First Round, 22nd Pick
Desmond Trufant didn't follow in his big brother Marcus' footsteps when he chose to play collegiate football at Washington (big brother went to Washington State), but he is very likely to become the second member of the family to go in the first round of the NFL draft. Marcus went 11th overall.
Let's take a look at why Desmond could one-up his brother and go in the top 10.
Trufant is a tremendous and fluid athlete, but he also plays his position with aggression and awareness. He fights through blocks to make plays in the running game and after the catch, and he plays with top effort at all times.
While he will read the quarterback's eyes and peek in the backfield, Trufant's keen instincts and physical awareness allow him to recover and rarely give up big plays. He is battle-tested and will be a reliable man coverage corner when left on an island, whether it's outside or in the slot. Cornerbacks with both the feet and quickness to cover in the slot and length/speed to cover outside are rare.
Good open-field runners can sometimes break down Trufant too easily in one-on-one situations,,and while the fight is there, the strength to get off blocks isn't. His aggressiveness will sometimes take him out of plays like wide receiver screens when he guesses early.
Trufant has the speed to blitz, but he doesn't do well when he clashes with a blocking back. Trufant is not a true ball thief. He often opts to knock the ball down instead of try to intercept it and isn't always natural making a play on the ball. Trufant will also occasionally have trouble spotting the ball in the air.
Trufant was one of the two or three most impressive physical specimens at cornerback that competed at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine. He has good size at 6'0", 190 lbs, and his blistering 4.38 40 and 3.85 short shuttle times were among the best at his position. His vertical is also ready for prime time at 37.5", and he knows how to maximize that ability to defend the deep ball. His speed, quickness, and explosion also allow Trufant to recover when he is initially beaten.
Coming from a football family helps a lot, as Trufant was a four-year (including his true freshman year) player and captain for the Huskies. By all accounts Trufant is a high-character leader and hard worker who will fit right in an NFL locker room.
Trufant has played man and zone and is accomplished at both. He shines the brightest in press-bail because of his combination of aggressiveness and athleticism.
Playing the Ball
Trufant plants and drives on the ball in the air with great urgency and speed. He is a terrific leap timer and can hang in the air longer and higher than many receivers. He usually gets his hands on the ball, but Trufant isn't very good at securing the interception. He also has trouble finding the ball in the air when he turns around at times, but his speed, quickness and ups can make up for that flaw. He also high points the ball naturally, even if it doesn't often lead to interceptions.
Against the Run
Trufant is not shy against the run and is generally very active, but with mixed results. He closes quickly on plays in front of him and will try to stalemate his blocker to force the running back inside, but sometimes gets overpowered by wide receivers. He's not a strong or sure tackler in the open field, but he's not a liability against the run, either.
Trufant is active with his hands in press coverage, but he doesn't always re-route the receiver or give himself an advantage in coverage. Luckily for him, Trufant has outstanding "makeup" speed, although he can be beaten deep.
Trufant anticipates and guesses well while reading the quarterback's eyes, but he can overcommit and give up receptions because of it. Sometimes it looks like Trufant is running the route better than the receiver he is covering. His footwork and smooth athleticism combine for a nice hip flip to turn and run, and he has an extra gear out of his backpedal. He's confident and should be among the best man coverage corners in this draft.
Trufant can hang in zone coverage, but it is a bit of a waste of his talents. He understands where he needs to be on the field and drives decisively on plays in front of him. He is a quick-twitch athlete who can jump receivers that come into his zone and recover to be involved elsewhere when they are not targeted.
Trufant will get his hands dirty, but he doesn't always wrap up and sometimes relies on throwing his shoulder into a ball-carrier with poor results. He's not as strong as his 16 bench press reps at the combine indicate, so physical receivers may give him problems in the pros after the catch.
Trufant is very good at staying low in his backpedal and uncoiling out of it to turn and run with the receiver. His jam can be ideal at times, but it is also ineffective on some plays. Trufant's aggressive mindset can be his worst enemy when he overreacts to subtle moves by wide receivers, as detailed here by Alen Dumonjic (The Score). When Trufant's technique breaks down, he has been sometimes able to get by on his physical gifts, but that won't fly in the pros.
Future Role/Scheme Versatility
Defensive coordinators will love Trufant because he'll be able to play both inside and outside and cover just about every kind of receiver effectively. His durability (47 starts) will combine with that versatility to save a defense when another corner goes down. He projects as a No. 1 corner who won't need safety help over the top.