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NFL Draft

Isaiah McDuffie: 2021 NFL Draft Prospect Interview Series

  • The Draft Network
  • April 14, 2021
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Today’s NFL puts a premium on speed, athleticism, and versatility, which is why former Boston College linebacker Isaiah McDuffie will be a hot commodity on draft weekend.

While some might label him “undersized,” McDuffie’s explosiveness, range, and instincts make him a prototype for the next generation of linebacker prospects.

McDuffie spoke exclusively with The Draft Network about his versatility, which areas of his game he’s working on, and what kind of impact he’ll make at the next level.

JM: You played linebacker and running back in high school. You would eventually become a linebacker on a full-time basis. How did your experiences on the offensive side of the ball make you a better defensive player?

IM: It definitely helped me anticipate things better. I know what a running back is feeling. I know how they think and operate. I know what they look for. I have the same vision they do. I understand how to make cuts. I have a great feel for where they want to take the ball. It definitely made me a better linebacker.

JM: That makes sense to me. After high school, you got to Boston College and you were playing the safety position early on. The positions are somewhat interchangeable nowadays. What was that experience like?

IM: It was more a hybrid position for our defense. I wouldn’t come out and call it “safety” outright. A lot of the snaps came outside the box, though. It took me outside the front seven. I can see why some would say it was like playing safety. It helped me become more versatile. 

Playing outside the traditional spots a linebacker would play gave me a better feel for defensive play in general. It made me versatile. I played more man coverage on tight ends. I even covered some receivers on occasion. I learned some man coverage techniques. It was a useful experience.

JM: When I turn the tape on, I see an athletic player that plays the game with terrific urgency.

IM: I’m a passionate football player. That’s the honest truth. I’m always trying to find the ball. I play with great effort in pursuit. I pride myself on getting to the ball. When I turn the tape on and watch myself, I need to see that great hustle. I respect myself because I know I give it my all out there. It shows on tape. I live around the ball. I make plays for my team. That’s how I carry myself. I wanna be proud of the things I put on tape.

JM: I love that. What are some areas of your game that you’re still looking to improve?

IM: I need to improve every area of my game. I’m a coachable guy. I love learning. I wanna become a great player. At the end of the day, you could always do something better. It doesn’t matter how good you are. I’m always open to learning new techniques. 

JM: You’ve played both inside and outside the box as you said. Do you have a preference?

IM: I wouldn’t say so. I feel like I can do both. I feel most natural when playing the WILL linebacker position. That’s where I see myself playing in the NFL. I will say that. At the end of the day, I feel comfortable doing anything a team asks of me.

JM: You’ve spent the last few weeks meeting with NFL teams virtually. How is that process going for you, and which teams have you met with so far?

IM: The process is going well. It’s definitely different. We’re learning on Zoom. We’re going over plays and talking football virtually. My interviews have gone well. We’re all going through the same process right now. I’ve met with the Patriots, Bills, Titans, Bengals, Jaguars, Saints, Chiefs, Ravens, Vikings, Broncos, Texans, and Seahawks. A ton of teams have reached out to me. These calls have ranged from position [or linebacker] coaches to head scouts all the way up to the general manager. It’s been a great process.

JM: Wow. There’s a lot of interest in you and it’s easy to see why. You’re an athletic prospect whose best days are ahead of him. I’ve really appreciated your time today. In closing, when a team uses a draft pick on Isaiah McDuffie, what kind of guy are they getting?

IM: They’re getting a guy with an incredible work ethic. I’m gonna come in every day and work as hard as I can. I’m a team-first kind of guy. Always have been, always will be. I can’t wait to find out where I’m going.

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