Trent McDuffie has become a cornerstone of the Chiefs defense
Looking at some of the ways the 2nd-year cornerback is shining in Steve Spagnuolo's scheme with his coverage skills and versatility.
I tried to tell you.
This offseason, I looked at the rookie film of Chiefs cornerback Trent McDuffie, charting multiple games to see how the youngster (who had to battle back from an injury) fared in his first season. And it was hard for me to hold back my enthusiasm, noting that McDuffie may well have been Kansas City’s best cornerback even as a first-year player. Here was my summary from that piece.
McDuffie, as a rookie, battled it out with Sneed as the best cornerback on the roster last season. And as a pure coverage player, I think he’s already a bit better than Sneed, as his feet are a little quicker and his hips more flexible. He already plays the mental game at a high level and can execute Spags’ zone concepts with terrific consistency. He also shows more than enough athleticism and physicality to defend every route and limit YAC (or play strong against the run).
The only cautionary note that I made regarding McDuffie had more to do with the position he plays than the player himself. Cornerback is a notoriously unstable position, with performance varying year by year for most guys. Further, it’s a position that is prone for non-linear development as the league discovers your weaknesses. In other words, it’s REALLY hard to be good year in and year out at CB, let alone very good. And I didn’t want to put too heavy of expectations on McDuffie’s second year.
We’re now two games into his second year, and not only has McDuffie maintained his level of play, he’s enhanced it. And the entire defense is benefitting.
This snap has so many things you want to see in a corner. The calm feet while watching the QB execute the play fake and not moving out of position (and ignoring the receiver pretend to be a blocker). The immediate transition to pursuit as the route becomes apparent. The terrific closing speed and angle. The aggressive contesting of the ball. It’s a gorgeous rep.
And that rep is demonstrative of how well McDuffie played in virtually every situation he was thrown into on Sunday. And he was thrown into a LOT of situations as Steve Spagnuolo used him in a wide variety of ways. McDuffie’s ability to do a bunch of things at a very high level was weaponized by Spags Sunday against the Jaguars, and was part of what allowed them to throw a number of different looks on the back end at Trevor Lawrence.
The Chiefs have a young, talented secondary across the board, but McDuffie so far has been the chess piece that is pulling it all together into a group that looks like a problem for the rest of the league. Let’s talk about some of the ways McDuffie was used Sunday, how it helped stymie a good Jacksonville passing attack, and why he looks like he’s arrived (so far) this season as a legitimate star cornerback who can be the centerpiece of a system.
(Hey, look, it’s that button to subscribe for $12 a year! How’d that get there?)