The pick that makes you say, "Wait, did they just take one of those?"
Robert Alford is the Atlanta Falcons 2013 second-round pick. Say hello to the new Falcons starting return specialist and dime cornerback for the 2013 season and beyond. Alford is a 25-year-old cornerback from Southeastern Louisiana and is a potential long-term starter for Atlanta.
The Falcons have made it a point to go out and get playmakers to add to their defense. They also noticed that they lost Dunta Robinson—a cover corner—and Brent Grimes—a playmaking corner. So they went out and got Desmond Trufant in the first to be a direct replacement for Robinson.
Then in the second, they noticed that there was going to be a likely cornerback run. Too much talent was at the position, and they picked their guy to make cornerback a strength and not a weakness. Sure, the Falcons have other holes, but they have enough guys who can start that they can make one position a true strength.
On the field
While Falcons fans kept clamoring for Tyrann Mathieu in the weeks leading up to the draft, the Falcons decided to take a better player than him on the field in Alford. Don't let his small school stature make you think that he's not a talented cornerback. Alford can play zones and man coverages well and has excellent athleticism.
He can play in the slot and is a willing tackler even if he isn't the strongest player in the world. The biggest issue with his game is his size. At just 5'10", Alford is going to have to play bigger than he is. He does have a ridiculous vertical at 40.0" and will look like a Brent Grimes clone out on the field if he gets a chance to develop.
But honestly, the part of this pick that makes the most sense is his returning ability. The Falcons have had troubles in their special teams units over the past two seasons with this aspect, and adding someone who is a truly good returner is a brilliant move. Alford has a return for a touchdown in college and will be able to contribute there early in the NFL.
Off the Field
Robert Alford is known as the ultimate team player. He just wants to get on the field to help his team win in whatever way he can. Whether it was returning punts, playing the nickel or even playing on offense every now and again, expect him to be used very much the same in Atlanta. Atlanta Falcons.com's Daniel Cox tweeted out more info about him off the field:
Oh, yet another team captain for Comrade Thomas Dimitroff?
Let's not act shocked here. The Falcons know what they are doing when it comes to taking players based on character. Alford was never arrested or suspended while at Southeastern Louisiana and will allow the Falcons to use him however they need to.
The Falcons will enjoy having their new cornerback and return specialist. He will bring some talent to the special teams units and improve what is already a strength on the Falcons.
For more information on Robert Alford, check out Eric Stoner's scouting report.
All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus's Premium Stats, ESPN, CFBStats or the NFL. All contract information is courtesy Spotrac and Rotoworld. All recruiting rankings come from 247Sports.com.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL Draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.