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Considering Robert Alford's Falcons future

The third-year cornerback is headed for a major test in the year ahead.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons drafted two cornerbacks in 2013. Their first round selection was Desmond Trufant, who has become of the league's best cornerbacks in two short years. Their second round pick was Robert Alford, and that's a more complicated story.

Alford came into the NFL with arguably more athleticism and pure physical talent than Trufant, but a lack of discipline and struggles in coverage have held him back. At times he's looked like a dynamic cornerback capable of forcing turnovers and impacting the game, and at times he's looked like nothing short of a mess.

The good news for Alford is that he's in only his third year in the NFL, the Falcons aren't exactly brimming with options at cornerback and the talent is undeniably there. Teams don't often give up on 26 years-olds with five picks in their first two seasons and great wheels, so Alford's roster spot is safe. The question is whether he'll line up as the team's #2 cornerback, or whether the Falcons will sign someone and relegate Alford to a nickel role. Either way, they'll give him a genuine shot at playing time, and I'm hopeful he'll deliver on his considerable promise and form one of the NFL's great tandems. I still genuinely believe that outcome is within reach.

Your prediction for Alford's future?