Since Brian Gutekunst used his first pick as Packers general manager to draft Alexander 18th overall out of Louisville in 2018, the 5-foot-10, 196-pound cornerback has been pitted against elite NFL receivers on an almost weekly basis.
His natural talent and tenacity have Gray excited to work with Alexander, drawing a comparison to Rolle and Hall to illustrate what he feels could be Alexander’s long-term upside.
“You got a very young, energetic guy who made a lot of plays last year on a really good defense,” Gray said. “When I look at Jai, he reminds me a lot of Samari Rolle when I had Samari in Tennessee. They weren’t really big guys but they were physical. They got really great cover skills and excellent ability to see.
“A lot of time guys don’t have that vision to see the quarterback and the receiver at the same time. DeAngelo Hall had that. When you got guys who have that type of skill, that’s a big plus.”
Gray, hired in January by Head Coach Matt LaFleur following a six-season stint with the Vikings, has had steady dialogue with Alexander throughout the virtual offseason program, making it a point to ask his young cornerback, “Where do you wanna go?”
Gray will keep the details of that goal-oriented conversation confidential, but he did shed some light on the message he shared with Alexander and the rest of the Packers’ secondary.
“I’m not going to force it on you but I’m going to try to give (it to) you and let you be the best corner in the league,” said Gray of his philosophy. “If you want to be the Pro Bowl guy, I can help you get there. If you want to be an All-Pro, I can try to help you get there. But you gotta put your work in.”
Work is something Alexander has never shied away from. In an interview with packers.com in December, he went into great detail about what drives him on Sundays – his parents, Earl and Tawanda, his humble upbringing in Charlotte and the chip he carries on his shoulder after not receiving a single Division I offer in his home state.