Keep your eyes on Packers DE Deslin Alexandre this summer

By: Paul Bretl 5/31/24

Everyone loves the under-the-radar player to watch for during this time of the year. So, one name I’ll put out there is defensive end Deslin Alexandre, who had an impressive day during the Packers’ OTA practice on Wednesday.

The Packers concluded Wednesday’s practice with an end-of-half two-minute period for the first, second, and third string offensive and defensive units. This was the first practice during OTAs where the Packers had an 11-on-11 team period that took place at full-speed.

With Preston Smith and Rashan Gary not present and Lukas Van Ness sidelined with a thumb injury, the Packers found themselves shorthanded at defensive end. This resulted in some additional opportunities for Alexandre that he took advantage of.

Alexandre was on the field with the second and third units and produced a “sack” during each of those two-minute periods. From my vantage point, it appeared that Alexandre won with speed on those two reps. 

Now, of course, in a real game environment, getting to the quarterback is step No. 1, but finishing the play is the second part of the equation. We will never know if that would have happened, but he was right there to make a play on the quarterback, which would have resulted in two huge plays for the defense during those two-minute drills.

The Packers signed Alexandre to a futures contract back in January. He went undrafted in 2023 out of Pittsburgh and initially signed with the New York Jets. He was released by the Jets following training camp and spent some time on the Chicago Bears practice squad.

Alexandre is a good athlete, posting a RAS of 8.41 during the pre-draft process. He played 1,767 snaps over five seasons at Pitt, almost all of which came lined up as a traditional edge rusher. His 2022 season was his most productive, recording 27 pressures and seven sacks. By PFF’s metrics, Alexandre was a reliable tackler throughout his career and solid against the run.

“Alexandre is an edge defender who relies on his broad frame and natural power,” wrote’s Lance Zierlein in his pre-draft report. “He’s long and naturally heavy handed, but he will need to play with much better bend to improve his ability to hold the point against the run.

“While he’s a segmented mover at times, he does have quick feet and shows decent pursuit quickness and motor. He’s a face-up rusher who is unlikely to beat NFL opponents with crafty moves and counters, so fortifying his power rush will be critical as a Day 3 possibility for 4-3 defenses.”

In February of 2023, Alexandre won the Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year, an award presented to the football player “who best demonstrates an outstanding record of leadership by exhibiting exceptional courage, integrity, and sportsmanship.”

“I don’t think there are enough superlatives to describe Deslin and his achievements while at the University of Pittsburgh,” Pitt head football coach Pat Narduzzi said. “His impact as a student, athlete and community leader is so inspiring. He represents the absolute best of what it means to be a Pitt Panther. Deslin has given Pitt so many reasons to be proud and I know he will make the Witten family proud as the recipient of this outstanding award.”

In the grand scheme of it all, it was one practice in late May when the pads weren’t on. If Alexandre is going to make a real roster push, he’ll have to build upon this performance and continue to deliver during training camp, where the intensity is much higher.

At best, there is just one defensive end spot up for grabs on the 53-man roster if we assume the Packers are going to keep five. Competing for that spot will be Brenton Cox, Arron Mosby, and Keshawn Banks.