Like most small-school prospects, Robert Alford hasn't received a lot of play leading up to the draft. A lot of these future NFL players rely heavily on postseason outings like the Senior Bowl and combine to make their names known.
That being said, the NFL itself is littered with these "small timers," who show that they can make it with the big boys.
Lets take a look at five things you need to know about this former Southeastern Louisiana defensive back.
Full Name: Robert Alford (January 1, 1990)
Hometown: Hammond, Louisiana
High School: Hammond High School in Hammond, Louisiana
Only two other schools, Louisiana Tech and Southern Mississippi, showed interest in Robert Alford coming out of high school in 2008. Needless to say, recruitment just wasn't there in the smallish city of Hammond, Louisiana.
A two-way star at Hammond High School, Alford finished second in the state track and field championships in the 400-meter dash. This athleticism was on full display on the football field, where Alford recorded 10 touchdowns as a wide receiver his senior season.
Alford received a degree in general studies with a focus in psychology from Southeastern Louisiana University this past fall (via Lionssports.net).
He donated $300 to the Lions Athletic Association to help keep the program running immediately following his gradation. Alford had these kind words to say about the school and program:
Southeastern helped me with my education by providing the tools necessary to succeed. They made sure that we had access to tutors and study hall whenever we needed them, and they worked closely with my adviser to ensure my success in the classroom....Southeastern also helped me become a better athlete. The coaches will expect and take nothing less than 150 percent from you.
Never forget your roots and those who helped you get this far is the point that I am assuming Alford was making there. No doubt, he has a great head on his shoulders transitioning from amateur football to the NFL.
2009 (Freshman): 10 games, 46 tackles, 35 solo, five passes defended and one interception.
2011 (Sophomore): 11 games, 52 tackles, 45 solo, seven passes defended and five interceptions.
2012 (Senior): 11 games, 39 tackles, 35 solo, eight passes defended and four interceptions.
Robert Alford was named the 2012 National FCS Defensive Player of the Year by the College Sports Journal (via Kentwood News Ledger).
After his impressive performance in three seasons with Southeastern Louisiana, Alford will become the first player ever drafted in the program's 10-year history (via Nola.com). That's an amazing feat by itself.
All statistics provided by Southeastern Louisiana University
Weight: 188 pounds
Arm Length: 32.0"
Hand Size: 9 1/2"
Broad Jump: 132.0"
40-Yard Dash: 4.39
20-Yard Shuttle: 4.23
Three-Cone Drill: 6.89
Vertical Jump: 40.0"
Bench Press: 17 reps at 225
After a stellar Senior Bowl performance that saw Robert Alford record an 88-yard kickoff return and game-clinching interception of Zac Dysert on a failed two-point conversation, scouts came away incredibly impressed.
For his part, Alford was excited about representing his school at the All-Star game.
“This has been a dream ever since I stepped foot on campus....I wanted to make it my agenda to get to the Senior Bowl and showcase my talents out here.
That being said, it was the combine in Indianapolis that really put Alford on the map and into the conversations of mainstream scouts.
His 4.39 40-yard time placed him fourth among cornerbacks, behind only Darius Slay, Dee Milliner and Desmond Trufant; all more highly-touted prospects.
Showing great athleticism, Alford tied Xavier Rhodes for the best performance among cornerbacks in the broad jump. All said, Alford finished in the top five at his position in four of the six generic drills he participated in.
Ian Rapoport over at NFL.com had this to say about Alford following a great performance at Southeastern Louisiana's pro day.
Hearing ton of buzz about a player I'd slept on before today: CB Robert Alford of SE Louisiana. Raw, sick athlete. 8-10 visits. 1-2 rounder?
Alford isn't just a workout warrior, so don't get the wrong idea. I wouldn't be surprised to see him go a lot earlier than most experts predict.
All combine numbers provided by NFL.com
Alford's hometown of Hammond, Louisiana has some historical significance dating back to the 20th century.
Louisiana was ground zero for Nazi POW camps during World War II. It just so happened that the small city of Hammond held one of those camps.
Hodding Carter II, a civil right volunteer, set up show with the Hammond Daily Courier around the same time. While the newspaper ended up going out of print, Carter played a vital role in the American civil rights movement. He also won a Pulitzer Prize for his editorials against World War II internment camps in the United States back in 1946.
Former NFL general manager Ted Sundquist, who I have spoken with multiple times and seems like a great judge of talent, had the following to say about Alford's performance on tape:
1st chance to watch (Robert Alford) tonight really close on tape. This is what NFL Draft corner prospects look like! Great work.
I agree. He is among the most impressive cornerback prospects in the entire draft. The small-school product plays really loose on the outside, will not struggle at the line in press and possesses fluid hips in coverage. These are three things scouts look for the most in the NFL.
Our very own Ryan Lownes sees Alford as an early day-two pick.
CB might be "the" priority, however. Several good 2nd Rd options, perhaps D.J. Hayden or Robert Alford would work.
That doesn't surprise me in the least. Despite playing against less-than-stellar competition in college, Alford seems to possess the necessary skill set to be a starting cornerback in the NFL.
Vincent Frank is an NFL featured columnist here at Bleacher Report. Vincent is the head sports editor over at eDraft, co-host of Draft Sports Radio, which airs every Monday and Wednesday from 3 to 6 p.m. ET, and a fantasy writer for Pro Football Focus.
Go ahead and give him a follow on Twitter @VincentFrankNFL.