Cleveland Browns: Dominique Alexander one to watch in training camp?

Sep 5, 2015; Norman, OK, USA; Akron Zips quarterback Tra
Sep 5, 2015; Norman, OK, USA; Akron Zips quarterback Tra /

The Cleveland Browns are looking for playmakers on defense. Can undrafted free agent Dominique Alexander find a way to fill that role?

Cleveland Browns fans in attendance at training camp this summer will have several position battles to follow.

On offense, eyes will be on the quarterback situation; the quartet of rookies at wide receiver; and the offensive line, where Cameron Erving will look to take hold of the center position and Shon Coleman, among others, will look to lock down the right tackle spot.

On defense, the secondary – behind Joe Haden and Tramon Williams – will be survival of the fittest as 17 players will attempt to catch the eyes of the coaching staff.

While those may be the most high-profile storylines coming out of camp, it would be wise to keep an eye on linebackers, where veterans Demario DavisJustin Tuggle and Christian Kirksey will look to hold off the challenge of draft selections Joe Schobert and Scooby Wright on the inside; and Emmanuel Ogbah will work to transition to an outside linebacker after playing defensive end in college.

And then there is linebacker Dominque Alexander.

The Browns signed the 6-foot, 232-pound Alexander as an undrafted free agent. He is a player with good speed, making him a potential asset in coverage, and a sound tackler, something the Browns can always use.

There are some questions about Alexander’s strength, however, with some projections saying he would fit best as an outside linebacker in a 4-3 alignment to limit his involvement with larger blockers.

The Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year after making 80 tackles and forcing two fumbles, Alexander was a full-time starter his final two years with the Sooners, earning second-team All-Big 12 honors in 2014 when he posted 107 tackles (six for loss) and 1.5 sacks; and first-team all-conference honors as a junior with 103 tackles, (seven for loss) and 1.5 sacks.

Some draft experts believed Alexander could have benefitted from another year at Oklahoma, while others thought he would be a mid- to late-round draft pick. NFL teams obviously agreed that he could use more seasoning as Alexander went undrafted, but now he is looking to recreate his college experience with the Browns.

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“I feel like the transition has been kind of easy because OU does prepare you, they run everything like a business,” Alexander told the team’s website. “Like Coach Jackson always talks about being a pro and doing things right and that’s what they preach at OU. It’s just you doing the right things and you come out on the field and ball and success is going to come your way.”

With so many players at the linebacker position it can be hard to stand out, but Alexander has made the most of his opportunities so far.

“We are very pleased to have him. We like his athletic ability. He’s a smart kid and an instinctive player who can make plays,” inside linebackers coach Johnny Holland told the team’s website. “We are very impressed with our inside linebacker group. There is a lot of competition there.”

While you don’t want to put too much emphasis on it, to see the team’s own website single out Alexander for a feature story could be telling. It may simply be that, like every other news outlet, they need daily content. But for the site to devote time and resources on an undrafted free agent could mean that Alexander is making an impression on the coaching staff.

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We’ll start to get answers once the Browns return at the end of July for the opening of training camp, but in the meantime Alexander will continue to do what he can to standout in a crowded field of linebackers.

“(I want to) come out here for training camp knowing everywhere I need to be,” Alexander said, “and then just fly around and have fun.”