PFF Picks ‘Bounce-Back Candidate’ for Packers

A two-time All-Pro, Jaire Alexander’s 2023 season was sidetracked by injuries and a suspension. He could be primed for a bounce-back season.
Jaire Alexander catches a pass in front of Xavier McKinney at Packers OTAs.
Jaire Alexander catches a pass in front of Xavier McKinney at Packers OTAs. / Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – Other than quarterback Jordan Love, there might not be a more important player on the Green Bay Packers than cornerback Jaire Alexander. After a rather dismal 2023, the Packers need him to return to his lockdown ways.

At Pro Football Focus, Bradley Locker picked a bounce-back candidate for all 32 teams. Alexander was his selection for the Packers.

“Alexander talks a lot of smack, and he regularly backs it up,” Locker wrote in a bit of his synopsis. “Alexander’s track record has been stellar. With a clean bill of health, the 27-year-old should instantly boost a revamped Packers defense looking to return to its fierce ways.”

Alexander has played a lot of high-level football. A first-round pick in 2018, he ranked among the NFL leaders with 17 passes defensed in 2019, was an All-Pro in 2020, a season capped by two interceptions of Tom Brady in the NFC Championship Game, and an All-Pro again in 2022, when he set a career high with five interceptions.

However, last season was a disaster. He missed nine games due to back and shoulder injuries and a 10th game following a suspension.

When he did play, he wasn’t even close to his standard. By PFF’s coverage numbers:

2018: 64.6 percent completions, 94.0 passer rating.

2019: 55.7 percent completions, 87.3 passer rating.

2020: 50.7 percent completions, 68.3 passer rating.

2021 (played in only four games): 57.9 percent completions, 92.7 passer rating.

2022: 60.6 percent completions, 66.2 passer rating.

2023 (played in only seven games): 72.7 percent completions, 124.1 passer rating.

For the new defense being installed by coordinator Jeff Hafley to succeed, a bounce-back season from the team’s best cornerback is practically a necessity.

“I can’t really speak on what happened last year, and in the past, but when I’ve gotten here and Haf’s gotten here, we’ve seen nothing but his best,” defensive passing-game coordinator Derrick Ansley said before the start of OTAs. “He’s been in here two or three weeks before we started Phase 1, working with the strength coaches, getting ahead. Phenomenal attitude. He’s been here every day for Phase 2.

“He’s leading that group the right way. He’s breaking down the groups. A lot of energy every morning. He’s been the same guy, so he’s been a joy to work with that way. We’re proud of that. We don’t take that for granted and we expect a lot out of him because he’s got a lot to give.”

That “been here every day” part is important. Last offseason, Alexander skipped the offseason workouts. His season bottomed out when he was suspended for a primetime showdown against Justin Jefferson and the Vikings after appointing himself captain for a must-win game at Carolina.

“We’ve got a long way to go, but he seems to be in a great space right now,” GM Brian Gutekunst said after the draft.

In the NFC North, Locker picked former Minnesota defensive end Marcus Davenport for the Detroit Lions. For the Vikings, he picked former Packers running back Aaron Jones.

“If he can avoid more injuries, Jones could shoulder an even higher carry proportion in his first year in Minnesota, particularly because there aren’t exactly running backs equivalent to A.J. Dillon,” Locker wrote. “Jones should prove key in helping either Sam Darnold or J.J. McCarthy, given Kevin O’Connell’s affinity for play action.”

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Bill Huber


Bill Huber, who has covered the Green Bay Packers since 2008, is the publisher of Packer Central, a Sports Illustrated channel. E-mail: History: Huber took over Packer Central in August 2019. Twitter: Background: Huber graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he played on the football team, in 1995. He worked in newspapers in Reedsburg, Wisconsin Dells and Shawano before working at The Green Bay News-Chronicle and Green Bay Press-Gazette from 1998 through 2008. With The News-Chronicle, he won several awards for his commentaries and page design. In 2008, he took over as editor of Packer Report Magazine, which was founded by Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Nitschke, and In 2019, he took over the new Sports Illustrated site Packer Central, which he has grown into one of the largest sites in the Sports Illustrated Media Group.