Atlanta Falcons: Full Position Breakdown & Depth-Chart Analysis at Cornerback

Scott Carasik@ScottCarasikContributor IIJuly 11, 2015

Atlanta Falcons: Full Position Breakdown & Depth-Chart Analysis at Cornerback

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Cornerback is one of the most important positions in the new defense that Dan Quinn will be running for the Atlanta Falcons in 2015. His defenses are best when they have a top-level cornerback to lead the group and a physical, athletic group of players to complement that top-level cornerback.

    Atlanta has the top cornerback in Desmond Trufant, but the rest of the group is where the questions arise. How well the likes of Robert Alford and Dezmen Southward fit within the new scheme all depends on how well they can adjust to the more physical style of play that the Falcons need.

Desmond Trufant

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    Bob Leverone/Associated Press

    Role: Starting Left Corner

    Desmond Trufant deserved to go to the Pro Bowl the first two seasons of his career. He was that good. He's one of the best coverage corners in the NFL and will be featured as the top corner under Dan Quinn in 2015 and beyond. Trufant has shown early on that he's exceptional at his craft.

    While there are some weaknesses to his game—notably his lack of interceptions—he is still a great all-around cornerback who can lead the defensive backfield for the long term. Trufant is a key building block for Atlanta's long-term success.

Robert Alford

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    Gail Burton/Associated Press

    Role: Competing for Starting Right Corner 

    Robert Alford likely will enter training camp as the starting right cornerback because Jalen Collins was battling injuries. However, the exceptionally athletic Alford will have a dog fight on his hands despite how raw Collins is. Alford has been up and down during his first two seasons as a pro.

    This was never more evident than against the Ravens. Early on in the game, he was burned deep for a touchdown on a double move. Then later on, he intercepted a pass by reading the same double move and driving on the ball. The Falcons need more consistency out of Alford if he's going to start for them.

Jalen Collins

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    Role: Competing for Starting Right Corner 

    Jalen Collins was drafted in the second round to compete for the starting role opposite Desmond Trufant, primarily due to his physical similarities to Richard Sherman. That's not to say that he will be the same kind of cornerback that Sherman is, but he will definitely be a good fit for the scheme.

    His aggression and physicality is something that Dan Quinn wants out of every one of his corners. He has excellent size as well and should take advantage of it within the scheme. However, if he wants to be more than a nickel-formation cornerback, he'll have to beat out Robert Alford for the starting job.

Dezmen Southward

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    Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

    Role: Competing for Nickel

    Dezmen Southward was the Falcons' third-round pick in 2014 and was originally a safety for Atlanta. Under new head coach Dan Quinn, expect Southward to play more cornerback than anything else. He'll be asked to play a more physical nickel than what Atlanta has shown the past few years.

    Southward will also be a key special teams contributor as a gunner like he was in 2014. He will need to show that he can be developed at cornerback to at least be a career nickel within the scheme, though. Otherwise, Southward might be a back-of-roster player for the next few years.

Phillip Adams

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    Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

    Role: Competing for a Roster Spot

    Phillip Adams is a journeyman who has played for many different schemes and coaches already. He didn't make the roster for the Seahawks in the 2014 season and will have an uphill battle for the final spot on the Falcons roster in 2015.

    He'll have to hold off Kevin White and Akeem King for that final roster spot by showing that his leadership, special teams ability and overall talent is at a higher level. However, it wouldn't be shocking to see Adams get cut near the end of training camp if Dan Quinn is more comfortable with King and White.

Akeem King

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    Role: Competing for a Roster Spot

    Akeem King, a 2015 seventh-round pick, will have to earn his role on the roster. The Falcons cornerback played safety and receiver in college, but he projects best as an outside corner in Dan Quinn's scheme that focuses on aggression and physicality from his corners.

    King fits with this well, as he's a good all-around athlete and a smart player. However, he's extremely raw and may not even be able to play cornerback for the Falcons in 2015. If he wants to earn a role on the roster, he'll have to show abilities on special teams that other gunners won't have.

Kevin White

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Role: Competing for a Roster Spot

    Kevin White was an excellent cornerback in college and should have been drafted by a team in the fourth or even fifth round of the 2015 draft. White is a solid overall cornerback and can cover from the slot or outside in any scheme. He'll have to earn his spot with special teams prowess, though.

Michael Lee

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    Role: Competing for a Roster Spot

    Michael Lee played for multiple programs in college, starting at UMass and finishing up at Division II Fort Valley State. Unfortunately, he hasn't shown enough on the field to really warrant anything more than a camp-body status. Unless he magically becomes a good player, it would be shocking to see him as more than a camp body in 2015.

Jonathan Mincy

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    Todd J. Van Emst/Associated Press

    Role: Competing for a Roster Spot

    Despite playing for Auburn, Jonathan Mincy was only a solid player at the college level. And while his big-time college experience might make him worthy of a practice squad spot, it will be extremely tough for him to make the roster in 2015.

    All stats used are from Pro Football Focus' Premium StatsESPN.comCFBStats or NFL.com. All combine and pro day info is courtesy of NFLDraftScout.com. All contract information is courtesy of Spotrac.

    Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, college football, the NFL and the NFL draft. He's also the Featured Draft Analyst for Pro Football Spot.