Coming to the Falcons franchise together as rookies playing the same position, it was a safe assumption that cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford would be close after being drafted in the first (Trufant) and second (Alford) rounds of this year's draft.
Though they experienced vastly different football worlds in college with Trufant playing in the Pac-12 at Washington and Alford at small-school Southeastern Louisiana, their relationship began long before becoming roommates and Atlanta Falcons.
"We built camaraderie at the Senior Bowl and we're staying together right now so we've been linked up," Alford said during the team's rookie minicamp in early May.
Trufant missed some time during OTAs as he finished his college degree, but the two corners got a heavy dose of NFL experience during the offseason workouts, the rookie minicamp and the mandatory veteran minicamp. The two have impressed many with what they've been able to do and a secondary that appeared in flux earlier in the offseason suddenly seems to have a bright future.
When Trufant spoke to the media at the end of the veteran minicamp in June he said the friendship started at the Senior Bowl has carried over into a close working relationship now that both are with the Falcons.
"I met Rob at the Senior Bowl and we bonded instantly," Trufant said. "He's a great player. We've been getting better together, out here competing and he's a good player. We're just both competing."
Ironically, the two met on the field during the Senior Bowl as well. Because both play defense they'll never face off in the traditional sense, but Alford's position as one of the top return men at the Senior Bowl meant he was on the field as a returner while Trufant was covering kicks on the opposing side. Alford excited everyone with an 88-yard return, a return that Trufant stopped with a tackle before Alford managed to find the end zone.
During the recent Rookie Symposium, Alford and Trufant visited the NFL Hall of Fame and found former Falcon Deion Sanders' Hall of Fame bust. They made sure to get a picture of the two of them in front of it and Alford shared it from his Twitter account (@rockorocky). Trufant shared at his post-draft introductory press conference that he was choosing to wear Sanders' No. 21 because he idolized him as a young player. The rookie corner is the 11th player in Falcons history to sport the No. 21.
It remains to be seen how the close bond between Trufant and Alford will materialize on the field, but they've already established a competitive spirit that motivates and encourages each other. Ideally Falcons nation would love to see a scenario where Trufant and Alford make up a tandem of the best corners on the field, while being best friends off of it, but that is a little down the line. With training camp set to open in two weeks, the two are expected to compete with Asante Samuel and Robert McClain to make up the team's top four cornerbacks in 2013.