Can Robert Alford really convert to safety?

Kevin C. Cox

Fact: Robert Alford once said a hip hop hippy, hippy to the hip hip hop

The Falcons have hosted several corner backs in the lead up to the draft, including this week's visit with Justin Gilbert. It's begged the question: why even bother? The Falcons have Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, Robert McClain, Javier Arenas, Josh Wilson, and Jordan Mabin under contract. Given the need for a pass rusher, free safety, and offensive line depth, the decision to work out Gilbert is a head scratcher. He's a likely first round pick, after all.

Early in the off-season, there were rumors about Alford working out with Ryan Clark. Alford may be about 3 inches shorter and 20 pounds lighter than you'd expect your safety to be, but this is the modern NFL, rules are meant to be broken.

So what do you typically look for in an NFL safety? Size if often what readily distinguishes NFL corner backs from NFL safeties, but it isn't everything. Scouts also covet speed, transition skills, backpedaling ability, and ball skills. In short, if you're fast, can move around the field, and have a nose for the ball, they'll give you a go at safety.

As for Alford, he's not lacking in ball skills. He's got good range, fluid hips, and ran a sub 4.4 40 at the Combine. He also put up 17 bench press reps. Couple that strength with his reputation as a willing tackler, and you have a guy that could, at least in theory, convert to safety. But then there's the opportunity cost.

Alford isn't where Trufant is, but make no mistake, he's got a promising future at corner back. In Trufant and Alford, you have two franchise corners, capable of anchoring the Falcons outside for years to come. By moving Alford to safety, there's a risk that you derail that scenario. It's not a sure thing, but it's a risk.

In short, Alford to safety isn't a non-possibility. Whether it's a sound use of existing personnel remains to be seen.

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