With all the attention on first round pick CB Desmond Trufant, second round pick CB Robert Alford has flown under the radar. But Alford is quietly putting up a nice training camp, and is emerging as Trufant's competition for the second cornerback position.
Some might have been surprised GM Thomas Dimitroff didn't help fortify the O-line, the D-line or the linebackers, but Dimitroff's focus this year was on improving a secondary that lost three starters last season. There were some holes to fill there, not because of talent, but because there was simply nobody there.
Alford hails from Southeastern Louisiana University where he compiled an impressive three year career for the Lions. After only having one interception in his first season, he had five interceptions in 2011 and four picks in 2012.
In 2011 he had seven passes defended and 52 total tackles. In 2012 he had 39 total tackles, but a career high eight passes defended. He was named to the second team all Southland conference team in 2011, and was named to the first team all Southland in 2012.
Thomas Dimitroff was quite high on Alford, and so far, the second round pick is competing beat for beat with his first round counterpart.
Alford did a really nice job covering receivers during our trip to training camp last Saturday. In the one on one drills he was running right with receiver Harry Douglas and Roddy White on some plays with a couple of pass breakups.
Like Trufant, he was also burned at times, but once again, these corners have to get used to the speed of NFL competition. As long as it's happening in training camp and not during the regular season too much, it's ok.
He appeared far more physical than Trufant did during our visit to training camp, and scouts have also cited him being quite a physical corner despite his 5'10" frame. Even though he is from a mid-major conference, Alford looks to be up to the challenge of competing at the NFL level.
We'll get a better idea of who will claim the second corner spot once preseason play begins. Right now, it's too close to call. Trufant and Alford have similar speed, with Trufant posting a 4.38 40 yard dash time, and Alford besting him at 4.34. While Trufant is taller and has more passes passes defended than Alford, Alford appears to be more physical than Trufant, and has more career interceptions. Both players have been praised for their bump and run coverage abilities.
Alford will be Trufant's greatest challenge, but both must be impact players for the secondary this year if the Falcons hope to improve their pass defense.
The position battle is on, and this is the best one in Flowery Branch at the moment. We will be monitoring this throughout the preseason.
We will be returning to Falcons training camp on Monday to watch this and the other position battles. The Falcons will be practicing against the Cincinnati Bengals, so it will be great to see some team on team action.
If you missed other position battles, here is our analysis:
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