Falcons rookie corner Robert Alford comes in ranked 24th on the team. You can click here to find out the scoring system that led to his ranking.
Total Score: 48
Player Grade: 50 out of 100
Teams he could start for: 7 out of 32
Teams he is best position player: 1 out of 32
Teams he could find role on: 24 out of 32
Peak-Year Bonus: +3
Positional Bonus: +4
Although Alford has yet to play a snap with the Falcons, his relatively high grade is due to the sheer number of young, untested cornerbacks elsewhere in the league. He could start potentially on as many as seven teams, all of which go into 2013 with untested and unproven young corners that Alford is arguably more talented than.
Alford is blessed with good athleticism and speed, and will be competing for reps at the starting right cornerbac spot in Atlanta. However the more likely scenario is that he settles in as the team’s fourth quarterback, a spot vacated by Chris Owens who is now in Cleveland competing for a starting spot. That is one of the teams that Alford could potentially start for from Day One. In Atlanta, Owens primarily served on special teams this past year, where he was an effective gunner. When injuries mounted at the cornerback position, particularly late in the year with Asante Samuel’s shoulder injury, Owens got more reps in the lineup as the nickel back. Alford likely will be expected to play the same role, as he’s listed as Samuel’s primary backup at left cornerback on the team’s depth chart. Alford has been working on the outside and inside, although he probably won’t see too many reps at the latter unless Robert McClain goes down with an injury.
Like Owens, Alford’s primary value in 2013 may come on special teams. Not only does Alford have the potential to contribute as a gunner on coverage units, he also may win the Falcons return duties as well. Alford shined as a punt returner in college, but his skillset might be ideally suited to returning kickoffs as well. He nearly scored a touchdown in the Senior Bowl on a kickoff no thanks to current teammate Desmond Trufant. His long speed is something the Falcons haven’t seen on returns since the heyday of Allen Rossum. If Alford shows that ball security is not an issue, then he is certainly the front runner to man either spot this season heading into camp.