Falcons pounce on Alford

It is all about timing, particularly for a cornerback in the NFL.
But on this draft night, it was more about the timing of the situation rather than reading a quarterback’s eyes.
Announcing the 60th pick in the NFL Draft for the Atlanta Falcons was Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, who started his NFL career playing cornerback for the Dirty Birds. It was he who called Robert Alford’s name, making him the second highest Lion ever drafted.
One of the greatest, if not the greatest, cornerbacks ever to play football called Alford’s name. Remember, timing is everything.
“It’s been a dream of mine since the age of 12,” said Alford. “And Deion [Sanders] announcing my name, that was big. I grew up looking up to Deion–he was the best–and that was really big to me.”
And more so, Alford’s situation could not be rosier. He now joins first-round selection Desmond Trufant in what could become a defensive backfield duo for years to come. And both have the ability to learn from veteran cornerback Asante Samuel.
Having a strong offense, with quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones among others, and now the experience of a deep playoff run places the Southeastern rookie in a prime location.
“Very, very athletic individual, very fast,” said Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff after the second day of the draft. “He’ll probably be one of, if not the fastest guy, on our football team. He also has the ability to return. He is a versatile guy who can play outside and inside. And again, knowing where we were with our secondary, as much as we have other needs on our team, we thought it was in the best interest of the team, not only today, but in year’s to come here that we continue to fortify this secondary.”
The Falcons suffered numerous losses to their defensive backfield. Dimitroff stressed the importance of securing the secondary, as they will continue to face the likes of Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Josh Freeman and other pass heavy offenses throughout the league.
Alford on the other hand, cannot wait for his opportunity to play with the Falcons and learn their defensive schemes, jumping in as soon as possible to help his new team.
“My next step is the Atlanta Falcons,” said Alford. “Get in there, learn the playbook, become a starter and help the Falcons to a Superbowl.”
During the Lions 2012 season, Alford had eight pass breakups and four interceptions. He also recorded 39 total tackles with five for a loss of yards.
In the 2013 Senior Bowl, Alford made key plays for the South team to set him apart from the others, picking off the North’s Zac Dysert and returning a kickoff that gave the South great field position.
He was also named the FCS National Defensive Player of the Year by the College Sports Journal, a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award and an All-American by the AP and Sports Network.
With all of the accolades, Alford has proven that if you are good, then it does not matter what college you attend or where you are from. Born and raised in Hammond, playing for Hammond High School and the hometown university, Alford can tell others that with hard work and dedication, you can achieve any goal that you set, including being drafted by the NFL.
“Keep your head up,” said Alford. “You have a lot of people out there that’s trying to doubt you, but continue on and pursue your dreams. Don’t let anything put you down or let anything hold you back from your dreams.”
Alford has kept his family close during this process. His older brother, Fred Booker, played professionally for the New Orleans Saints.
“He has been working really hard,” said Alford’s mother Gloria Bridgewater. “There were days Robert would go out, it would be hot and work out or cold and work out, but he’s dedicated, and I think he’s going to do great.”
The effort put into his career as a Lion and during all of the pre-draft workouts has paid off. Alford’s mother is relieved that he has been drafted and can now focus on his new job as a cornerback for the Falcons.
“I can breathe now,” said Bridgewater. “I’m so excited because now we’re going to have so much fun. Everybody in the family is for the Saints, but we’re going to cheer against them with the Dirty Birds now.”
The new Atlanta Falcon will not forget his beginnings, however. Alford will take his Lion pride into the NFL as he pursues his next quest of becoming a Super Bowl champion.
“It’s real big for me to represent Lion Nation,” said Alford. “We have more people that’s out there that are going to make it professionally. I’m going to support the Lion Nation and make them very proud.”
In the end, timing is everything, and it seems that timing is on Alford’s side.