Advance scouting: Desmond Trufant

Desmond Trufant has the versatility that Bill Belichick looks for. Steven Bisig/US Presswire

In advance of attending the NFL combine in Indianapolis later this month, ESPNBoston.com has identified 10 prospects it wants to learn more about. Along those lines, Steve Muench of Scouts Inc. is helping provide background and insight from his time studying tape and attending all-star games such as the Senior Bowl.

Player: Desmond Trufant

Position: Cornerback

Height/weight: 5-foot-11, 190 pounds

School: Washington

Why he's on the radar: If the Patriots don't re-sign Aqib Talib, and Devin McCourty remains at safety, the need for a cornerback becomes that much greater. Trufant has the type of versatility the Patriots seem to value.

Projection: Early rounds

Muench's take: "Trufant can line up over the slot or on the outside and his Southern Cal tape is a testament to his ability to match up with the best. Trojans WR Marqise Lee is one of the most talented receivers in the country and he had his least productive game of the season against the Huskies thanks in large part to Trufant. Trufant is fluid and he does an above-average job of reading receiver’s breaks. While not quite as explosive as Lee, his positioning and instincts made it tough for Lee to find room to work underneath. Trufant’s intangibles aren’t bad either. In addition being a four-year starter and 2012 team captain, his older brother Marcus was a first round pick in 2003 and started the first 94 games of his 10-year career with the Seahawks. Trufant also turns and runs well enough to stay with most receivers, but it doesn’t look like he has the extra gear to run with the Mike Wallaces of the world. Lee had some success getting behind him but Southern Cal just failed to take advantage. Finally, Trufant wasn’t a ball hawk in college and he doesn’t project as a playmaker at the next level. He has small hands (8.2) and shorter arms (30.5) for a corner prospect."