Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Evan Webeck, editor of The Husky Haul, stopped by to answer a few questions for us about Desmond Trufant, as Buccaneer fans take a closer look at the prospects available in this month’s NFL draft. Take a look at what he had to say.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today, Evan.
Being a player on a west coast team that wasn’t in the spotlight in 2012, not many Buccaneers’ fans have ever watched Desmond play football. Tell us a general breakdown of what his role was at Washington.
"For the last two years, Desmond has been the Huskies go-to, No. 1 corner. He’s a good all-around player without many flaws in his game. He was the only CB UW could truly count on, so despite having one of the best safety tandems in the country, Desmond rarely used their help, but rarely needed it."
What were some of his best moments over his career?
"One that really sticks out to me was against Stanford this past season. They were driving late, trying to take the lead and probably win the game when Josh Nunes made the mistake of throwing on Trufant and got picked off. If I remember right, they were around the Huskies 10 yard line and he attempted a fade that Trufant read instantly and made a beat on it. He had a better idea of where the ball was going than the receiver. That seemed to be a recurring trend in his career, really good reads and good jumps. Other than that, I remember him being a shutdown corner. He broke into the starting lineup his freshman year and never looked back. We knew we had something special from the beginning."
What are the traits and abilities that Desmond has that make him stand out? What areas are his weakest?
"The biggest strength he has is that he really doesn’t have a weakness. Nothing about his game pops out to you as dominant, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a legitimate flaw in his game. I know people had doubts about his speed at first, but from what I hear, he pretty much erased those with his combine workouts. He has a really great football mind. He’s the kind of corner that relies on his ability to get a read and jump the ball, rather than using incredible closing speed to swoop in on a pass. Sometimes I feel like he knows where the ball is going before the quarterback does."
The Buccaneers don’t have a completely concrete defensive personality, but there is certainly a desire from the coaching staff to use man coverage on the outside with little to no safety help. Has he ever served in this kind of role, and how do you believe he’d fit as a man-to-man corner on an island?
"This is what he normally played at UW. Washington wasn’t an exclusively man-to-man defense, but with the secondary they had, it was the most used scheme. Being the No. 1 corner, Sean Parker, Shaq Thompson and Wil Shamburger mostly helped out the No. 2 or No. 3 guys, who weren’t nearly as gifted as Trufant. Early in his career, he was the only solid secondary weapon the Huskies had and saved a lot of games by playing shutdown defense on his man."
Talk about Desmond’s run defending and tackling ability.
"If you had to assign him a weakness, this would probably be it. Because of his average to mediocre size, he doesn’t have the physical capabilities to make a lot of one-on-one tackles. He still has his bright spots though, with multiple games of 8+ tackles."
There is certainly a focus on high character players in recent Tampa Bay drafts. Tell us about what you know of Desmond Trufant as a leader and as a person on and off the field.
"Desmond shines off the field. He is an incredible player and an even better human being. He is nice, personable and puts a good image on the franchise. Any GM should be honored to spend their 1st round pick on a person like Desmond."
Is there anything else we should know about him?
"He has had experience in two different systems: three years under Nick Holt and one under Justin Wilcox. While he did well under Holt, he thrived with Wilcox at the helm. Of course, he is the younger brother of Marcus, but it seems to be the consensus that he’ll exceed what Marcus did in the NFL. I’ve had the privilege of watching him grow into the player he is now and it has been a pleasure. From day 1, we knew we had something special on our hands, but he even exceeded those expectations. He’s a hard worker that earned his dues."
If you were an NFL GM, would you think Desmond was worth the 13th pick in the draft?
"I have a hard time thinking that I would. As great of a player as Desmond is, he doesn’t have that “star” aspect of his game. I think he will be a very good corner in the NFL, but his value is probably more in the 20-25 range. If you’re desperate for a CB and can’t trade back, picking Desmond Trufant 13th is far from the worst move you can make."
Be sure to stay tuned to The Pewter Plank for lots more on the NFL Draft in the coming weeks, as we inch closer and closer to the annual selection meeting kicking off on April 25th.