Most years I will break down anywhere between three and six games during the course of the year for scouting draft prospects. This year, I did not do that much. In recent weeks I did go back and watch a pair of games that Trufant played this past season, and also did scout him in three games as a junior. But here’s my take on Trufant as a player:
Height: 5-11 5/8
Speed: 4.38 (Combine)
Trufant was a productive, high-character, four-year starter at Washington. He comes from an NFL family, as his oldest brother Marcus played a decade with the Seattle Seahawks (2003-12), earning a Pro Bowl bid in 2007. He has another brother Isaiah, who has spent the past three season as a reserve and special teams player with the New York Jets. Trufant had a solid senior year, but probably entered the off-season considered to be a second day pick. But after a strong week of Senior Bowl practices, where he showed he was comfortable against top competition, his stock began to rise. He coupled that with a strong performance at the Combine, and ultimately was able to push his stock up into the latter part of the first round, earning consensus first round grades from most experts. He earned the starting job within the first month of his true freshman season. He started 45 straight games until missing 1 game late in his senior year with a hamstring injury. Finished his career as the school’s all-time leader in pass deflections with 38.
2012: 12 GP/12 GS, 36 tackles, 4.5 TFLs, 1 sack, 1 INT, 0 yds, 9 PD, 1 FF, 0 FR
2009: 12/9-47-2.0-0.0-2-45-8-0-1 (fumble returned for TD)
– missed 1 game in 2012 due to hamstring injury
2012 GAMES WATCHED
- vs. Stanford (9/27): 7 targets, 3 catches, 53 yards (7.6 YPA), 12 YAC (4.0 avg), 0 TDs, 2 PD, 1 INT
- at Oregon (10/6): 9 targets, 3 catches, 44 yards (4.9 YPA), 22 YAC (7.3 avg), 1 TD, 2 PD, 2 missed tackles, 1 run stuff, 1 penalty (pass interference)
2011 GAMES WATCHED
- vs. Eastern Washington (9/15): 19 targets, 9 catches, 124 yards (6.5 YPA), 24 YAC (2.7 avg), 0 TDs, 1 PD, 1 missed tackle, 1 penalty (pass interference)
- vs. Colorado (10/15): 5 targets, 4 catches, 41 yards (8.2 YPA), 0 YAC (0.0 avg), 1 TD, 1 PD, 0.5 sacks
- vs. Baylor (12/29): 4 targets, 1 catch, 6 yards (1.5 YPA), 6 YAC (6.0 avg), 0 TDs
These are general skills required for his position and relative to not only top collegiate prospects, but also NFL players. Grades are based on a 10-point rating scale: 1-pathetic, 2-poor, 3-weak, 4-below average, 5-average, 6-above average, 7-good, 8-very good, 9-excellent, 10-elite
Speed (7.0) – Trufant clocked a 4.38 at the Combine in Indianapolis, very good speed for a corner. While he does possess good speed, he doesn’t play to his timed speed on film. That speed is likely generated from his track background (he was a triple and long jumper in high school). He can run with faster receivers, but due to deficiencies with his footwork and technique, has a tendency to struggle with fast, explosive guys such as Oregon’s Josh Huff or Baylor’s Kendall Wright in games I’ve watched. With more polish, he should be able to improve in those areas. He does a fairly good job defending the deep ball, because he knows how to get position and use the sideline as his friend. Has burst off the edge to make him an effective blitzer.
Man Coverage (6.5) – Trufant has the tools you want to be an effective man corner at the next level. He has fairly good hips, flexibility, and quick feet. He needs to polish his overall technique however. He can be effective in press coverage as well as off. He can get his hands on receivers and be effective at redirected the smaller guys, although he doesn’t possess the ability nor strength to jam bigger wideouts and tight ends.
Zone Coverage (6.5) – He can play off coverage and has enough range to be an effective zone corner. He does his best work when he’s able to keep things in front him, showing good ball skills to break up the underneath throws. Washington at times this past year even used him as a centerfielder, and he was effective in that role although he’s not a natural safety.
Tackling (6.0) – Trufant is not a great run support corner, but given that very few corners at either the college or NFL level are, he probably gets a bit more of a boost. He doesn’t shy away from his assignments in run support. Shows he’s effective and willing to come downhill and wrap up a ballcarrier on the edge or in the hole at the point of attack. He consistently wraps up and will drag down ballcarriers and receivers. Does a fairly solid job at beating blocks on the edge against the quick screen and making the stop at the line of scrimmage. He’ll occasionally give up too much cushion and take a poor angle after the catch, will allows him to give up some big plays against the more dynamic wideouts.
Ball Skills (6.0) – He shows good ball skills when it comes to breaking on short and underneath throws. As mentioned earlier, when he can keep things in front of him, he is effective at closing and making the deflection. Will high-point the ball when he’s in position to make the play. Doesn’t show great ball skills on the deep throws, as he’ll be late to turn and locate the ball in the air. He doesn’t have great hands and is not likely to get a ton of interceptions.
By and large, I would consider Trufant to be a second-round talent. He’s a player that is good enough to come in right away and compete for a starting position, but lacks the high ceiling to be a top player that you look for in a first round pick at the position.
Grade: 5.9 – A player that has the potential to be a quality starter on your team, but isn’t going to be a Pro Bowl player. Tends to be more of a complementary player that can be a capable starter. Probably takes at least the better part of two years to develop as an impact player, but even when he does is probably not going to be an impact player. The type of player that you prefer to target in the latter half of the second round. Click here for more information on my grading system.
Trufant isn’t the best cornerback prospect, but he has upside. He shows fairly solid technique, but he’ll need to polish it up more so that he can be more consistent. He’s a good athlete, but doesn’t have quite the athletic tools to become a top matchup corner against premier NFL talent. He’ll need to be coached up somewhat, but he’s polished and pro-ready enough that he can come into the league right away and be an effective nickel option, and potential starter as a rookie. He’ll give up some big plays from time to time, but he’ll make receivers work for their production. The bottom line is that he’s a solid all-around corner that is effective at most things, but just doesn’t wow you in any one particular area.
In most NFL environments, I would project him to initially be a nickel corner as a rookie. Washington used him in a variety of ways as a senior, playing him on both sides of the defense, as well as in the slot and in the box, and dropping him into centerfield as a deep safety at times. That versatility should allow him to project to a number of NFL schemes. I think he has the potential and capability of playing in the slot, but he seems to do his best work like most corners on the outside.
In Atlanta, Trufant will be expected to land a starting position right away, likely opposite Samuel at right cornerback. He certainly has the playing personality that will be up for the challenge. He should be an effective starter from the start, but proabbly like most rookies will go through his fair share of struggles. The key with Trufant is the growth that he should have over the first two or three years of his career. By his third season, I would expect him to be a fairly polished product. An easy comparison to make would be to his older brother Marcus, who offers similar size, speed, and playing style. At the peak and prime of Marcus’ career he was a Pro Bowl caliber corner that could cover top wideouts. But he quickly returned to Earth after that. For most of his career, Marcus was a solid to good starter. I think Desmond has similar potential. But how good a corner he becomes I think will depend on how much he polishes his game in the coming years. Without it, he may never ascend to becoming more than an above average starter.