Saturday, December 16, 2017

desmond trufant

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Minnesota Vikings 14, Atlanta Falcons 9

The Vikings did what they set out to do Sunday. Not only did Minnesota win the third-down battle, the defense made the Falcons offense one-dimensional, the secondary shut down Julio Jones and the Purple came away with their eighth straight victory at Atlanta.

Quarterback Case Keenum started slowly but again finished the game strong, completing all 13 pass attempts of the second half, including his last 15 passes of the game. Keenum went 25 of 30 (83.3%) for 227 yards with two touchdowns. He had a QBR of 57.3 and a passer rating of 120.4.

The Vikings offensive line gave up two sacks but paved the way for another positive showing by Minnesota’s offense.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Week 13: Minnesota Vikings at Atlanta Falcons

The Vikings take on the Falcons this Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. The game is at noon (CST). The Vikings are 4-1 on the road this season, while the Falcons are 3-2 at home.

Both teams are hot, as the Vikings have won seven straight games and the Falcons have won four of the past five.

The Vikings, still blazing after a Thanksgiving win over the Detroit Lions, have the opportunity to add fuel to their playoff positioning while burning Atlanta’s in the process.

Last week, Atlanta’s offense finally ignited. The Falcons exploded for 516 total yards in their win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Julio Jones, the Dirty Birds’ leading pass catcher, scorched the Buccaneers secondary for over 250 receiving yards. The Falcons offense caught fire on third down, going 11 of 14 and improving its league-leading third-down conversion percentage.

In Sunday’s showdown, both teams face a heat check. Looking to douse Atlanta’s flame is an even hotter Minnesota squad.

The Vikings counter with a defense that is best in the NFL at smothering opposing offenses on third-down (28.5%). Through 11 games, the top-5 unit has at times been suffocating. This week, it will be tasked with perhaps its most difficult assignment of the season: extinguishing a prolific NFL offense in its home stadium.

The Vikings defense versus the Falcons offense; it’s a great matchup on paper. Let’s take a look at how the numbers stack up, five storylines to follow, matchup history, the injury reports for both teams, game implications, and a Borman Breakdown complete with a score prediction.

[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.

 

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In free agency, the Vikings have really only made moves on the offensive side of the football, other than their decision to dump Antoine Winfield.  This suggests to me, combined with Rick Spielman’s praise for the defensive talent in this class, that the Vikings plan to address their needs on defense early and often.

For the first time since the Percy Harvin trade, where the Vikings acquired a second first round selection from Seattle, I have updated my 2013 Mock Draft and you can take a look at it by clicking here.

I’ll leave the discussion portion up to you all, for now.  Just know this:  I was torn on both picks but decided to try and predict what the Vikings will do, not necessarily what I think they should do.

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