+Stock is on the rise, play is on the rise
+Fluid for his size
-Feel for the game is much improved, but still mediocre
-Mediocre ball skills
-Can’t read the eyes of quarterbacks and receivers alike
-Could improve technique for getting off blocks
-Takes odd angles to the ball
Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant (younger brother of Marcus Trufant) is growing on me. For a while, I saw a guy with good physical tools that also played with solid on field intensity that had absolutely no feel for the game of football. He had no instincts in coverage and allowed as many catches on curls and comeback routes as any corner I’ve ever seen, thrown off balance by the simplest double moves or deceptive eyes. But, his feel has really has improved since then, going from poor to mediocre, maybe even average, and, if it ever becomes above average, he should make at least one Pro Bowl in the NFL.
Trufant has good measurables. He has solid height at 6’0, decent bulk at 190lbs, and above average speed with a 4.38 40 yard dash. His arms were on the short side for a guy 6’0, (31 1/4 in), but he did a respectable 16 bench reps at 225lbs, to go along with a respectable 37.5 in vertical.
Trufant has mediocre stats. In 2012, he had 36 tackles and 1 interception in 12 games. In 2011, he had 64 tackles and 2 interceptions in 13 games. In 2010, he had 48 tackles and 1 interception in 13 games. In 2009, he had 47 tackles and 2 interceptions in 12 games. Part of the reason he didn’t have many tackles this year is because he was injured late in the season, but the mediocre interception numbers are cause for concern.
Trufant is solid in man coverage, but with the potential to be very good. In the opening paragraph, I talked about how his feel for the game has improved a bit. In man coverage, the biggest difference is that he isn’t always on each extreme of the physicality spectrum. He used to either hardly touch his man or commit a blatant pass interference. That side of him is pretty much gone. That being said, he still struggles to read the eyes of receivers, and his technique could definitely be improved in press man. One frustrating thing is that he doesn’t change directions very sharply in man coverage, flashing incredible fluidity in pursuit but only average fluidity in man coverage. The only reason I can think of for this is that he doesn’t change directions out of a backpedal as easily as he does running straight forward. He also desperately needs bulk and strength, for the sake of press coverage against bigger receivers, simply because his average quickness translates to him having struggles against matchups like Antonio Brown, Wes Welker, and Steve Smith, in which case he’ll have to cover a guy with more size and strength. Still, his biggest problem is covering a guy that runs good routes, since he can’t read the eyes of receivers and can be fooled by double moves. Hopefully, he will improve in this area. He’s solid when the ball is in the air, showing that he has the ability to break up passes (especially on the deep ball) and get into good position. He has above average recovery speed and solid burst. His long speed is good and he almost never has a problem covering the deep ball.
I’ve heard a lot about Trufant being really good in zone coverage, but I don’t really see it. The biggest issue is that he can’t read the quarterback’s eyes (one reason he rarely gets picks). There are often times I see him standing still in zone coverage because he can’t read the quarterback’s eyes and doesn’t know where to move. His spacing can be bad too, sometimes being a bit too close to other defenders. That being said, his lateral quickness is solid, he has above average range, and shows a solid feel for receivers entering his zone.
Trufant’s ball skills are average overall. He has solid leaping ability and knows how to break up passes, but he very rarely gets interceptions and doesn’t show the burst necessary to jump routes and make big plays. Also, if his back is to the quarterback, he usually doesn’t show the ability to read the eyes of receivers and look back for the football, which occasionally results in pass interference penalties.
Trufant is mediocre to below average against the run. He’s adequate as a tackler (better against receivers), with some length but not much strength. He has average toughness, but he doesn’t do a good job of shedding blocks (could improve technique there) and rarely makes tackles in traffic. His instincts are below average and he often takes poor angles to the ball against the run. He could definitely be better in this area
In the end, Trufant is a decent player. He has the potential to be very good, but, until he improves his strength and technique, he”ll be average.
NFL Comparison: Antoine Cason
Grade: 89 (worthy of an early 2nd, maybe late 1st round pick)
Projection: 92 (will be a late 1st round pick)