I want to highlight two things right off the bat…
One, the cornerback position (at least since the NFL became so pass heavy) spits out a new ‘best at the position’ once, sometimes twice a season. They’re all deserving but there’s a lot of turnover for the title of ‘best’. Two, this is not a post for Atlanta Falcons fans. We already know everything I’m about to write below. Let this put the rest of the NFL on notice.
It became clear in the latter stages of the ill-fated 2013 season, when everything else was going wrong for the Dirty Birds, the rookie cornerback was having a fantastic season.
In fact if you’re one to put any value into Pro Football Focus grading, he was the 7th best at his position. This in his rookie year. While only managing 2 interceptions, his 17 passes defended stood out as a rookie reading the game exceptionally well. Athletically capable and instincts that helped him make quick, correct decisions.
All of this and more leads me to the statement…
Desmond Trufant is the next ‘best cornerback’ in the NFL.
Why the rest of the NFL doesn’t know this…
Going into the 2013 NFL Draft, he was a second day pick. He wasn’t the star studded first round specimen of a player that people associate with the 1st round.
There were concerns about Desmond Trufant’s ability at the next level, mainly hinging on physicality and strength to match up against the best wide receivers in the game. The former Washington Huskie wasn’t known as the surest of tacklers in college.
I believe he also suffers from nobody expecting the Falcons to have any defensive quality. Any time he is caught, it’s usually down to the opposing quarterback having all the time in the world to find a receiver, something that sits solely with the pass rush he has no control over.
Why the rest of the NFL will know this in time…
The comments about his strength and physicality are clear something Trufant took to heart. He went to work, and by the time the Combine rolled around he put up 16 reps on the bench press. He matched that performance level on the 40 yard dash, recording a 4.38 second run further proving his raw abilities.
Since then, he’s racked up 77 tackles as a starting cornerback in Atlanta, the majority of which have been solo. He regularly battles strong wide receivers, and as Vaughn McClure was told by one opposing coach; “He knows how to play, and he knows how to irritate receivers. He really stands out to me”.
His play this year has been nothing short of stellar, grading out at 3.6 over 205 snaps so far. This will only be improved with a pass rush from his defensive colleagues that showed some signs of life against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thusday. He’s only going to get more opportunities throughout this season, as opponents attempt to keep up Matt Ryan and his assortment of offensive weapons.
The passes defended will turn into interceptions, and he’ll have his own island. The only downside for the Atlanta Falcons is he’s going to cost them some money in 2-3 years time. I bet it will be money they’ll be willing to pay.
Before long there’s no doubt in my mind that Trufant will be considered an elite shutdown cornerback, and shortly after the elite shutdown cornerback.
What do you think about Desmond Trufant? I’d love to hear from you. Comment below or tweet me @fusionstyle.