Now an NFL veteran, Robert Alford has established himself as one of Atlanta's best defensive players. Here's what you need to know about the 27-year-old:
A native of Hammond, La., Alford attended Hammond High Magnet School. He was a star wide receiver with the Tornadoes and caught 10 touchdowns passes during his senior year. He was also on the track team and, in 2008, finished second in the 400-meter dash at the state track and field championships.
Alford went to college at Southeastern Louisiana. There, as a 5-foot-10 athlete in Division 1 football, he made a successful transition from receiver to cornerback. During the 2011 and 2012 campaigns, he tallied nine interceptions and 15 pass breakups. He was named to the First-Team All-Southland conference as a senior.
Only two other colleges showed legitimate interest in Alford during the recruiting process: Louisiana Tech and Southern Mississippi.
- Alford's older brother, Fred Booker, was a cornerback at Louisiana State and played in the Arena Football League and NFL Europe before suiting up for 12 games with the New Orleans Saints in 2005.
Alford's strong play at SLU made him one of the best cornerbacks available in the 2012 NFL Draft. However, that wasn't clear until the Senior Bowl, where he earned an 88-yard kickoff return and sealed a victory with a last-minute pick during a failed two-point conversion attempt.
After turning heads in Mobile, Ala., Alford impressed teams at the Scouting Combine. His 4.39-second 40-yard dash was the fourth-best time among cornerbacks; Alford's broad jump, recorded at 132 inches, was the longest at his position.
At the 2013 NFL Draft, the Falcons selected Alford in the second round, 60th overall, after taking fellow CB Desmond Trufant in the first.
As a rookie, Alford showed a lot of potential as he handled the duties of Atlanta's No. 3 cornerback. He took over a starting job in 2014 opposite Trufant and displayed the raw athleticism needed to become a premier defensive back.
Alford's third year in the NFL was his best yet. Thanks to his aggressiveness and work in press coverage, he became a solid fit in Dan Quinn's scheme, allowing a paltry 49.3 completion percentage against. Only three qualifying CBs fared better in that regard. Additionally, Alford gave up fewer than 40 receptions—the lowest total among starters at his position. His game-winning pick-six in Week 5 was perhaps the best moment of his NFL career.
- Together, Alford and Trufant have developed into an elite CB tandem. Each made an appearance on Bleacher Report's list of top 30 cornerbacks, as Alford and Trufant finished 29th and fifth, respectively.
With the Falcons employing a nickel package more often than not, they've moved Alford to slot corner when using five defensive backs at once. He appears to be happy with the move, saying, "I'm good with it. Like I said once before, whatever it takes for this team to win, I'm willing to do it."
- Football isn't the only sport Alford watches, he's also a big Atlanta Braves fan.
Alford recently revealed on his Instagram account that he's become a father: