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2018 NFL draft: Patriots pick a high-upside cornerback in SB Nation's first post-combine mock draft

New England selects a talented defender out of Louisville.

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL scouting combine is in the rear-view mirror as college pro days have already been kicked off earlier this week (click here for a schedule). All those events will have profound impact on the 32 teams' draft boards – and also on the countless mock drafts getting published ahead of the big event in late April. SB Nation's latest, as usual written by Dan Kadar, is a perfect example for that.

While the position did not change – Kadar again gave the New England Patriots a cornerback –, the name is a different on as it had been in previous versions:

31. New England Patriots: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

Alexander isn’t the biggest cornerback, but he jumped some cornerbacks at the combine with a terrific performance in on-field drills.

While his final season at Louisville was dominated by injuries – Alexander appeared in only six games for the Cardinals due to knee and hand ailments –, the junior cornerback proved that his 2016 campaign, when he earned second team all-ACC accolades, was no fluke: The 21-year old, who was measured at 5'10, 196 lbs at the combine and ran a 4.38 40-yard dash, registered an interception and four pass deflections in 2017.

Alexander is an aggressive cornerback that has experience playing both man-to-man and zone coverage and has earned a reputation as a big-play defender by playing with intelligence and top-notch instincts. It is therefore no surprise to see him among the top cornerbacks entering this year's draft – even if his stock is not as high as it might have been after a fully-healthy 2017 season.

Still, Alexander is a high-upside option that would certainly earn considerable snaps on a Patriots defense that is expected to lose Malcolm Butler in free agency.