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Scouting Jets UDFA defensive end Deslin Alexandre

Taking a look at a Jets defensive line prospect

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 28 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Between now and preseason, we’ll be breaking down the Jets’ undrafted rookies. Today, we break down former University of Pittsburgh defensive end Deslin Alexandre.

The 25-year old Alexandre is listed at 6’3” and 264 pounds. He was a two-time all-ACC honorable mention after a five-year career which saw him rack up 131 tackles, 29.5 tackles for loss, 16.5 sacks and seven pass break-ups.

Background

Alexandre was a three-star recruit out of high school and enrolled at Pitt in 2017, although he red-shirted his first season.

In 2018, he mostly just played special teams, but did record five tackles, with one for a loss, on defense.

2019 saw him move into a full-time starter role and he racked up a career-best 10.5 tackles for loss as he ended up with 38 tackles and 5.5 sacks.

His role changed slightly in 2020, though, as he saw more reps inside and only started twice. He ended up with 18 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and three sacks.

Over the next two seasons, he went back to being a starter and was an honorable mention all-ACC selection in each year. He had a career high 41 tackles in 2021 as he started 11 of 12 games but ended up with just 2.5 sacks. However, in 2022, he had 5.5 sacks despite missing four games to tie his career high.

Alexandre was a combine snub but was invited to participate in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, at which he batted down a pass and had a run stop but did not generate any pressure. After going unselected in the 2023 draft, Alexandre signed an undrafted free agent deal with the Jets that includes $20K in guaranteed salary and a $15K signing bonus.

Now let’s take a look at what Alexandre brings to the table, divided into categories.

Measurables/Athleticism

Alexandre has solid length with an 82-inch wingspan. His weight has been as high as 285 pounds after he had been 235 at the end of his high school career. He weighed in at 264 at his pro day.

Most of his workout numbers were about average for the position, including a 4.83 in the 40-yard dash and 23 bench press reps. His three-cone drill was above average, though, at 7.07.

Usage

Alexandre primarily lined up outside the tackle at Pitt, but he did play some three-technique in 2019 and lined up inside from time to time in 2020. Scouting reports that indicate he was a defensive tackle are inaccurate, though, as he basically only played that position in two 2020 games due to injuries, other than the occasional one-off rep here and there.

Motor

Alexandre is a player who will battle in the trenches and chase down plays in the open field, although there are examples of him getting controlled or taken down by his man and effectively taken out of the play.

Here’s a good example of him continuing to work to get himself a sack after initially being blocked.

Pitt rotated their linemen regularly, although he did show he’s capable of handling a starter’s workload by playing over 55 snaps twice last season.

Pass rush

Alexandre hasn’t really posted outstanding pass rush numbers, but his production has been solid as he’s averaged over four sacks per year in the past four seasons. His pressure rate in 2022 was the best of his career and the first time he’s averaged more than one pressure every 10 pass rush attempts.

Generally speaking, Alexandre tends to rely on power rather than speed or technique coming off the edge, but does show some explosion in his get-off when he can time it right.

One thing he’s adept at is stunts, as he shows an ability to turn his body so the blocker has less of an area to get his hands on, enabling him to slip past blocks or through gaps.

Run defense

Alexandre has mostly been solid against the run, although predictably he is more dominant when blocked by tight ends and is more likely to be driven off the line or end up on the ground when he lines up inside.

He displays a willingness to get in on stops and a good ability to explode into the backfield and make plays.

Alexandre moves well laterally and displays hustle in pursuit. He stays at home and breaks down well to make the play here.

In the trenches, he can be controlled at the line sometimes but here’s a play where he holds his ground and then manages to avoid being taken out by a pulling lineman.

Footwork/Technique

Scouting reports indicate that Alexandre is a little one-dimensional as a pass rusher, using power off the edge as his primary weapon and often lacking in a plan when his first move is repelled. At times he needs to do a better job of staying low as he comes out of his stance and engaging the blocker with accurate hand placement, otherwise he can be easily controlled.

He did show signs of an ability to adjust, react and counter on this play where he remained under control and set himself up expertly.

Both against the run and when rushing the passer, Alexandre can have some success with a swim or arm-over style move.

Alexandre’s footwork and balance are perhaps a work in progress but would benefit from him playing with a wider base. He can be somewhat stiff when changing direction too.

Special teams

Alexandre has seen some action on special teams, mostly early on in his career, as a blocker on the kick return unit and placekicking unit. He’s also had a chance to rush kicks and punts but hasn’t covered kicks.

He had one special teams penalty in his redshirt freshman season but otherwise hasn’t really made any significant contributions.

Tackling

Alexandre has been relatively productive as a tackler, although he did not record any forced fumbles in his college career. He is effective at using his long arms to wrap up and bring down ball carriers.

Alexandre only had one missed tackle in 2022 so his tackle efficiency has been good. The exception to this was in 2020 when he missed eight tackles in the last six games. However, that represents half of his career total.

Coverage

Alexandre has only dropped into coverage a couple of times per season and has never been directly targeted. He has seven passes defensed in his career, but these were all from deflecting or batting down passes at the line. Some sites credit him with one career interception but this is an error.

On this play, Alexandre doesn’t quit on the play after the quick pass as he drops and hustles to get in on the tackle.

Instincts/Intelligence

Alexandre is obviously smart as he graduated before his senior year and was a three-time member of the all-ACC Academic Football Team.

He displays these qualities on the field as you can see he maintains good eye discipline when engaged with a blocker. Here’s a play where he reads and reacts well.

Alexandre can also be fooled by misdirection and play fakes sometimes. This play saw him misread whether the ball had been handed off at the mesh-point and he went to the wrong player leaving a gap in behind him.

He jumped offside just once in 2022.

Attitude/Demeanor

Alexandre is another outstanding character, who was recognized for his work in the community as the 2022 winner of the Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year award. He was also a leader that was a two-time team captain for the Panthers.

His on-field discipline has been excellent with just two penalties in each of the past three years. He did have a personal foul for roughing the passer last season, though.

Injuries

Alexandre’s health at Pitt was generally fine, as he played in 58 games. He did miss the opener in 2019 and then suffered an arm injury that caused him to miss the next three games in the 2020 opener. He also opted out of his team’s 2022 bowl game.

Scheme Fit

Alexandre perhaps isn’t an ideal scheme fit for the Jets, assuming he’s going to stay on the edge for them. While he did line up outside the tackle, it wasn’t common for him to line up out wide as the Jets’ defensive ends do most of the time.

With him having played inside to some extent, you might think he could be groomed for a role like John Franklin-Myers or Micheal Clemons which could see him lining up inside in certain situations. However, it’s worth noting that Will McDonald actually played inside more than Alexandre did in college so that’s not necessarily the case.

One way where Alexandre might feel at home with the Jets is he had some elite talent lining up with him on the defensive line with the Panthers, so he has good experience of generating production by exploiting favorable matchups or cleaning up after someone else creates havoc.

He was a teammate of Jets draft picks Carter Warren and Izzy Abanikanda at Pitt and was also a teammate of Jordan Whitehead although that was in the year when Alexandre red-shirted.

Conclusions

Out of all of the Jets’ undrafted free agents, Alexandre probably has the least chance of making the roster unless there’s a series of injuries, purely because the Jets are so deep at his position.

However, he has some legitimate talent, and concerns over the fact that he’s an older prospect can be alleviated somewhat by the fact that his breakout year in college was four years ago.

Once again, a realistic goal for him is the practice squad, but he’s worth watching closely to see if he develops under an NFL staff.