Packers: First-round grade, instant reaction to Jaire Alexander selection

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 02: Jaire Alexander /

Instant reaction to the Green Bay Packers’ first-round selection, cornerback Jaire Alexander.

The Packers selected cornerback Jaire Alexander out of Louisville with the 18th pick in first round of the 2018 NFL Draft Thursday night.

This came after first trading down with the New Orleans Saints, then trading back up in a deal with the Seattle Seahawks.

Initial reaction

Alexander is a physical and confident corner that should fit well into what Mike Pettine wants to do on defense.

The Packers addressed one of their biggest needs and did so with a player a lot of experts like. Alexander had an awesome year at Louisville two years ago before an injury slowed him down last season. Much like who I had hoped the Packers took, edge rusher Harold Landry, Alexander is a great talent when healthy. This is a very strong pick for Gutekunst after navigating around the first day.

This pick didn’t come without a roller coaster of emotions for Packer fans this year. Rumors of trading up were abound just hours before the draft, and Derwin James and Tremaine Edmunds were both available at 14.

The Packers ultimately moved back to 27, swapping picks with the Saints before moving back up to 18 and swapping that pick with the Seahawks. The kicker is the Packers gathered a 2019 first-round pick from the Saints in the initial deal.

How Jaire Alexander fits

Alexander can start Week 1 for Green Bay. He’s talented enough to do so without a doubt. Kevin King and Alexander give the Packers one of the brightest young cornerback duos in the league and should’ve finally shut the door on that need.

The other bonus of adding Alexander is now the Packers have a full cornerback group. With King and Alexander, veterans Tramon Williams, Davon House and Quinten Rollins, the position is arguably a strength.

There is suddenly much less concern over what happens if the group struggles to perform, and it’s loaded with potential. The Packers can strengthen it even more later in the draft with how deep this class is. I expect one more pick, at least, at the corner position, plus a safety at some point.

Alexander also gives special teams a boost. The Packers could ask him to return punts. At Louisville, he returned 43 punts for 424 yards and a touchdown.

Grade: A

This is a very strong pick for Gutekunst in a vacuum. Alexander is awesome and can make an impact right away in Green Bay. The addition of the 2019 first from New Orleans is what really puts this move over the top.

Gutekunst has positioned himself to move around on Day 1 next year too. We obviously don’t know what to expect from the 2019 class yet, but the fans should be confident in whatever he decides to do with that pick.