Jan 26, 2013; Mobile, AL, USA; Senior Bowl south squad defensive back Robert Alford of Southeastern La. (23) prior to kickoff of a game against the Senior Bowl north squad at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

2013 NFL Draft: Robert Alford Prospect Profile


Robert Alford a redshirt senior out of Souteastern Louisiana, will be one of the great stories to watch for this NFL Draft season. Alford plays cornerback and returner for the Lions, and does so very well. Despite playing in a FCS football conference, he was still making buzz in his last two seasons. He helped his team claim the River Bell (a trophy awarded to the SE Louisiana – Nicolls St. rivalry), in addition to sweeping all in-state rivals in his senior season. The heights of his story did not end there. Alford was invited to participate in the Senior Bowl, and there he proved that his talent and skills are on par with NCAA  Division 1 football talents. He was the talk of theSouth team, showing good techniques and football smarts.

Measurables:
5″10, 188 lbs.

Strengths:
Robert Alford is one of the few complete cornerbacks coming out of the collegiate level. On game tapes, he shows his versatility playing man-to-man, zone coverage, blitz, run-support and slot corner. Alford does not mind getting physical, and will try to bump thewidereceiveroff his route. Furthermore, he has quick recognition who the open receiver will be when playing zone cover, and is disciplined enough to stay within his assignment. It is uncommon for receivers to separate consistently against this cornerback. Alford can mirror his opponent very well, and has good backward pedaling speed; only turning at the very last moment if he is sure that his opponent is trying to run pass by him. Likewise, he also has great speed running forward as run-support or blitzing. Alford show cased his speed at the Senior Bowl, when he returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. His experience playing in the special teams will be highly sought after by teams, making him an instant contributor. His best feature is his ability to trackdown balls and intercept them. Alford can be somewhat of a ball hawk with good reliable hands. He can also jump very high to deflect passes.

At the Scouting Combine, Robert Alford dominated the measurable drills as well as the position specific skills. He showed fluid hip, and ability to change direction with minimum effort.

Weaknesses:
Robert Alford has a very small stature and is short relative to professional football players. He does cannot hope to outplay a taller receiver in air battles, at the NFL level. Furthermore, he gets overpowered by taller and stronger widereceivers, despite his willingness to get physical. Alford was consistently thrown aside by the Missouri widereceiver, and that calls into question whether he can play against better talents. His other area of concern is his decision making as a returner. Alford has shown poor judgement when catching a punt or kickoff. He will always try to catch the ball, even when he is out of position, and that can sometimes lead to unncessary turnovers. Lastly, Alford was rumored to b diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. To what extent it has on his onfield performance remains to be seen. However, teams would rather take a player with fewer health questionmarks

Projection:
Robert Alford can be very exciting to watch on Sundays with his ability as both adefensive back and in the return game. He can dominate the highlight reel with his exciting plays. His performance at the Scouting Combine solidified his draft stock with a strong performance in most of the drills he participated in. Alford can play in any type of scheme, and would serve well to start off as a slot cornerback, with the chance to move to defending at the wide out spot.  Nevertheless, teams may find that his size to be concerning as well as any possible health issues. His projected draft position will be somewhere in the second round.

Grade: 7.8

 

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