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Cornerback Desmond Trufant (6) of Washington is projected to be the 13th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, according to On the Clock's Jeff Vinton and Bill Slane

Cornerback Desmond Trufant (6) of Washington is projected to be the 13th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, according to On the Clock’s Jeff Vinton and Bill Slane.                  (Source: sportspressnw.com)

Cornerback Desmond Trufant (6′ 0″, 190 lbs.) out of Washington has risen up draft boards lately thanks to a great showing at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last weekend and is now considered one of the top two corners in the 2013 NFL Draft. Trufant, the younger brother of Seattle Seahawks corner Marcus Trufant and New York Jets corner Isaiah Trufant, played 45 straight games for the Huskies before getting injured and missing Washington’s game against Colorado this past season. He was named captain of the Husky football team this past fall and was named to the All-Pac 12 first team. Now he has healed and is gearing up to join his brothers on Sundays as a prospect in the NFL Draft April 25.

Here are Desmond Trufant’s statistics from Washington and his combine performance:

Stats:

Career- 50 games, 195 total tackles, 151 unassisted, 44 assisted, 2 sacks, 8.5 tackles for loss, 3 forced fumbles, 5 fumbles recovered, 33 passes defended, 6 interceptions

2012- 12 games, 36 total tackles, 27 unassisted, 9 assisted, 1 sack, 4.5 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovered, 9 passes defended, 1 interception

Combine Performance: 4.38 second 40-yard dash, 16 bench press reps at 225 lbs., 37.5 inch vertical jump, 125 inch broad jump, 3.85 second 20-yard shuttle

I will now evaluate Trufant based on these criteria: Agility, Run Defense, Awareness, Range, Coverage, Tackle, Ball Skills, Speed, Burn Rate, and Health.

AGILITY:

Trufant doesn’t get juked easily and that has a lot to do with the quickness of his feet and the looseness of his hips. He can change direction extremely quickly and keep up with any move that a wideout tries to throw to shake his coverage. He’s balanced on his feet and in general, just has some damn good agility.  8.75/10.00

RUN DEFENSE:

This is the area of Trufant’s game that needs the most work. It just seemed like Trufant was very slow at diagnosing the run, even in obvious formations (no wide receiver on his side) and situations. Then once he did diagnose the run, the back would already be at or past the line of scrimmage and he would basically have no impact on the play from there. Now, Trufant is a cover corner, so I am not totally surprised that he is lacking in this area, but I would still expect him to be a little better at this, and with his speed, to have more of an impact on the play. This is something that he will no doubt work on as he advances. 8.0/10.0

AWARENESS:

Trufant possesses great awareness. He can diagnose any pass play and pretty much whatever route the receiver he is covering is running before the snap. He adjusts his coverage to what he reads and does it fairly quickly. He can diagnose play-action and route changes with the best of them and this helps make his coverage that much better. 8.5/10.0

 

RANGE:

Thanks to his 4.38 40 time, Trufant’s range is amazing. He can close in on receivers that get past him and knock balls that seem way out of his reach out the air. On runs, after he takes the time to diagnose the play and see where it is going, he takes good angles, but since it takes him so long to diagnose the play, he usually shows up after the tackle has begun, so sometimes he gets a final hit in there to force the ball carrier to the ground, but sometimes just shows up after the ball carrier has been tackled and the play is over. He gets there, but is not usually there in time to make the initial hit on the run. If a receiver gets behind him, then he can close in on the receiver quickly and then make a play on the ball. I was very impressed with Trufant’s range. 9.0/10.0

 

COVERAGE:

I said this above, I see Trufant as a coverage corner more than anything else. He blankets receivers and makes it insanely hard for receivers to get open and quarterbacks to complete throws. He is better in man, which is the coverage that Washington ran most often, and great against deep throws. QBs will still try to make deep throws, but that attempt is often misguided due to Trufant’s coverage. 8.5/10.0

TACKLE:

Not many people can get away from Trufant’s tackles, but a lot that has to do with where he makes his tackles on the field and how he hits and wraps up. When one is as fast as Trufant, a lot of momentum can be built up when sprinting at or with a man downfield and then hitting them. Since a lot of those hits happen along the sideline, the force that come with Trufant’s hits force receivers the extra foot or two that they need laterally to get out of bounds. When he does actually tackle, his technique is pretty good. He hits low, wraps up and takes down to the ground. Long story short, Trufant is a pretty good tackler.  8.5/10.0

BALL SKILLS:

When defending the ball in the air, one can’t get much better than Desmond Trufant in this year’s draft class. Trufant attacks the ball in the air, is not afraid to dive at any ball that is thrown to his receiver and basically just do whatever it takes to make the throw incomplete. When a receiver does catch a ball and Trufant is trying to take him down, he looks like he is trying to strip the ball pretty much every time. Since he is not afraid to attack the ball in the air, Trufant is fairly good at grabbing interceptions (6 in his career, 1 in 2012). He doesn’t grab as many as he could, but if he works on his hands a bit in practice, I’m sure that number will go up at the next level. 8.75/10.00

SPEED:

Trufant ran a 4.38-second 40-yard dash at the Combine in Indianapolis last weekend, so yeah. He’s fast. He’s fast enough where there is no doubt that he can keep up with any receiver currently in the NFL, coming into the league this year or any year after this. I am hugely impressed with his speed and it is something that I know NFL teams loved seeing last weekend and the team that drafts him will love seeing every Sunday during the fall.  9.0/10.0

BURN RATE:

I pretty much covered his burn rate in the ball skills section, but I’ll sum it up again here. Desmond Trufant doesn’t get burned often. When the ball is thrown to his man, he jumps up in the air, dives, and knocks balls down. Obviously, a corner can’t knock every ball down, but Trufant is a great defender when the ball is thrown to the receiver he’s covering.  9.0/10.0

HEALTH:

He started 45 straight games before getting hurt and missing the Colorado game this past season, so that injury will be something that teams will keep in their minds when thinking about drafting him on April 25. I don’t believe that this will be much of an issue in his career, however. One injury in four years is definitely not a worrisome thing to me, and I think that NFL teams will look past that injury on draft day. 9.5/10.0

 

OVERALL:

From me, Desmond Trufant gets a score of 8.75/10.00. I believe that the youngest brother in the Trufant family will become the greatest corner of the three. I think that he can make a great addition for a team in need of a corner and that he will become a Pro Bowl-level corner. Trufant really needs to work on his run defense, but that can come with time. He has excellent coverage skills and I love his speed. Trufant is a great corner that is going to make whatever team that drafts him very happy. There might be some growing pains right away, but give him time and he will be really good. Now as to where I think Trufant will get drafted? Well, I believe (and this can be seen in our Round 1 mock draft below [also in the “Mock Draft” category]) that Trufant will be drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 13th overall pick. The Bucs are dealing with the best corner in franchise history, Ronde Barber, nearing retirement, and they will need to find someone to take his role on the defense. Trufant could come in and get game experience right away while learning the ins and outs of the NFL from an all time great. It is an awesome situation for Trufant to go into, and the Bucs would be extremely happy to grab a corner with the skills of Desmond Trufant.

HIGHLIGHTS:

 

Let me know what you think in the comments below and follow me on Twitter! @J_Vinton52 @OnTheClockNFL

Next, I’ll be previewing Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas!

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Alabama CB runs the 40-yard dash in Indianapolis

Alabama CB Dee Milliner runs the 40-yard dash in Indianapolis

The annual NFL scouting combine came to a close Tuesday as the nation’s top defensive backs took to the field in Indianapolis to show off their talents in front of the league’s talent evaluators. There were few surprises on the last day as the top prospects showed the world why they are the best and those fighting to gain some notoriety did little if anything to help their draft stock.

Starting with the top, Dee Milliner was and still is the best DB in this year’s class; it’s really not even close. I did a profile of Milliner last week and fell in love with the guy from what I saw on film. He solidified himself as a probable top-5 pick with his performance today on the field.

Milliner started off the day right with a very impressive showing in the 40-yard dash. He officially clocked in at 4.37 seconds, just .01 seconds slower than the fastest defensive back of the day, Darius Slay of Mississippi State. Where Milliner really shined though was in drills. He showed great hands, fluid hip movement, and great ability to change speed and direction. If he doesn’t go in the top-5 in April I’d be shocked and disappointed in the NFL’s scouts. I think the Lions right at that 5th pick makes a lot of sense for both parties.

The other story of the day came from former LSU Tiger Tyrann Mathieu, the player formally known as “The Honey Badger”. After managing a pathetic 4 reps in the bench press on Monday, Mathieu needed to do a lot to prove himself in the defensive back drills, and he did just that. He ran a solid time in the 40, officially clocking in at 4.5 seconds. But, like Milliner, where Mathieu really brought it was in the drill portion of the day. He showed good quickness and hands in the drills along with good movement in his hips, something I thought he needed to work on when I watched him on film. With his performance in Lucas Oil, Mathieu might have solidified himself as a third round draft choice. He showed good speed and quickness, so at the very least he has some good value as a kick returner. And all Mathieu needs to do is make a roster so he can begin to prove to the world he can make plays in the NFL like he did while at LSU.

Tyrann Mathieu participates in a defensive back drill at the NFL combine

Tyrann Mathieu participates in a defensive back drill at the NFL combine

A couple of other names that stood out today were Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes and Washington’s Desmond Trufant. Considering his size, Rhodes ran a pretty impressive 40 time at 4.43 seconds. I didn’t realize that Rhodes brought that combination of both physicality and speed to the table, and NFL teams are really going to like that. Trufant on the other hand probably solidified himself as, at worst, the third corner in the class with his performance today. He ran an official 40 time of 4.38, one of the top marks of the day, and had some good times in the shuttles. Trufant, like Rhodes, is slightly bigger than your average corner and should be a very intriguing prospect for teams looking to add someone to their secondary.

One player who fell slightly short of expectations was Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro. In what is generally considered a very deep safety class, Vaccaro has been the consensus #1 at the position. He fell short of that label in Indy, running a pedestrian 4.63 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He redeemed himself somewhat in the 3-cone drill, and looked decent in the defensive back drills. Vaccaro probably didn’t hurt his draft stock much, if at all, with his combine performance, but he needs to pick it up at his pro day if he wants to remain the top safety in this year’s class.

One of the lesser-known names who showed up in Indy was cornerback Steve Williams out of the University of California – Berkeley. Williams didn’t make any all-conference teams this season, but he did garner a lot of praise from coaches in the Pac-12. He showed that at least some of that praise was deserved at the combine, running a good 40 at 4.42 seconds, having one of the best vertical leaps at 40.5 inches, and looking solid in the defensive back drills. Williams could be a very good pickup later in the draft for a team looking to add someone with a lot potential in the defensive backfield to their roster.

The annual NFL scouting combine is a very good resource for NFL talent evaluators, but it is far from their only resource. There is still plenty to be learned about these and the rest of the player available in this year’s class. Pro days, individual meetings and workouts, and more are still to come for these players..

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