Chris Owens has left for the Browns, and Brent Grimes looks like a stretch to return to Atlanta. That leaves Robert McClain - best suited as a nickelback - Dominique Franks, and Peyton Thompson on the depth chart behind Samuel.
So it's obvious, then, that the Falcons need to find an impact player at corner before the 2013 season arrives. And given Mike Nolan's previous statements about the importance of having a strong secondary, it should be no surprise that he and his staff could be targeting Desmond Trufant on Day One.
Projection: Late 1st / 2nd round
Measurables: 6'0, 190 pounds, 4.38 sec (40 time), 16 reps (bench press), 37.5 in (vertical)
NFL Comparison: Jonathan Joseph
Stats (2012): 36 total tackles (27 solo), 8 pass deflections, 4.5 TFL, 1 INT, 1 FF
Why He Works:
Trufant has the size you look for in a perimeter corner. He's strong, but even more he can be incredibly physical with opposing receivers.
He is one of the better players I've seen in press man coverage, so good that he probably has the ability to move inside to the slot in certain situations (which Washington has done with him).
One of the more athletic cornerbacks this year, Trufant just looks fantastically fluid on the football field: he's got the straight-line speed, the agility and the body control you look for in a first-round prospect, and those are all skills that give him a very high ceiling in the NFL.
But he also has that key word, "versatility." For his strength in man coverage, he plays quite well in zone coverage, too. He makes great breaks on the ball, almost always takes good angles, shows great play-making instincts and plays the ball incredibly well. He's not a liability in run support, either.
Perhaps most important for Atlanta's front office, though, are Trufant's intangibles - he's a guy that doesn't make very mistakes. His football intelligence appears solid, and his tape doesn't make it look like he's the type of player that takes many plays off.
Basically, there isn't very much Trufant does wrong.
Why He Won't Work:
But nobody's a perfect player. He's on the bigger side for a defensive back, but he could probably stand to hit the weight room once he actually arrives in an NFL training camp.
Like most corners, his tackling technique in the open field is not the best you'll find. He's certainly not an asset in the running game, and sometimes he has a tough time shedding his blockers.
The only real concern, though, is whether Trufant's skills in press coverage translate well into the NFL. If not, he could be a liability to give up the big play (as most press corners can be).
But beyond those things, it's hard to argue against Trufant because of the incredibly broad skill set he possesses.
Trufant should probably be drafted anywhere from the late first round to the early second, and for where the Falcons pick he could be perfect. We know Atlanta needs an impact cornerback, and Trufant fits the bill in just about every way you can imagine.
Besides, our last first-round pick with dreads worked out pretty well.