Although underwhelmed by his 2017 football season, NFL scouts still considered Adonis Alexander a potential first-round draft pick if he showed development to pair with his natural athleticism in 2018 for Virginia Tech.
Instead, Alexander — a junior cornerback — was dismissed from the Hokies on June 1 and is expected to become the first Tech player taken in the supplemental draft since 1984 when Cleveland used a first-round pick to select linebacker Mike Johnson.
The NFL holds a supplemental draft every year for players who weren’t eligible for the April draft but whose circumstances changed. That often means cases like Alexander’s, where the player was dismissed from his college team after the deadline to declare for the regular draft.
Unlike the regular draft, the supplemental draft is essentially a silent auction, where teams can enter a bid for an eligible player — “bid” meaning a round they’d be willing to select him. The team willing to take the player the earliest is awarded him, then loses its draft pick in that round for next year’s NFL Draft in April.
Alexander, a 6-foot-3, 207-pound Charlotte, N.C., native, played in 34 games and started 15 in his Tech career. He recorded 126 tackles and seven interceptions, but he struggled off the field, including a 2016 marijuana arrest, and was dismissed from the program last month.
“It’s going to hurt him. It’s really going to hurt him,” said Tony Pauline, NFL draft expert and publisher of draftanalyst.com. “The guy was a potential first-round prospect who’s probably going to be a fourth-, fifth-rounder tomorrow. It’s a matter of, at what point in time does he just become too good a value to pass up?”
Neither Alexander nor his agent, Andy Ross of Houston-based Select Sports Group, responded to interview requests this month.
Alexander indicated his dismissal was related to academic shortcomings when he announced his plans to enter the supplemental draft on June 1.
“I take full responsibility for not taking care of my business in the classroom,” Alexander tweeted. “I will use this tough lesson as motivation to get better and learn from my mistakes as I become a professional.”
Alexander held a pro-day style workout at Virginia Tech on June 20. Reportedly, 26 NFL teams sent representatives who watched him run a 4.61-second 40-yard dash and bench-press nine repetitions at 225 pounds, among other standard tests.
Pauline noted most athletes spend about two months preparing for the NFL combine and pro days, training on technique to run faster 40 times and shuttle drills.
“I think he just had a couple of weeks to prepare,” Pauline said. “He’s got the playing speed. It’s just a matter of getting him to play to that speed. But the 4.6s at the workout are going to hurt him, depress his draft stock.”
No NFL team has selected a player in the supplemental draft since 2015.
But this year figures to change that, possibly even rivaling 1989, when five players were selected in the supplemental draft.
The top three prospects this year are all defensive backs — Alexander, Western Michigan cornerback Sam Beal and Mississippi State safety Brandon Bryant.
The Colts, Chiefs, Saints and Jets reportedly met with Alexander after his pro-day workout.
Beal’s availability could hurt Alexander’s desirability, although on the whole, it’s still a good time to be a cornerback.
“Cornerback is a priority position when it comes to the draft,” Pauline said. “And teams are willing to risk a little more for that.”
Tech already lost three defensive backs to the NFL from its 2017 roster.
Junior safety Terrell Edmunds left school early and was selected in the first round by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Senior cornerback Greg Stroman was taken in the seventh round by the Washington Redskins and senior cornerback Brandon Facyson signed as an undrafted free agent with the Los Angeles Chargers.
In addition, the Hokies lost junior college transfer cornerback Jeremy Webb for the season to an Achilles injury, and they dismissed senior defensive back Mook Reynolds from the team on Monday.