For the first time in some time, the New England Patriots enter the NFL draft with a notably limited number of draft picks. Because of the Albert Haynesworth and Chad Johnson trades, the Patriots only have five choices this year in what is considered to be a relatively deep draft class.
That said, the Patriots, as they seem to always be, are in a strong position to trade up in the draft as part of an overall aggressive philosophy for the next two seasons. Picking at 29th overall in the first round should allow them to grab a talented player who can help them immediately, but if they fall for a specific talent they could look to move up or trade future picks to add a choice this year.
This is the first in a series of reports that will look at potential players the Patriots could be targeting in that scenario.
Name: Desmond Trufant
Date of Birth: September 10th, 1990
Height: 6'0 Weight: 190
Trufant has a 4.38 forty time on his resume, but that speed doesn't translate through every aspect of his coverage. That said, he is a very fluid athlete with the agility to break on the ball faster than most of the receivers he covered in college.
At the professional level, that aspect of his game should prove invaluable as the overall speed of the game shouldn't be an issue for him. His recovery in tight spaces or when he loses sight of the receiver is also very impressive.
The first thing that stands out when watching Trufant is his aggression. Aggression is often lauded as a positive without context. In reality, aggression is only a positive when it is used properly. Fortunately for Trufant, his aggression shows off his intelligence and ball-skills.
Trufant's aggression breaks down into two categories: Run support/Screen-stopping and Ball-skills.
Trufant is a willing tackler against running-backs and a protagonist in shutting down screen passes to his side of the field. He beats blockers better than some linebackers, although it must be said that he is going against wide receivers and not offensive tackles, and routinely arrives at the receiver almost at the same time as the football(01:48 mark).
In coverage, Trufant's aggression shows off his ball-skills. He does an excellent job of attacking the football without being overly susceptible to double-moves. His comfort playing in space allows him to stay aware of where the receiver is without losing sight of the ball when it comes his way. This makes him a very hot property as a cornerback who could specialize in playing man coverage at the professional level. Trufant showed off these traits against Stanford, with a game-sealing interception(05:00 mark) in the fourth quarter particularly standing out.
Even before the immaculate conception of Russell Wilson's NFL career, looking down on someone's size in evaluations has always been met with vitriol from certain sections of readers. As a race, human, that is brought up on fairy-tales and Disney films that teach us about the size of the heart overcoming the limitations of the anatomy, that is no real surprise. However, Trufant's size(or lack thereof) cannot be brushed aside.
His height alone isn't a major problem, plenty of 6'0 defensive backs have had success at the professional level. However, his height combined with his frame and skill-set should create some caution for prospective buyers of his draft stock.
Less physical defensive backs in the NFL are often limited to playing as the nickelback or in zone-heavy schemes. If Trufant is to translate his coverage abilities from college to the professional ranks, and become that top-tier man cover corner he proved to be at Washington, then he will at the very least need to bulk up or he risks being pushed around by bigger receivers such as Vincent Jackson on a consistent basis.