In the 2015 season, we saw some significant improvements in the third year cornerback out of Southeastern Lousiana. In his 15 starts this season, Alford posted a career high 53 tackles, 15 pass deflections, and snagged two interceptions, including a 59 yard interception for a touchdown to beat the Washington Redskins. Overall, Alford was one of the most improved members of our defense in Dan Quinn's first year in Atlanta. Alford is settling in to be a very productive #2 cornerback and I expect to see his game take another step in the 2016 season as well.
Although fans are sometimes really critical of Robert Alford, one thing that's undeniable is the skill set is there. Alford is a very competitive player from the line when we've seen him in press coverage and we've seen him break up some passes downfield at times, even against larger receivers. He's solid at covering underneath routes and will finish tackles as well. According to Pro Football Focus, Alford finished fourth in the NFL last season when he's targeted by opposing teams, only giving up a 49.3% completion percentage.
Alford quietly was the Falcons second best defensive player last season and at the end of the season surrendered less than 40 receptions, which was also the best from a starting cornerback in the league. The dynamic duo of Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford has a bright future in Atlanta.
Things To Improve
As we've mentioned before, Alford has the potential to be great in this league; however, his lack of discipline and tendencies to commit unnecessary penalties are reasons that many fans in Atlanta have their issues with him. In the team's loss against Carolina, Alford had one of his worst games of the season, surrendering two touchdowns and over 100 yards receiving to Ted Ginn as the Falcons were shut out 38-0. Also, committing some costly holding penalties which is one part of his game that we've seen him struggle in throughout his career.
Although he's a very talented player, we've seen him struggle to avoid penalties and that's something he'll need to work on during the off- season. He's a very physical corner; however, Alford can't make some of the critical mistakes such as holding past 5 yards or taking the wrong angles at times.
Notably, Alford received a lot of criticism in his game against Odell Beckham Jr in the Falcons victory in Week 2 victory against the New York Giants. However, when you actually go back to watch the game, Alford was able to keep up with him; however, great players make great plays and we were definitely aware of Beckham's greatness that day. Even on the play, Charles McDonald pointed out in his analysis of the touchdown reception that although many gave the blame to Alford on the play, Ricardo Allen was in a better position to make a tackle around the fifty yard line and after he took a poor angle, which we've seen struggle with at times, there wasn't a chance.
Alford is under contract through the end of this season.
As we approach the offseason and Alford's fourth season in the NFL, I expect him to truly flourish in Dan Quinn's scheme. Yes, Alford has some skills and discipline that he'll need to further develop, bur the Falcons already have a stellar set of top cornerbacks. Alford was one of the most improved players we saw in our defense last season and as we continue to develop this young talent under head coach Dan Quinn, expect for Alford to have a huge impact on the Falcons secondary.