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NFL Draft

Trent McDuffie Should Continue Washington’s DB Run In NFL Draft

  • The Draft Network
  • June 29, 2021
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Who is the real DBU? It's a debate as old as time and one that I love to see get going year in and year out. There are many deserving schools and you’ll normally hear bluebloods such as LSU, Ohio State, and Florida tossed around as DBU. While all of those schools are extremely deserving of the title, there is another that also belongs in that tier given recent history and success. 

The University of Washington has quietly produced an abundance of talent in the defensive backfield. If we go back to 2013, Desmond Trufant heard his name called in the first round, going 22nd overall to the Atlanta Falcons. Trufant has had a successful NFL career and was one of the better corners in the league early in his time with Atlanta. In 2015, Marcus Peters went 18th overall to the Kansas City Chiefs where he quickly became one of the best corners in the NFL. A ball magnet, Peters routinely made plays on the football and is one of the best playmaking corners the league has seen in quite some time—even if he does take his fair share of unnecessary risks. 

The 2017 NFL Draft was big for the Huskies' case for DBU, as the school had three defensive backs drafted within the first 43 picks. Corner Kevin King went 33rd overall to the Green Bay Packers and developed into a solid No. 2 corner. Safety Budda Baker went 36th overall to the Arizona Cardinals and quickly became one of the best safeties in the league and earned a huge contract extension. Sidney Jones, who was the best prospect out of the bunch, went 43rd overall to the Philadelphia Eagles and only fell because of a torn Achilles he suffered during his Pro Day. 

In 2019, the Huskies had two defensive backs drafted in corner Byron Murphy and safety Taylor Rapp, both going in the second round to the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams respectively. Both players have developed into fine starters for their clubs and could ascend in year three. Lastly, in 2021, the Huskies saw their run of defensive backs continue with corner Elijah Molden going to the Tennessee Titans in the third round and corner Keith Taylor going to the Panthers in the fifth round. 

Washington’s run on producing defensive backs has been truly remarkable, and it isn’t going to stop in 2022. Junior corner Trent McDuffie is next in line to be the next highly-drafted Washington defensive back, and after studying him this summer, he may be as talented as any of his predecessors.

McDuffie, a true junior, enrolled with the Huskies in 2019 and was an immediate contributor. He went on to play in all 13 games and started the last 11 games while earning an honorable mention for Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. McDuffie really blossomed as a sophomore in 2020 where he was named to the All-Pac 12 second team. With Molden and Taylor both now in the NFL, McDuffie will be the veteran in the secondary and the player the defensive unit will rally around.

As a prospect, McDuffie is an instinctive cover man with above-average size and outstanding athleticism. He is smooth and fluid with his pedal and is extremely quick in transitions. He primarily plays off-man but has outstanding instincts and awareness in zone coverage. He can read route combinations and possesses the short-area quickness to make plays on the football.

McDuffie is a loose athlete, showing the ability to flip his hips and run downfield defending vertical. He has good straight-line speed to carry vertical, but there are times receivers can create separation with speed down the field. McDuffie is outstanding when the ball is in the air and has a knack for capitalizing on the big play.  He is extremely difficult to shake underneath and flashes outstanding change of direction and quickness in mirroring receivers through cuts. McDuffie does give up size and strength and will lose battles at the catch point due to sheer lack of size and length. However, his competitive toughness and confidence shine in those situations and he is not one to ever back down from a challenge.

The thing I appreciate most about McDuffie’s game is the confidence he plays with. The biggest tell of a good defensive back is when they are patient in their pedal and never look panicked. That is McDuffie to a T, and he plays with a relaxed tempo and never appears to be panicked or out of position. He is patient at the line of scrimmage and has outstanding eyes to read the receiver’s movements. Even though he doesn’t have top-end size and strength, he is also one of the best tackling corners in the country. He has good eyes and will quickly trigger downhill and make the tackle in space.

This upcoming corner class is already shaping up to be one of the most talented groups we have seen in years. Headlined by the likes of Derek Stingley Jr., Andrew Booth, and Ahmad Gardner, this class could see more first-round picks than last year’s class, which had five corners go in round one. While McDuffie doesn’t have the size, length, and straight-line speed of Jaycee Horn or Patrick Surtain II, his instincts, cover quickness, and ball skills will give him a very strong chance to hear his name called early in next year’s draft and keep on the legacy for Washington defensive backs. 

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