Robert Alford is a wizard right now. He is a pass deflecting, wide receiver smothering wizard, and nothing short of magical powers can explain his excellence.
The thing is, Alford has always been a good player. He has been burnt on occasion, as has every other cornerback in the NFL, and he has been a bit prone to penalty. The penalties figured to be his major hurdle to staying with the Falcons, but the team extended him without blinking, and he’s rewarded them with perhaps his best NFL season. The numbers don’t pop off the page at you, perhaps—just one interception this year, plus a career-high 20 pass deflections—but the numbers rarely do with the best cornerbacks.
What Alford has done this season and into the postseason is simply leverage his outstanding skill into even better coverage. Watching him blanket the Panthers’ overmatched receivers was a delight, and it played a significant role in Cam Newton having one of his worst days. Then against the Rams, he made Cooper Kupp look like a chump. Repeatedly.
robert alford had one of his best games of the season against the rams. lockdown on cooper kupp here. pic.twitter.com/s7qyBUzv1f— charles mcdonald (@FourVerts) January 9, 2018
The Falcons were smart to lock Alford up before he hit the open market, as it turns out, and it’s still sort of insane that they were able to dig up two terrific cornerbacks in the same draft. The Falcons could still face a strong passing attack or two before their playoff run is over, and Alford at his absolute peak will be a key factor in those games. His athleticism and instincts make him dangerous, and his talent means the Falcons don’t have to worry about having Desmond Trufant track another team’s best receiver all over the field. Alford can handle it.
I continue to marvel at how many talented players the Falcons have added to this team over the last half decade or so, and while Alford rarely gets the recognition he deserves, he’s having a truly stellar year. May there be many more in his future.