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Falcons Roster Review 2015: Gauging the secondary

With the exception of Desmond Trufant and Dwight Lowery, the Falcons' secondary didn't perform too well.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons allowed a league-worst 279.9 passing yards per game in 2014 — 15 more yards per game than the second-to-last team.

The 8.2 yards allowed per pass play tied for worst in the league.

And while many members of the secondary didn't play well, the fact the Falcons had zero semblance of a pass rush has to be taken into consideration.

With that in mind, let's gauge the performance of the secondary.

Desmond Trufant

There was no sophomore slump for Desmond Trufant as he followed up a great rookie campaign with a fantastic second season.

Trufant finished with Pro Football Focus' sixth best grade among cornerbacks, and he began to earn the "shutdown" moniker as quarterbacks started to shy away from his side of the field.

If there's a knock on Trufant, it's his hands. It's no exaggeration to say he could have led the league in interceptions if he caught half the balls he had dead to rights. He ended the season with three picks — a career-high.

In the end, with Trufant being as good as he is, the should-be interceptions are merely a blip.

Curiously, he wasn't voted to the Pro Bowl.

Robert Alford

Before being placed on injured reserve with a broken wrist and missing the final six games of the season, Robert Alford struggled.

His worst game came in Week 5. However, there's a caveat there: He was matched up against Odell Beckham.

Alford's a gambler — in the same vein as Asante Samuel — so he's going to lose just as much as he's going to win.

This past season, he lost more than he won. He racked up nine penalties, with four of those being for pass interference.

To his credit, Alford's three interceptions were all great plays.

It's clear the talent and physical ability is there for Alford. A move to a much simpler defense under Dan Quinn could be exactly what he needs to thrive.

Robert McClain

In 2012, Robert McClain put together a magnificent season in the nickelback role.

Since then, his play hasn't come close to that level — both as a nickelback and playing on the outside.

McClain does deserve some credit for his two interceptions on the season as he notched both key turnovers in each game against the New Orleans Saints.

In fact, his best game came against the Saints in Week 16.

Still, it's hard to envision the unrestricted free agent back in Atlanta next season.

Josh Wilson

Josh Wilson's best days are clearly behind him.

He started four games, but he wasn't particularly effective in any. To that point, he wasn't necessarily atrocious, but he did whiff on 11 tackles.

At this point in his career, Wilson is best suited to provide a veteran presence in a reserve role.

Dwight Lowery

Dwight Lowery was an under-the-radar signing that paid off quite well.

Atlanta's free safety position was in flux after releasing Thomas DeCoud, who had nightmare 2013 season. Enter Lowery to provide the stability the Falcons needed at the position.

While Lowery didn't have nearly the best season compared to other safeties, his play was that much better than DeCoud's from the season prior that it seemed as though he played at a Pro Bowl level.

He was especially effective in the run game and held his own when asked to cover tight ends.

Lowery's an unrestricted free agent, but don't be surprised if he's brought back.

Kemal Ishmael

On paper, Kemal Ishmael had an excellent year taking the place of William Moore, who finished just four of the seven games he started as he battled injuries.

Ishmael racked up 98 tackles, four interceptions (one of which he returned for a touchdown), and a forced fumble as he started 10 games on the season.

In his second year, he exceeded any expectations set for a seventh round draft pick.

But despite the pretty statistics, Ishmael is pretty limited. His deep coverage ability isn't what you want for a starting safety in the league — he just doesn't have the necessary range.

Ishmael is solid in run support, however. He's a capable backup to Moore.

Dezmen Southward

While Dezmen Southward has the size and speed to be successful, the game is too fast for him at this point.

Drafted as essentially a project in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft, he saw time on the field — including extended time in Week 10 —  and largely looked out of place.

Just as it should with Alford, a simplified defense could go a long way for Southward. As it stands, he has a way to go before he becomes starter material.