Prospect Profile: Desmond Trufant

Harry How

The strengths and weaknesses of a Cornerback that the San Diego Chargers could draft in the first round to replace Quentin Jammer.

The Chargers' Quentin Jammer may be on his way out (fingers crossed) and I think this draft has some prospects that can fill what his role was (supposed to be) on the team.

Tom Telesco brought in Derek Cox and though it's clear he's seen a lot more of Derek than I have, I don't see him being the man to 'run' with the WR to a - right handed - QB's open side. I expect Derek Cox to resume Cason's role, the third without the flat zone under it, and play it fairly well.

Now, who opposite of Cox? If the season were to begin today, are you okay with the San Diego Chargers starting Marcus Gilchrist or Shareece Wright there? I know I'm not, and this why I set out to find a 'glove' prospect to compete for Jammer's open spot, a player that played mostly man without any help.


Desmond Trufant

#6 / Inside Linebacker / Washington Huskies

Height: 5'11"
Weight: 190
Year: Senior
40 Time: 4.38
Bench press: 18 reps
20 yd shuttle: 3.85
Dee Milliner, arguably top CB in draft ran 4.32

Strengths

If we are talking coverage, specifically coverage for long durations, then look no further than Trufant. Desmond comes from a family filled with cornerbacks and may end up being the best of the bunch.

What is most impressive to me about Trufant is what he can do, coverage wise, in short areas. He shadows receivers on breaking routes and uniquely uses the sideline as his friend, a trick that most seasoned NFL CBs haven't figured out yet. Desmond is able to sniff the slant out, which plagued the Chargers on 3rd down in 2012, and trusts that he can turn hips if the opposing WR runs a double-move to his side.

At 5'11", 190 pounds, Trufant possesses the size needed to play outside and his 4.38 40 combine time tells you that most WRs won't be able to out run him.

Are there any Trojans fans in the forum? If so, you probably only remember winning the game against the Washington Huskies but forgot how average he made future NFL WR Marquise Lee look. Entering that game, Lee was second in the nation in receptions per game and fourth in yards at 129+. Lee left that game with 2 receptions for 32 yards, all of which came early in the game.

I'm not saying that Desmond Trufant will be better than what Dee Milliner will be in the NFL, I just feel he is better fit for this San Diego team. While the Alabama CB may have better skills when the ball is in the air, Trufant gives his team the ability to cover for longer. Dee didn't have to ever worry about this in college. Milliner played man but Saban knew his pass rushers would get to the QB quickly and clearly instructed his corners to play in a position to "see the ball" rather than allowing them to come up, backpedal and break when they feel necessary.

2013 Senior Bowl - WRs vs DBs ONLY (via Max Lukas)

Weaknesses

While I gave him credit on the 18 bench press reps, he rarely shows off this upper-body strength on the field. That may be the one difference between him and Milliner. Trufant is not known for sound tackling and often (and I do mean often) whiffs at easy tackles. Now, don't get me wrong, he is willing to come up and hit. He isn't Antonio Cromartie by any means, but for a player with short area swiftness, Desmond should be able to break down first and beat the runner to the 'lowest' position more often than he does.

While I view him as shutdown corner, it's more than likely that he won't ever lead the league in INTs. However, what Trufant lacks in hands, he more than makes up for it in awareness. He may not make the interception, but he will often let the WR grab ball before ripping away the arm or ball to cause the incomplete pass.

Trufant can be a bit on the aggressive at times. What I mean by this is that he sometimes puts too much faith in his ability to work the sideline. When a WR jumps to outside, you immediately see him extend his arm to direct him to sideline. Markus Wheaton, of Oregon State, set him up masterfully at Senior Bowl practice. At the snap, Wheaton showed a route to outside and Trufant went to extend his arm. On second step of route, Wheaton shifted inside causing Trufant to turn full circle.

This same weakness was attacked in the Stanford game, but Trufant made an in-adjustment which reverts back to my awareness point. The Cardinal lined Zach Ertz up at Flanker, Desmond treated him as if he was a WR. Ertz showed a route outside, allowing Trufant to get body on him. For tight ends, this is what they want. It makes it easier to turn and 'box-out' defender and that's exactly what happened as Ertz picked up positive yardage. Later in the game, Stanford split 6'8" TE Levine Toilolo out side. Trufant, this time, played the outside coverage inviting the QB to throw the slant. The QB expected Desmond to get into Levine, so the TE could eventually gain 'body advantage'. He never did and it messed with the timing of play, the QB overthrew the TE and Desmond was sitting there, not having to move.

Desmond Trufant vs Stanford (2012) (via Aaron Aloysius)

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