In 2013, GM Thomas Dimitroff caught fans off-guard when he drafted young corners Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford back to back in the first and second round of the draft. While it was clear the team needed help at other positions on the defense, you can never have enough good corners in this league. So with where we are now, was that decision a wise one? How does this position group grade out as we descend into the second half of the season?
Without question, Trufant has been one of the best first round picks that GM Thomas Dimitroff has made. Considering some of the corners that went before him in 2013, the Falcons are lucky he was there for us in the middle of the first round. From day one, Trufant has established himself as a quality starter. On the year, he's ranked 8th in PFF's metrics and he's only allowing 50% of the throws that come his way to be caught. More and more QBs are flat-out avoiding his side of the field, and per PFF, he has the fewest targets thrown his way of any CB in the top 10. Trufant is quickly becoming a shutdown corner, and will be a pivotal member of this defense for years. Grade: A
While Trufant has excelled, fans have been luke warm towards Alford. He hasn't been as successful as Trufant, but don't let that skew your perception of his play. In his third year, Alford is quickly becoming a very good #2 corner. Alford's playing style is more aggressive and attacking, which explains why he tends to have more interceptions while also giving up more big plays than his counterpart. On the year, PFF ranks Alford 35th in their metrics. However, Alford has 2 interceptions on the year and has allowed opposing QBs a passer rating of 65.1 when throwing his way. While he's not going to shutdown any of the elite receivers in the game, Alford is more than capable of holding his own against most guys. While he's not the same player that Trufant is, that's completely fine. Grade: B+
The other guys
Phillip Adams as never expected to be a big contributor, but given the slow development of rookie Jalen Collins, having the veteran on the team in nickel sets has been key. His PFF score of -2.8 on the year is reflective of his play: he's been neither very good nor very bad. Over the long-term, Adams is likely to be phased out as our younger players develop. Grade: C
Second round pick Jalen Collins fits the mold of what Dan Quinn wants in a corner. He's tall and athletic, if not still a bit raw. Collins has seen more and more defensive snaps in recent weeks, and indication that the coaching staff is happy with his development. On the year, he has a PFF score of +0.1, which is not bad at all for a rookie in this difficult position. On the field, Collins has had up and down moments, but it's easy to see why the Falcons were high on him when he was drafted. If he can continue to develop and refine his technique, he could turn into another special player at the cornerback position. As it stands right now, he's playing as well as you could hope for a rookie corner. Grade: B
While this is a position that lacks depth at the moment, the top 3 guys are all worthwhile contributors and the kind of guys you can count on every Sunday. For a position that is unstable on so many teams in the league, the Falcons are in good position here. This is a quality unit, and one that is only going to get better.
Overall Grade: B+
What are your thoughts on the cornerbacks on the Falcons roster?