Kansas City Chiefs select Washington CB Trent McDuffie with the 21st pick. Grade: A

Kansas City Chiefs select Washington CB Trent McDuffie with the 21st pick. Grade: A

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With the 21st pick in the 2022 NFL draft, the Kansas City Chiefs select Washington CB Trent McDuffie.

GRADE: A.

The Chiefs have needs at receiver after the Tyreek Hill trade, but instead trade up with the Patriots (who have a real need at cornerback) for Trent McDuffie, the best CB in this draft not named Sauce Gardner or Derek Stingley Jr. McDuffie is an aggressive man cornerback with great range who will fit perfectly in Steve Spagnuolo’s defense.

Mark Schofield’s scouting report:

Height: 5’11” (52nd) Weight: 193 (57th)
40-Yard Dash: 4.44 seconds (66th)
Bench Press: N/A
Vertical Jump: N/A
Broad Jump: N/A
3-Cone Drill: N/A
20-Yard Shuttle: N/A

Bio: Trent McDuffie earned three varsity letters for St. John Bosco High School in California, helping his team earn a spot in the championship game of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs. He was graded as a four-star recruit by 247Sports, and the 12-best cornerback in the 2019 recruiting class.

McDuffie chose to play his college football at Washington, turning down offers from schools such as Oregon State, UCLA and Alabama. He stepped right into the lineup as a true freshman for the Huskies, playing in all 13 games and making 11 starts during the 2019 season. He started all four of Washington’s game in 2020, recording 14 tackles and an interception.

This past season saw McDuffie earn Third-Team All-American honors, as he recorded 35 tackles — including four for a loss — and his only collegiate sack.

Stat to Know: According to data from Pro Football Focus, McDuffie has been a shutdown corner since setting foot on campus. He allowed just 339 yards on 439 coverage snaps as a true freshman, and followed that up with just 111 yards on 296 coverage snaps this past season.

Strengths: If you like Andrew Booth Jr., you might love McDuffie. The Washington cornerback played a similar number of zone snaps, but with perhaps better execution, particularly at the strike point. Over his career. PFF charted McDuffie with a missed tackle rate of just 6.9%, which is an impressive number. Plays like this are the reason why:

McDuffie is the boundary cornerback, and employs press-bail technique on this play against Washington State. He drops under the out-breaking route from the inside receiver in this Flat-Seven Smash concept, and rallies downhill to make a sure tackle, after the first defender misses in space.

Where I started to lose my mind watching him was seeing him defender crossers, starting from an off alignment and working over the top of traffic in the box. On this play against Colorado, the offense faces a 3rd and 4 in a game with the score knotted at ten in the third quarter. Watch as McDuffie holds a two-yard throw to a two-yard gain, thanks to his closing speed and the ability to work over the top of the traffic inside:

Even better was this snap against Arizona, where McDuffie actually makes a tackle for a loss on this play:

Press-man coverage is a bit more of a question mark with McDuffie than, say, Derek Stingley Jr. or Sauce Gardner, but the potential is there. On this play against Colorado, McDuffie matches the vertical route well, getting to the hip of the receiver and closing down the throwing lane:

Whether McDuffie can build upon this foundation in the NFL is perhaps the bigger question.

Weaknesses: The main weakness with McDuffie might be his size. He comes in under six-feet tall, and the lack of length adds to concerns about his frame. McDuffie’s arms measured in at 29.75 inches, putting him in the seventh percentile of cornerbacks. That lack of size might have contributed to the lack of production during his college career, as McDuffie posted just two interceptions while in college. Pro Football Focus also charted him with just nine pass breakups on 100 targets during his time at Washington.

Will his size make him a pure slot cornerback at the next level? Washington used him almost exclusively on the outside, as he played 593 snaps on the boundary last season, in contrast with just 12 on the inside, but if he if viewed as a slot cornerback by teams, that might hurt his draft stock.

Then there is the technique in man coverage, and particularly in press-man coverage. His experience in zone has provided him with solid technique in those coverage, but press technique is still a work in progress. If you watch that game against Washington State, he seemed to struggle against bigger receivers when asked to use press technique. On this play, he is late to the punch, and lets the receiver get inside leverage on the slant route:

If he is going to play in a press-heavy scheme, he’ll need to refine the technique on the boundary.

Conclusion: McDuffie can slide into zone-heavy systems and play on Day One, even on the boundary despite his lack of size and length. He can also play in a few different roles at the next level, as Washington did use him in the slot and even as a deep safety at times. Teams that rely more on man coverage, however, might want more experience and refined technique from a player in the first round.

Comparison: Drae Harris went with Byron Murphy as his comparison in his profile of McDuffie for The Draft Network, and that fits for a number of reasons.

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