Mackensie Alexander – 2016 NFL Draft Diary

by Mackensie Alexander with Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Combine Experience and Pro Day Training (March 6, 2016):

The Combine was a great experience. It was hectic, but I just enjoyed the process. They were some long days, but it was definitely worth it. We got up very early and we were in groups, so we had to report to our groups. We had informals and formals with teams. We spent a lot of time on medical stuff and everybody had a lot of medical things. It was a long day for certain guys, and I was one of them, because I met with a lot of teams.

I know my readers are interested to know what the interviews were like. They went really well. When I met with the teams, I was ready for their questions. I was prepared, and I also was planning on just going out there and being myself. It was great to meet the coaches and talk ball. They know what abilities you have, but they just want to get to know you as a player. Who the person they could possibly be working with. Stuff like that. It was great. It was an interview and it was a process that you have to go through.

In a lot of the interviews, they wanted to know who I was as a person, and then they wanted to know about scheme and defenses. I loved that! That is my thing, going in there and breaking down defenses and what you do. Going through different situations. They gave me their defenses and would see if I could remember it and have me say it over again. I would have to listen and replay it back to them, and they would see if I say it like they say it. So stuff like that along with drawing up the play. It was great to show my football knowledge. I love talking football, so that was really fun for me and I feel I did well.

You hear about some of the strange questions that players get asked and I experienced some of that myself. I can’t say what team it was, but one of them asked me questions on mathematics. Weird stuff, I was like, “what?” It was crazy. I was like, “is this real?” But I had to answer it and that was weirdest question I got. There also were some questions on different things going in the world and what I thought about it. It was fine to me, but those were some questions I didn’t expect.

It was good to meet some other players. Some big-time guys that are of your caliber. Players that you know about and they know about you, but you haven’t met before. Just learning some about the other guys in the defensive back group. It was cool to observe them. See how they think, how they react to different stuff, everybody was cool.

Now that the Combine is over, I’m training hard for the pro day. I workout twice a day starting at 7:30 in the morning and going for three hours. We get a little break. Then we start again, and after that, I get my body treated. It’s a good process. I’m happy with it. I’m about 90-92 percent right now with my hamstring. I feel really good.

To let you guys in on a bit of a secret, I opened up and ran my 40 today and had a blazing time! It was a great time! I’m about to blow some people away at my pro day. I’m really excited for it. I saw guys run at the Combine and I was like, “wow, if I was ready I would have killed it.” Aside from my interviews, I feel my performance would have been phenomenal. I would have added another plus on top of that.

It was hard not going out and competing because I’m a competitor. You just have to acknowledge and understand what is going on. You have to be patient, and I’m a patient guy. I’m going to make sure I get this healed right not only for my pro day, but for my rookie season. That’s the most important at the end of the day. I don’t want to rush back too soon and make the injury worse. I want to help my team win next season, so I’m taking care of business now to be ready for that.

If I was out working out at the Combine, I definitely would have dominated it, especially after watching the other guys. I love how they competed, but I feel that I’m at another level. A lot of guys didn’t impress me. Teams love who they love, and that’s fine, but it is my job to go out there and prove myself and change their mindsets. That’s my job.

My pro day will come around and I know every team will be there. I’m just going to soak it up and enjoy it, and go out there and have fun. I’m going to show everybody my abilities and show who I am as a person. It’s going to be easy. I’m training, getting ready, and I’m enjoying it. I’m going to go out there and do what I do and do it well.

Intro and Pre-Combine Training (Feb. 9, 2016):

For this first entry, I thought I would share with you guys my background and how I got to the point of preparing to play in the NFL. My parents have really influenced me. I watch the way they work every day and treat each other. All of that connects together at the end of the day. My mom and dad go to work every morning picking oranges. It’s not the best situation you want to be in, and your parents want to be in, but they stuck with it and are the best workers they can be every day. It motivates me. I’m from a small town, and I work hard every day because my parents have for years. I want to be a guy who takes it seriously and goes out there to compete and win. My parents also taught me not to be small-minded and have big dreams. That desire pushed me to rise from one level to the next.

Immokalee High School was great because I tell people all the time that I wasn’t the most talented guy at Immokalee High School. There was always talent there and always will be. I always had to push to be the guy so I would grind and work hard. It wasn’t easy to earn playing time because we had a lot of D1 guys on the team, so for me it felt like I was playing at a JUCO level while in high school. It wasn’t a true high school feeling. We were able to do more defensively than most teams because of that talent. We did a lot more than most high schools in terms of play calls and schemes. It made me a little more prepared for Clemson.

My freshman year I was a guy that came in with a lot of talent. I grew up and started understanding football more. I was really in tune with it. I took the little things more seriously as I grew as a sophomore. Knowing the playbook, knowing how to play the game correctly and making your game the best possible so you can go out and compete. My junior year I really stepped up and cleaned up some things. Really cleaned up my techniques. I got better and made it easier on myself when I knew what my linebacker, my safety, and my nickel were doing. I played a lot faster. The technique part of my game got better, and that is how I grew as a player. Focusing on the little things and knowing that it won’t be about just talent because everybody is talented at this level. For example, if you take the wrong step, you might allow a catch, but you’re going to make the tackle and make the play.

All of the wide receivers I went against in practice are good. We would push each other, and Clemson always had wide receivers that do different things with different skill sets, so it was good to compete against them. They challenged and pushed me every day. It was the same for them, with the best versus the best. It showed why we were so balanced as a team last year offensively and defensively. We were one of the most balanced teams in the country, and that came from how we practiced against each other.

Combine training is going well. I’m working out in Naples, Florida and Weston. I’m focused on training and getting stronger. I had a minor set-back in the last game, but it is going pretty well. Progress is what we look for, and that is what’s happening. Getting better every day. The combination of hard work and progress is good. The facility in Weston has a good medical staff. Some of the other guys there are Justin Simmons, the safety from Boston College. He’s soaking it up and working hard. Shilique Calhoun from Michigan State is there as well.

Along with preparing for the Combine workout, I’m also getting ready for the interviews. I can be myself and relax with it, but it doesn’t hurt to do some preparation on the kinds of questions they are going to ask me so I’ve looked into that. I’m going to out there and talk, speak freely, and be myself. Just like when I’m writing this diary for you guys!

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