For third year cornerback Robert Alford, there is no time like the present. The talent is there; the confidence is there. The one quality Alford is missing is consistency.
Since his first NFL game in which he made a very impressive interception against Drew Brees and the Saints, we’ve seen what he can do. He’s promising. Even as a small school CB hailing from Southeastern Louisiana, there’s no doubt that Alford can be a very useful weapon for the Falcons defense.
With the hiring of head coach Dan Quinn, the implementation of the 4-3 under defense, and the drafting of rookie cornerback Jalen Collins, the writing’s on the wall that either Alford is going to have a position change to possibly free safety or a look at the teams’ primary slot corner.
The talent is there; the confidence is there. The one quality Alford is missing is consistency.
Alford has the skill set to be a playmaker at free safety, boundary cornerback, or slot corner. He possesses the ball skills to be a free safety, the aggressiveness to play boundary cornerback, and the speed to keep up with slot receivers.
During this offseason, Alford has called upon former safety Ryan Clark to help with his techniques as Alford has a tendency to be grabby and a little to hands on as a corner which led to a lot of defensive holding/pass interference penalties last season. So it shows that Alford knows what his deficiencies are and he’s willing to put in the required work to take the next step.
Coming off of season-ending wrist surgery, Alford is fully aware of how important this upcoming season is for him. Last season showed Alford play only ten games due to his wrist injury but total 31 tackles, three interceptions, and 12 passes defensed.
In a recent article by ESPN.com’s Vaughn McClure, coach Quinn was quoted as really pleased at what he has seen so far from Alford this offseason:
"“We would try anybody if we thought it could make the team better at that,” Quinn said. “He looks so good outside right now. We’ve talked about (free safety), but we haven’t made the decision to do that just because he’s really on it just in terms of playing outside.”"
We know how great fellow third year CB Desmond Trufant is and what he can provide. Collins is currently recovering from offseason foot surgery but once he’s 100 percent healthy, he can bring an added dimension to the defense.
Alford can be the wild card in all of this. If he taps in fully to his potential, he can provide Quinn and the Falcons defense a number of options as to how to make this defense better.