The Eagles, like their secondary, are in a state of flux. Things will change with this team and the secondary is where you can expect a lot of transition. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomaugha came to the Eagles in 2011 with high expectations, but so far have been worse then anyone could have imagined. Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman were drafted in the 2010 NFL Draft and have since shown flashes but have mostly had moments that that leave fans shaking their heads. While the secondary turnaround is likely a two-year gig, the time to act is now when it comes to starting that process.
So far we have looked at a pair of talented veterans (George Wilson, Keenan Lewis) and a popular rookie prospect (Matt Elam), but today we look at a young cornerback who has really upped his stock to fans and commentators alike, due to his great performance during the Senior Bowl: University of Washington's Desmond Trufant.
The name Trufant may sound familiar, that's because Desmond is the little brother of former Eagles cornerback and special teamer, Isaiah Trufant and Seattle Seahawks former Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Trufant. Football is in Desmond's blood (here's an interesting look at the Trufant family). If he gets selected in the this year's draft (he will) Desmond, Isaiah and Marcus would become the first cornerback brother trio in NFL history.
Enough about the family, onto the talent and attributes of Desmond Trufant. The former Huskie has a lot of experience as a four-year starter (47 career starts). He was also a First Team All-Pac 12 player in 2012, so he has excelled as a star play in his conference. The youngest Trufant is a physical cornerback, who is very good with his hands and getting in the face of offensive players. CBS says he is tough and "doesn't shy from contact and will get his nose dirty in run support."
Trufant is considered very athletic with great natural ability. NFL.com spotlights his physical prowess saying he has "very good short-area foot quickness, mirrors receivers on the outside on double moves up the sideline or quick out routes. Capable of playing either outside or in the slot. Has speed to run with better receivers." The website also highlights his ability to play the ball in the air and his competitive nature.
As previously mentioned, most people took notice of Trufant during this year's Senior Bowl. He was one of the guys to really "up" his stock during that week, according to former Eagles scout and NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah. Raiders Head Coach, Dennis Allen, was quoted by Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News saying that Desmond has the "moxie" and "swagger" to play in the league.
Desmond is not without his faults. CBS says he uses "streaky technique once the ball is snapped and reverts to bad habits, relying on his natural athleticism over fundamentals." NFL.com adds that his "poor technique in press makes him susceptible to giving up plays. Gives up the sideline in the run game when failing to get outside leverage against receiver blocks." These aforementioned weaknesses sound familiar, huh?
NFL.com compares Trufant to Antoine Cason. CBS analysts have him being taken in the late first round.
Trufant has average NFL cornerback size at 6'0" and 185 lbs. He is very good with using his hands when competing for the ball in the air. He is patient on routes and is best when playing off. Trufant knows how to stay on the wide receiver's hip and stay close in coverage. Against Utah, he was only targeted against four times, and only one intermediate pass was caught (which you could also blame on his safety help). Trufant is not the type of guy to give up on a play, as you can see in the Utah game. He was beat on a vertical pass, but stayed with the play and caused enough of a pass defense to make the receiver hesitate and drop the ball.
As far weaknesses go, Trufant is not the best in run support. I tend to agree with NFL.com's assertion that he has a tough time when runners go outside, which is evident in the large touchdown run by Utah on Trufant's tape. He basically was blown past, despite easily being able to make a play. Another issue with Trufant is a lack of turnover production (1 INT in 2012), but then again, he avoided being targeted a lot last year. Trufant is also likely to be a late first round pick, so you would also have to weigh whether or not he is worth trading back into the first to acquire him. That could be a real issue when you consider the many needs the Eagles have in the secondary, defensive line and offensive line.
So now that you know more about Trufant, would you want the Eagles to take him in this year's NFL Draft?
You can follow Mike Kaye on Twitter @mike_e_kaye.