Atlanta Falcons’ Young Corner Starting To Shine


The hallmark of the Atlanta Falcons this season is obviously the offense. Matt Ryan and company have racked up a total 103 points through three games, and they will give the team every chance of winning the division. The rest will be up to the defense, which has looked very shaky so far this year. They shut down the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but complete meltdowns against the Saints and Bengals leaves little to be desired. One part of the defense that the Falcons won’t have to worry about, however, is the cornerbacks. Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford are putting opposing offenses on notice with the way they’ve been playing lately.

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Following the 2012 season, where they came an agonizing 10 yards away from making it to their second superbowl ever, the Falcons had a glaring need at cornerback. The departures of two top corners in Daunta Robinson and Brent Grimes made it obvious that Atlanta needed to target a corner in the draft. Thomas Dimitroff made a savvy move trading up eight spots to get Desmond Trufant, a four year starter and team captain at Washington. Many mock drafts had the Falcons getting Trufant at 30, but Dimitroff saw something special in him, and decided to sacrifice a 3rd round pick to make sure he got his guy. The General Manager decided to double down at the position by getting Robert Alford, from Southeastern Louisiana, in the 2nd round. A little over a full season later, and the 2013 draft products look to be two of Dimitroff’s best selections.

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After just his rookie season, Desmond Trufant looks to be a top 10 corner in the NFL. Despite the porous season the Falcons’ tumultuous defense had last year, Trufant more than held his own: he led the league with 15 pass breakups to go along with 2 interceptions, and allowed just 53.4% of balls thrown his way to be completed. He was voted Pro Football Focus’ Rookie of the Year for his excellent work. It’s amazing that Tru was able to do this despite the fact that the Falcons couldn’t generate a pass rush. Something that’s made the Washington product stand out in the NFL has been his closing speed. He ran a 4.38 second 40 yard rush at the combine, and even chased down CJ Spillar, one of the league’s fastest players, in a week 13 win against the Bills.

Trufant’s partner in crime, Robert Alford, burst onto the seem in his first NFL game by picking off Drew Brees. Alford had 8 passes defensed to go along with 2 interceptions. He suffered, however, after starting CB Asante Samuel went down with an injury and opposing quarterbacks targeted him, sometimes exclusively, but the Southeastern Louisiana product had a strong finish to the season. He made Drew Brees’ life hard to open up the season once again a few weeks ago, by allowing only one catch in 43 total snaps played, which was the best ratio in the league during the opening weekend. Alford possess his own good speed: having run a 4.34 second 40 yard dash at the combine.

Sep 18, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) gets tackled by Atlanta Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant (21) after a reception in the second quarter of their game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The young Atlanta corners showcased themselves on the national stage by shutting down the Tampa Towers: Tampa Bay’s two 6’5 wide receivers who were thought to be a matchup nightmare. Mike Evans, the 7th overall pick out of Texas A&M in this previous draft, had four catches for an uninspiring 52 yards; while the Bucs’ top receiver Vincent Jackson had just two catches for 15 yards: one of those catches being a pushoff (on Alford) in the endzone. It helped that Atlanta’s defensive line actually managed to generate a pass rush.

Alford and Trufant have proven to be an intimidating pairing at cornerback to opposing receivers and quarterbacks alike. The league is finally starting to take notice of the two 2013 draft pick homeruns that Thomas Dimitroff brought to Atlanta, and so will pro bowl voters before all is said and done. These two have solidified a once depressing secondary, and to have done so barely into their sophomore campaign is pretty scary. One thing is for sure though: Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant aren’t finished yet, in fact, they’re just getting started.