By now everyone knows the Falcons selected two cornerbacks with their first two picks in the 2013 NFL Draft and though they're teammates now, they first met back at the Senior Bowl.
With the offseason exit of Dunta Robinson and Brent Grimes, starters in the past for the Falcons, there was a cornerback need going into the draft and Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff addressed it with the picks of Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford.
Since Mike Nolan arrived in Atlanta to head the defense, he's been open about his need for numerous cornerbacks to play the pass. The Falcons operated out of a nickel defense frequently last season, employing three corners on the field. Asante Samuel and Robert McClain, starters from last season, are back to give some veteran experience, but Trufant and Alford will be relied on as rookies in 2013 to help the defense continue to improve.
All of the Atlanta rookies, including their draft picks and a long list of college free agents and minicamp tryout players, were in Flowery Branch during the weekend to begin the process of learning what it takes to be a Falcon, and both young corners impressed the coaching staff with what they were able to do with limited study time.
"I think both those guys were very comfortable out there on the field with the limited coverages that we put in," head coach Mike Smith said on Saturday. "I think you'll see their skill set is what we anticipated. They play with a lot of confidence and I think that's important."
Both Trufant and Alford were on the field together, covering receivers out wide. They showed the speed, athleticism and coverage expected and got their hands on some passes during 11-on-11 drills. The competition may not be of the caliber that it will be once the rookies join their veteran teammates, but the competitive spirirt of both young players was evident. Trufant, the 2013 first-round pick, was particularly impressive, showing quickly why he was one of the top corners in the draft.
"The competition was fun," Smith said. "Those guys were getting out there working against each other. Desmond's got a very good skill set. He's going to get thrown a whole bunch of things at him over the next month, month and a half. Getting all of these guys here is really important because this is really the start of the recalibration of our roster. We added a bunch of guys in the draft and they'll begin to be integrated in with the rest of the players."