Atlanta Falcons cornerback Robert Alford is improving at a steady rate
The Atlanta Falcons used two high picks in the 2013 draft, and the first pick in 2016 to address the lack of talent in the secondary.
It is hard to argue that the philosophy hasn’t paid off but Falcons fans are still waiting for the defensive backfield to become a game changing group. The continued development of first round pick Desmond Trufant (22 overall) and first round pick Keanu Neal (17 overall) may at first appear to be the most important elements in the growth of the Falcons secondary. But it’s the improvement of Robert Alford that can turn the Falcons decent backfield from 2015 into a dominant unit in 2016.
Alford was drafted in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft (60 overall) out of Southeastern Louisiana. Some thought it was a reach, but with CB being a team need and Alford’s combine performance, 4.39 forty, and a 40.0 inch vertical, made him a high upside roll of the dice. His NFL career has had its ups and downs.
In Alford’s rookie season he had two interceptions and 28 tackles in a limited role, but in his second year he picked off three passes in 10 starts. Last season Alford came into his own a bit, starting 15 games and putting together a stat line of 15 passes defended, two interceptions, 45 tackles and a touchdown.
Alford’s biggest issue has been committing unnecessary penalties, seven in 2013, nine in 2014 and nine more in 2015. If Alford can hold the penalties down and stay within his game the Falcons will see big returns on that investment from 2013.
Finishing the season strong…
Odell Beckham made Alford look bad last season when the Falcons took on the New York Giants in week 2. Beckham went for 147 yards and a touchdown on 7 catches against the Falcons number two corner, but getting beat by a talented receiver like Beckham isn’t anything to ashamed of. Alford’s preseason performance has been stellar. Reports out of camp are saying he’s flying around and making plays. The 59 yard interception for a touchdown off Kirk Cousins in the first preseason game against the Washington Redskins backs up those reports. Alford’s raw athleticism adds a much-needed element to the Falcons secondary. If Alford continues to develop he has a chance to be a special player, and by turning what has been a weakness into a strength, make the Falcons secondary a force to be reckoned with.