The Atlanta Falcons pulled off another significant deal in the opening round of the NFL draft, moving up to land Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant on Thursday.
The Falcons worked a trade with St. Louis to acquire the 22nd overall pick. Atlanta swapped the 30th selection and gave up its third- and six-round picks, while acquiring a future seventh-round pick from the Rams.
"This was our targeted pick," general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. "This is who we focused on all throughout the offseason."
The 6-foot, 190-pound Trufant, who timed at 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash during the combine, fills a major need for the Falcons. The team lost three cornerbacks during the offseason as Dunta Robinson was cut in a cost-cutting move, while Brent Grimes and Christopher Owens signed with other teams in free agency.
There were only four cornerbacks on the roster — one of them a practice-squad player — before Atlanta selected Trufant.
"He's a guy who just seems to find the football," coach Mike Smith said, who expects the newcomer to compete right away for a starting job.
Trufant follows two older brothers into the league. Marcus has been a starting cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks since being picked in the first round a decade ago, while Isaiah worked his way through two lower-level leagues before getting a chance to play corner with the New York Jets the past two seasons.
"They're here with me watching the draft," Desmond said on a conference call late Thursday. "Now, I'm going to try to make a name, make an impact in the league. I'm ready to come in and work hard from day one."
Dimitroff has become known for his bold moves on draft day, most notably landing Pro Bowl receiver Julio Jones in a blockbuster trade with Cleveland in 2011. The deal with the Rams had been in the works for a few days, as Dimitroff took advantage of his relationship with St. Louis GM Les Snead, who used to work in the Falcons' personnel department.
"There were a lot of discussions up and down," Dimitroff said. "Everything worked out really well. We were able to secure a trade with our old friend, Les Snead. We walked away with someone we feel will be a nice addition to our team."
In an interesting twist, the Rams used the 30th pick to land Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree.
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