[Note: Want to see a list of every player featured in our “Draft Target” segment? Click here to visit the Offseason Tracker where there will be a list of all these players. Check back often as there are plenty more to come!]
If the Vikings were hoping to bring back Antoine Winfield after releasing him, as Leslie Frazier has indicated as a possibility, they have yet to succeed on that front. That was part of the reason I assigned Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant to the Vikings in my most recent version of my 2013 Mock Draft.
So, who is Desmond Trufant, and why do I think Minnesota is a potential landing spot for him in April?
The younger brother of former Pro Bowl corner Marcus Trufant is entering the NFL Draft with a lot of momentum after an excellent showing in both the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine. At 6′ 0″ and 190 pounds, Trufant has the size you look for in an NFL cornerback, and his 4.38 seconds in the forty time was among the best at the Combine.
A lot of scouts seem to think Trufant could be the next version of Revis Island because of his ability to hang with the best receivers in man coverage. I don’t know that I would go that far, but the guy certainly has some skills in that area, and he is no slouch playing in zone schemes either. Having options at the corner position, whether a man assignment or not, is a must for the Vikings who have the likes of Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall in their division.
Trufant has NFL speed and athleticism, while showing the ability to be physical when needed, and displays natural instincts and timing which allows him to always be in a position to high-point or battle for the ball while it is in the air. His numbers haven’t been overly consistent throughout his four-year college career, but some of that has to do with teams (such as LSU this last season) avoiding him completely for entire games.
Like many Vikings observers, I am hesitant to call Trufant a perfect match in the Vikings Tampa-2 defense, however. He isn’t the world’s most consistent tackler and he may not be strong enough to give NFL caliber receivers the business at the line of scrimmage. Despite the scheme questions and the Vikings emphasis on having high-quality tacklers playing corner, I think the Vikings could benefit from grabbing themselves a top-notch cover corner this year. At some point talent just has to trump scheme, especially when it is potentially elite talent like I suspect Trufant possesses.
The Vikings must continue to improve their secondary like they did last offseason, especially with the passing games they face during divisional games, and they are already off to a poor start thanks to Winfield’s departure. Trufant is the type of guy they could stick on any number of talented receivers in the NFC North and have confidence that he is as capable as anybody on the roster currently.
I would also like to point out that Trufant has only ever missed one game of football through his four seasons. Over those same four years, the Vikings have been plagued by injuries at the position, and it seems like every one of their corners are an injury risk. It would be really nice to have a guy on the roster that you aren’t constantly going to be worrying baout whether or not he can suit up next week.