TAMPA, Fla. -- Former LSU safety Jamal Adams likely won’t make it to No. 19 when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on the clock Thursday night. But when Bucs fans hear his name called, they can take satisfaction knowing that one of their own -- middle linebacker Kwon Alexander -- helped mold him into one of the most pro-ready prospects in this year's NFL draft.
The two played together at LSU for one year in 2014, Alexander's final season and Adams' freshman year. At the time, Adams was buried on the depth chart behind Ronald Martin Sr. and Jalen Mills, while Alexander was the starting weakside linebacker and led the team in tackles. Adams soaked up as much as he could, and they forged a bond along the way.
"He taught me the ropes," Adams said. “He was a leader on that defense when I came in. He taught me what it took to be an LSU Tiger."
Adams emerged as one of the most vocal leaders in LSU's locker room. In three years, he registered 209 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, five interceptions and two sacks, becoming one of the best defensive backs in school history. Last season, he helped the Tigers defense limit opponents to just 16 touchdowns.
While Adams was in Baton Rouge, he watched Alexander's Bucs closely. Alexander became a Day 1 starter, embraced the role of "quarterback of the defense" and led the Bucs with 145 tackles last year, tying with Sean Lee for fourth-most in the league.
"He’s always running around that ball and having energy. He’s very passionate," Adams said. "What he’s doing in the NFL now does not shock me. He’s always been an outstanding football player.”
As Adams looks to make the same type of impact at the next level, he's turned to Alexander, whom he regards as one of his closest friends and a role model.
"He’s a brother to me," Adams said. "Kwon is an outstanding player and an outstanding person off the field."
The biggest piece of advice Alexander has given Adams on playing in the NFL?
"Really, he just encouraged me to be myself, just play football. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s about," Adams said. "It’s going to be different. [I've] got to adjust to learning a new scheme, but [it's] just playing ball at the end of the day.
"They’re gonna pick you for one thing. Your film is gonna speak [for itself], but you definitely have to be a great person off the field as well."
As for what Alexander thinks of his former teammate's chances of making an impact right away like he did?
“He’s good," Alexander said. "He's not nervous. He’s ready for the whole process. He’s a dog. He knows what’s going on ... He’s already ready. He’s built for the NFL."