Atlanta Falcons: 15 best first-round picks of all-time

Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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Desmond Trufant, Atlanta Falcons
Desmond Trufant, Atlanta Falcons. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Desmond Trufant comes from a strong football family. His two older brothers Marcus Trufant and Isaiah Trufant played in the NFL for a decade and five years, respectively. Marcus Trufant played almost entirely with the Seattle Seahawks, while Isaiah Trufant played primarily with the New York Jets.

Though his two older brothers played their college ball at Washington State in Pullman, the Tacoma native opted to play for the Cougars’ arch rival in the Washington Huskies. While in Seattle, Trufant’s college coach was none other than former Falcons offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.

After being named First-Team All-Pac-12 with Washington, Trufant came to the Falcons at an interesting time for the franchise. Atlanta was coming off a brutal NFC Championship game loss at home to the San Francisco 49ers. Despite going 13-3 during the 2012 NFL season, Atlanta blew a 17-point lead at halftime to fall to Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers in the old Georgia Dome.

The thought at the time was Atlanta had a strong offense, headlined by Tony Gonzalez, Matt Ryan, Roddy White, an aging Michael Turner and a young Julio Jones. However, the secondary simply lacked the shutdown ability at cornerback to lock down the opposing wide receiving corps. With the pass rush not being good and the secondary often giving up the big play, no lead was safe even during the peak years of the Mike Smith era.

While the need was obvious, it was going to be hard for Atlanta to land its shutdown corner picking in the late 20s of the 2013 NFL Draft. Fortunately for Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff, his protegé Les Snead was now running the then-St. Louis Rams. Atlanta was able to move up to No. 22 to select Trufant out of Washington.

Although the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft looks dreadful years later, Atlanta was able to move up and get a Pro Bowl shutdown cornerback, who has started 88 games for the franchise in the last half-dozen years.

Even though he only has nine interceptions to date, Trufant has been Atlanta’s No. 1 cornerback since arriving in Flowery Branch day one back in 2013. While the Falcons have moved off his fellow draft classmate in Robert Alford this offseason, they formed a solid pair at cornerback in Atlanta for six seasons.

Trufant’s one Pro Bowl season thus far came in 2015. He was expected to remain a top-five cornerback in football in 2016, but suffered a season-ending injury in the midst of Atlanta’s run to the Super Bowl. That dings him a bit, but Trufant’s inclusion on this all-time list is merited because of his consistency, longevity and professionalism.