Trent McDuffie has been one of the stars of the Washington Huskies' defense for the last two seasons. He waited his turn and will be one of the next of a long line of UW defensive backs to enter the draft and be selected early on. McDuffie was excellent this past season even with the tough situation that unfolded around him. He was not frequently tested as teams realized they could attack the defense much easier on the ground, avoiding McDuffie and fellow star teammate Kyler Gordon.
Even in a very talented cornerback class, McDuffie has the tape that could allow him to ascend to an early selection next month. There will be some questions surrounding his outlook based on where he will project for certain coaching staffs and schemes but with his profile and path to the NFL, he should have no problem making an impact.
Trent McDuffie was extremely impressive in high school, starting three years for the prestigious St. John Bosco helping them to no less than 12 wins each season as a starter. He participated in the All-American bowl as a senior. McDuffie was a 4-star composite recruit and was rated as the 12th best cornerback in the country in the 2019 class.
McDuffie made his presence felt early on in his career at UW, playing in 13 games in 2019 and starting the last 11. He would go on to be a starter for the next two years and was a star of the Washington defense. He was named the team’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player at the postseason awards banquet in 2021.
Height: 5’10 3/4” (33rd Percentile)
Weight: 193 Pounds (52nd Percentile)
Arm Length: 29 3/4” (5th Percentile)
Wingspan: 72 3/8” (9th Percentile)
Hand Size: 8 3/4” (18th Percentile)
40-yard Dash: 4.44 Seconds (72nd Percentile)
20-yard Split: 2.56 Seconds
10-yard Split: 1.53 Seconds (39th Percentile)
Vertical Jump (Pro-Day): 38.5”
Each trait is graded on a 20-80 scale (very similar to how the MLB grades prospects) that Neptune Scouting’s Alex Katson and myself developed to better communicate player grades. More information about this new scale can be found here.
Man Coverage (65 - Star): McDuffie possesses excellent play speed. He makes transitions extremely well and has an effective backpedal and lateral shuffle that allows him to stay facing receivers for long periods of time. He shows no issues in pure man coverage and was tasked with covering many types of receivers throughout his career with no glaring missteps. Long speed is a concern that may limit him when faced with NFL-caliber receivers.
Instincts (75 - Elite): Will be one of the smartest players on the field, McDuffie is seemingly never in the wrong position and is continually one of the first players to the ball. He is extremely disciplined in coverage, always reading what is happening around him to best allow him to lock down his receiver. Anticipates and reacts to break quickly and efficiently in order to keep the ball from being thrown his way. He is extremely active as a run defender and really shows a complex understanding of how plays develop in front of him.
Zone Coverage (65 - Star): Just as effective in zone coverage as he is in man coverage, was asked to drop into deep zones with frequency in the Washington defense, mostly covering his third of the field, and looks extremely aware at all times. Is rarely pulled out of his zone and understands when he can leave to go make tackles or help funnel receivers to other defenders. McDuffie occasionally lets a player slip past him by getting sucked into what is happening in front of him but this is rare.
Ball Skills (N/A): This is a part of McDuffie’s game that is not easy to judge, teams were mostly afraid to go after him this season and last as they knew he could impact that game in a big way, often locking up his man anyways. There is no reason to believe that McDuffie can’t hold his own in his area due to his ball tracking and advanced technical skills. Lack of length and size will hurt his ability to make plays on the ball against bigger receivers but shows effective leaping ability to at least make up for some of this.
Tackling and Run Support (75 - Elite): Head and shoulders above most of his peers in this area. McDuffie is incredibly willing in run defense. He will trigger downhill very quickly in order to make tackles on running backs or receivers on screens or short passes. He is a strong and dependable tackler who wraps up well each and every play. There are really no concerns in this area and it will give a team the ability to play McDuffie basically anywhere on the field as well as in the slot.
Just watch Trent McDuffie on this play: pic.twitter.com/NNS4INMOH4— Ben Glassmire (@BenGlassmireNFL) September 3, 2021
Physicality (65 - Star): The willingness to be physical in press and throughout routes is an important part of McDuffie’s game, he has managed to overcome a lack of length and size by staying up in the face of the receivers he has to cover and rarely looks overmatched. He latches on early in press and can stay attached and limit progress well. McDuffie will need to show he can translate this success over to the pro game against stronger and more refined players.
Change of Direction (60 - Above Average): McDuffie does well to stay with his receiver. He is effective on most types of routes and does a good job when he needs to flip his hips or turn and run. Has good burst and an ability to get to his receivers quickly when and if they make a catch.
Long Speed (50 - Average): This is not McDuffie’s calling card, he may get beat over the top at times due to a lack of true deep speed but his refinement in footwork and efficiency will definitely help him make up for this. McDuffie was really not forced to play deep that often this past season but he was able to stick with his receiver by playing in trail well.
Recovery (60 - Above Average): Adept recovery speed, he can efficiently redirect himself if he is beat on the line and stay in front of his receiver or flip into trail technique if needed. His intelligence also shows up here as he knows when he is beat and does not often overpursue receivers at the beginning of a rep.
Frame (30 - Poor): This is likely the biggest concern for McDuffie even though it really doesn’t show up in a glaring manner on film. He has extremely short arms and a small wingspan that could lead to some coaches seeing him as a corner who should play most of his reps on the inside. He showed at Washington that he is much more than this and has worked extremely hard to overcome this deficiency, however, he may not check the threshold box for many teams.
Final Grade and Summary
Ceiling Grade: 8.5 (High-Level Starter)
McDuffie, despite some physical limitations, could be an impact starter for the team that drafts him as long as they are willing to be patient as he adjusts to the NFL speed and be fluid with his role if he is not able to thrive in his first situation. McDuffie could find his way into the slot early on in his career and could really turn that into his career as a high-level inside corner. He needs to continue to hone his skills on the outside and make sure his lack of length doesn't end up hurting him down the line. There should be confidence from the team that drafts him that he can easily slide into this role on the outside based on the dominance in his tape this past season.
Floor Grade: 8.0 (Average Starter)
McDuffie is one of the higher floor players in the class just due to how fantastic his tape was last season. There should really be little doubt that he can become a starter early on in his career due to his high-IQ play and ability to process what is going on in front of him very quickly. Coaches will appreciate that he is a high-level tackler whose motor is always running at its highest level.
Round Grade: 2nd Round
Summary: Even with the talent at cornerback that teams may select in front of McDuffie at the end of April he could stand out as a steal when we look back on this class in the coming years. There is a consistency and intelligence that stands out when you turn on McDuffie’s tape, these traits alone will make him worth a high selection for teams. For a contender, knowing they can draft someone who can come and in contribute right away rather than spending the next year and a half in and out of the lineup will be extremely valuable and will make Trent McDuffie an extremely attractive prospect.
Injury Risk/Character Concerns: An ankle injury caused him to miss one game this season but it is not a long-term concern.