Washington's Desmond Trufant is Atlanta's newest No. 1 draft pick.
NEW YORK — The Falcons had a major a hole in their secondary, and they tried to fill in by making another first-round trade.
And under fourth-year general manager Thomas Dimitroff, the Falcons have not been shy about going after first-round talent.
This time it was a more modest move, sliding up eight spots in the first round to select Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant late Thursday night with the 22nd pick overall. The Falcons, slated to pick 30th, made a trade with the St. Louis Rams to select him.
“It’s who we had focused on all throughout the offseason,” Dimitroff said. “We were very fortunate because it was a very eventful middle of the first round. It was very, very active with a lot of trade discussions.”
The Falcons knew they had to get in front of Minnesota to select Trufant. The Vikings had the 23rd and 25th picks. They ended up selecting Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes.
“He’s a very, very athletic individual,” Dimitroff said of Trufant, who has an NFL pedigree — he has two brothers (Isaiah Trufant, Jets; and Marcus Trufant, Seahawks) who also play in the NFL . “He’s very fast. Some had him in the high 4.3s and low 4.4s. He’s a legitimate 4.4 guy. He can jump well. He’s been very productive with 33 PBUs, a school record. We look for people who can get their hands on balls, not only for passes broken up but also interceptions, which he did a nice job with as well.”
Falcons coach Mike Smith said that Trufant, who was a team captain for the Huskies, will compete for a starting position.
“I’m very excited to have Desmond,” Smith said. “He’s a guy who seems to find the football. He set a school record there at Washington for passes defensed. He’s a very active guy. He comes from a long line of family members that have played in the NFL. His two brothers have both been very successful players. I’m anxious to get him here into Atlanta to meet with you guys.”
They gave up a third- and a sixth-round pick and will get a seventh-rounder next season from the Rams.
The Falcons had a need at cornerback. Three of the top five cornerbacks from last season are no longer with the team. Brent Grimes (Miami) and Christopher Owens (Cleveland) left during free agency. Dunta Robinson was released and has signed with Kansas City.
Trufant, who’s 6-feet, 190 pounds, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds at the scouting combine. He said his brothers have been rooting him on the whole way.
“They told me that it’s time to grind and try to make a name for myself,” Desmond said. “I don’t know the last time when there’s been three brothers in the NFL. It’s definitely a milestone. It’s big for our family and our city. And so I’m just going to (keep) it going.”
Marcus Trufant played at Washington State and was selected in the first round (11th overall) of the 2003 draft.
Isaiah Trufant played at Eastern Washington and made the Jets after spending time in the Arena Football League and the United Football League.
The Trufants all play cornerback and are from Tacoma, Wash.
Desmond wants to eventually make a name for himself.
“I have been waiting for this opportunity my whole life,” he said. “All the workouts, all of the season work, all the games - everything is coming down to this moment. I’m very excited.”
Trufant draws some inspiration from Isaiah’s climb up the rough side of the football mountain into the NFL.
“I think my brother Isaiah, he definitely took the long road,” Trufant said. “He’s a very resilient person. It just shows that you never give up on your dream. People might say that you can’t do this or you can’t do that, or you’re too short or you’re not big enough. He just kept working.”
Isaiah and Marcus joined Trufant at the Senior Bowl.
“We hadn’t been together for a while, so that was cool to just spend some time and talk,” Trufant said. “I love my brothers, love my family. And I’m just going to keep the legacy going.”
He considers his instincts, quick feet and his breaks on the ball to be strengths.
At Washington, he played in 50 games and had six interceptions and 33 pass breakups. He was named to the All-Pac 12 first-team last season.
Falcons take another DB — Alford from SE La. — in 2nd round
ATLANTA — Last season, most of the NFL’s defenses feared the Atlanta Falcons’ offense.
This coming season? It may be the other way around.
The Falcons ensured their defense — especially the secondary — would be far better than 2012 on Friday when they selected their second straight defensive back in the 2013 NFL Draft, taking Robert Alford, a 5-foot-10, 186-pound former Southeast Louisiana star with the 60th overall pick in the second round.
Atlanta selected Desmond Trufant, a fellow defensive back out of Washington, in the first round late Thursday night 22nd overall.
Alford climbed teams’ draft charts after strong showings at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine. His 4.39, 40-yard dash had some predicting he would be selected in the first round.
Alford was a an All-Southland Conference player for Southeastern Louisiana and he led the team in interceptions with four last season.
He is the first player drafted out of the program since they brought their football program back in 2003.