The stats and eye test agree: Desmond Trufant has evoled into a Pro Bowl-caliber cornerback. This is a well-known fact here in Atlanta, but across the league, few have given him the credit he deserves.
Slowly, however, this is starting to change.
Grantland's Robert Mays on Friday penned a column about the NFL's seven shutdown corners, and Trufant, 24, made the cut.
"No one has a better chance to move into a different class of corner this year than Trufant," said Mays. "What already makes the former first-round pick so good is his otherworldly ability to change direction … He's one of the league's quickest corners (a 3.85 in the 20-yard shuttle at the combine put him in the 98th percentile among tested corners), and he also has a knack for knowing how to sit on a receiver's ideal route."
Like the rest of Atlanta's secondary, Trufant stands to benefit from Dan Quinn's defense, which asks CBs to play man coverage roughly 95 percent of the time. It's a straightforward, relatively easy scheme to digest, and it allows players to lean on their physical skills rather than get bogged down in mental gymnastics.
Perhaps this is exactly what the 2013 first-round pick needs to become a recognizable force across the football world.
"(T)he other reason Trufant seems poised for a jump is how much simpler his life may get in Dan Quinn's defense," Mays said. "With a steady diet of Cover 3 and man, Trufant's speed and quickness should come to the forefront while his tendency to get lost should fade even further.
"He's already a star. He's about to be a star who's a household name."