague for the Bengals last season on all three levels of their defense.
The deal, reportedly a year for $4 million, came two days after they signed Alexander's backfield mate in Minnesota, Trae Waynes, another corner known for his physicality in the run game.
The 26-year-old Alexander fits the profile the Bengals have been seeking in free agency: an experienced veteran who is heading into his second contract and fifth season as a relatively young player after taking more than 500 snaps last year. They came into free agency sucking wind on corner depth and are now breathing much easier as Waynes moves into one starting role with starters Dre Kirkpatrick and William Jackson III still in the fold and Alexander teaming with Darius Phillips in the slot.
That gives them three first-rounders in Kirkpatrick (2012), Waynes (2015) and Jackson (2016) to go with Alexander, a second-rounder out of Clemson in 2016. The move also reunites Alexander with Clemson teammate D.J. Reader, the highest paid nose tackle in the NFL after the Bengals agreed to a four-year deal with him Tuesday. According to Sports Illustrated among 41 slot corners, Alexander ranked 19th in a two-year coverage grade and produced the fourth-highest forced incompletion rate .
Newman, the former Bengal, took Alexander under his wing while he was still playing in Minnesota and then as an assistant coach for head man Mike Zimmer, the guy that brought Newman to Cincinnati in 2012 for a three-year run.