(Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports)
Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson was questioned by ESPN blogger Paul Kuharsky last week on whether he would be more comfortable starting a rookie offensive lineman, or a rookie defensive back – two positions of need for the Colts.
Grigson's response has set tongues wagging in the Colts community, as he said; “I would have to say a defensive back. Because a first-year offensive lineman, there are a lot more bullets flying in that vicinity he’s working in that involves thinking, that involved experience. That’s why for rookie tackles, they call it a baptism by fire. You don’t say that because it’s an easy process. A lot of times that ends up working in their favor, that they were thrown out there like that.
"But a lot of times depending on the scheme you play, corners that play on an island they are relying on technique and pure athletic ability and God-given ability. A lot of times on the offensive line, their first year they are going to see exotic blitzes that they’ve never even dreamed of. They are going to see pass-rushers and body types that they never knew existed. I would say definitely corner.”
Does this mean the Colts are definitely going to draft a cornerback in the first round? Of course not. But it does hint that they are in the market for one, and why wouldn't they be? Jerraud Powers is a free agent, whilst Cassius Vaughn and Darius Butler didn't show enough to suggest they're ready for starting roles.
There are a number of options for the Colts in the first round, including Florida State's Xavier Rhodes and Johnthan Banks of Mississippi State.
But one of the biggest names to come out of the Scouting Combine over the last few days was Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant. A strong Senior Bowl week had pushed Trufant into first round discussion, and he again impressed in the drills at Lucas Oil Stadium on Monday.
Trufant ran a 4.31 and a 4.38 40 yard dash, impressing scouts with his speed, but he's also regarded as one of the most competitive players in this draft class. He's not afraid to get physical with receivers on the outside and excels in man coverage. He's the type of player you can imagine Chuck Pagano loving, especially with Pagano's extensive history of coaching defensive backs.
Here are a few plays from the games against Boise State and Stanford, to see whether Trufant would be a fit with the Colts at 24.
From the snap, Trufant gets his hands on the receiver. The quarterback is surveying the field as the two battle on the outside.
As you can see below, the play develops with Trufant perfectly covering the receiver, tracking his route brilliantly and preventing a throw in his direction.
The next play is also from the Boise State game, and this time Trufant is lined up in off coverage, creating something of a cushion between himself and the receiver. He's lined up nearer to the sideline than the receiver is here, as he's looking to take away any outside route.
However, the receiver gets free and creates a gap between himself and Trufant. With the safety biting on the play action fake, it's down to Trufant to make a play to prevent a huge gain.
Trufant is trailing the receiver by a yard or two, but his closing speed on the ball is incredibly impressive, as he tracks the ball in the air, leaps above the receiver and knocks the ball down, preventing the completion.
Next up, it's the Stanford game, where Trufant faced Pep Hamilton's offense - who is of course, the new Colts offensive coordinator. The game exposed one of Trufant's big weakness; his run defense. Running back Stepfan Taylor saw a lot of the ball and Trufant was ineffectual against the run, consistently taking bad angles and seemingly taking himself out of the play.
However, he was matched up against receiver Ty Montgomery for most of the game and again exhibited some encouraging man coverage skills.
Again, Trufant is going to try and jam the receiver at the line of scrimmage by getting his hands on him.
Montgomery is running a double move, and Trufant again shows he can track routes of receivers by sticking close to him, and eventually knocking the ball down to prevent the completion.
For the defense that Chuck Pagano runs, Trufant seems a nice fit. He's got great speed and he's physical, leading me to believe that we could draft him and start him from day one opposite Vontae Davis in a scheme that utilises man coverage.
Of course, Trufant's impressive Combine performance means that there are bound to be plenty of teams interested in his services. If you follow me on Twitter, you'll know that I'd like to trade down if possible, but if we want Trufant to be a Colt, we surely won't be able to by moving out of the 24th pick.
Physical cornerback who gets aggressive
Possesses very good recovery speed
Has shown he can excel in man coverage
Tracks the ball in the air well
Has the ability to mirror a receiver's route well
Great competitiveness and confidence
Seems to avoid contact in the run game
Takes bad angles when tackling
Gets away with contact that might not fly in the NFL
Doesn't make many "splash" plays
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Well what Grigson says make a lot of sense. Odd isn't it that when someone in the NFL actually speaks honestly it lights the internet on fire.
I don't really see how it effects the draft though. IF the Colts are building to be a playoff competitor next season then it matters. After being convinced by Colts Authority that the team should go for it while Luck is cheap the comment seems important. That said, we have no way of knowing if the Colts FO thinks the same way. Maybe they would rather develop talent over a couple of seasons rather than going for a player that can contribute right away.
@OllyDawes 4 year starter, team captain. Someone to bet on. Sarkisian trusted him. The defense was awful in 2011, Tru remained level.
Good stuff here on Trufant RT @OllyDawes: Another plug for my Desmond Trufant article... http://t.co/WbEGB7XLEJ #Colts #NFLDraft
Just looked at 3 games, Oregan, Utah, and Stanford here is my take away, very fiesty CB, sometimes a little handsy past 5 yards, does a excellent job staying with his man, and making breaks on the ball, plays best in tight man, but can play off man pretty well. He did not do well in a lot of tackling situations, and like what was said he seems not to be a factor in run defense, he does not find the ball carrier well, and does not commit to the tackle often enough.
One interesting not is they have him blitz a ton, but due to his lack of strength and size if someone gets their hand on him he has zero chance of getting to the QB, just bump him and he is out of the play, but on a free run he closes fast.
To me he looks like a solid player that I would not mind taking at the early part of the 2nd.
Thanks, I have only looked briefly at Trufant, I guess I fell in love with Xavier Rhodes and what he can do and I would love to get him, Johnathan Banks not so much for me, along with Amerson.
I have a question, for the play that he made once he got beat, was the ball thrown correctly by the QB, or did the WR have to slow down or change his angle to the ball on that play?
I would also like to add, I love that Grigson really answered that question. He didn't just give some canned non commital reply, he actually said what he believed. (Perhaps, this is the common thought around the league, but I had never heard it before.) Anyway, I found it refreshing.
@paulcareyjr The WR seemed to slow down to me. Trufant still had to make a great play on the ball though.
@OllyDawes Yeah, definitely. I follow UW as well. Think his 'bloodline' should stand him in good stead as well.
@OllyDawes yeah seems to be able to track the football pretty well and make sure he gets a hand on it.