Jaire Alexander would fill need, buck trend in draft

Another mock draft, another defensive back to the Seattle Seahawks in the first round.

This time, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. gives them Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander at No. 18 in his "Grade A" mock draft that was released Wednesday.

The premise for this one is different than a typical mock draft, with Kiper's selections based off what he thinks each team should do, not necessarily what he thinks they will do. Todd McShay gave the Seahawks UT San Antonio defensive end Marcus Davenport in his version, which was released Tuesday. That's the same player McShay projected to Seattle in his fourth mock draft.

In their "Grade A" mocks, Kiper and McShay also made each team's second- and third-round picks. As an obligatory reminder, the Seahawks don't have a pick in those rounds after trading them away last year. That will give them all sorts of incentive to trade back from No. 18 to recoup some of that missing draft capital, but it's not a sure thing (Kiper and McShay aren't factoring trade possibilities into their latest mocks).

lexander (5-10, 196) is the 20th-ranked player on Kiper's Big Board and his second-ranked cornerback behind Ohio State's Denzel Ward. He was a two-year starter for Louisville who starred in 2016 with five interceptions before missing half of last season with injuries. As Kiper notes, Alexander was also a productive punt returner (9.9-yard average and one touchdown on 43 career returns).

He ran a blazing 4.38-second 40 at the scouting combine and also finished in the top five among cornerbacks in the broad jump, three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle.

Selecting Alexander would address a need for the Seahawks while also bucking a pair of trends.

Releasing Richard Sherman left a massive void at cornerback, and signing former 49ers starter Dontae Johnson on Wednesday only does so much to address it. With DeShawn Shead also gone and Byron Maxwell still unsigned, the team's other in-house options to start opposite second-year right cornerback Shaquill Griffin -- Neiko Thorpe, DeAndre Elliott, Mike Tyson, Akeem King -- have a combined two career starts between them. That's assuming Justin Coleman remains in the nickelback role.

That's why cornerback has been a popular first-round projection for the Seahawks. It would be conceivable even with Johnson now in the mix, though his addition could take some of the pressure off of Seattle to address that position early in the draft.

But it would also be a bit of a departure from the way general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll have drafted, especially if Alexander is the selection.

In their eight drafts with the Seahawks, Schneider and Carroll have never taken a cornerback in the first two rounds. Griffin, a third-round pick last year, was the highest-drafted of the nine cornerbacks Seattle has chosen since 2010.

And as Kiper notes, Alexander is undersized, particularly compared to what the Seahawks usually prefer in outside cornerbacks. Of the nine cornerbacks Seattle has drafted, all but one were at least 6 feet tall and all nine had arms at least 32 inches long. Alexander's arms measured 31 1/8 inches at the combine.

That's why Kiper mentioned Alexander as a potential option in the slot. Coleman will be an unrestricted free agent next offseason.

As a reminder, here's a look back at the players Kiper and McShay projected to the Seahawks in their earlier mock drafts: