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The Next Franchise Corner: Trent McDuffie

Jimmy Murphy / April 25th, 2022 /

The Time is Now

Since the departure of former Pro-Bowler and All-Pro corner Xavier Rhodes, there has been a recurring hole within the Minnesota Vikings cornerback room. While the team’s front 7 has produced All-Pros with the likes of Erik Kendricks along with the back half of the secondary producing All-Pros in Harrison Smith, the accolades and serviceable on-the-field play have not extended to the cornerback room. With the team being poised for a bounce-back season under a fresh regime, there is no better way to kick off the 2022 comeback tour than by addressing one of the defense’s biggest holes in a draft deep with corners.

With the team unlikely to make a push into striking distance for the likes of Cincy’s Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner or LSU’s 

Derek Stingley Jr, this would manifest in the team selecting University of Washington product Trent Mcduffie with either the 12th pick or later in the evening if they elect to trade back. To be clear, CB Trent Mcduffie is not a pick that the team is “settling” for. As stated previously, this draft is rich with corners, and Mcduffie being the arguable CB3 in this year’s draft is just a result of the board’s depth. So who is Trent Mcduffie and how does the UW product fit into the team's new 3-4 scheme for this upcoming season?

UW Star

As a highly touted recruit coming out of St John Bosco High School, Mcduffie immediately made a substantial impact upon arriving to the Washington Huskies. As a true freshman, Mcduffie was named as an honorable mention for the Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year. As a sophomore, he was named All-Pac 12 second team. And as a junior, he was named All-Pac-12 first team and AP 3rd Team All-American following a shutdown 2021 campaign. Standing at 5’11 and 195 pounds, Mcduffie possesses the speed, physical tools, and fearless competitive edge to be able to arrive as an immediate contributor to the Ed Donatell defense. 

The Perfect Fit

During the 2021 season, the Denver Broncos (Ed Donatell’s former team) bolstered the league’s 3rd best total defense and 8th best pass defense in the explosive AFC West. In the absence of an elite pass rush, a large portion of the credit can be attributed to the Denver secondary’s ability to keep receivers blanketed and disguise coverages in spite of the absence of an elite pressure rate from the Denver front 7. In the Donatell 3-4 scheme, it will be expected that there will be a large amount of carry-over from the Denver scheme. This scheme emphasizes a high frequency of base-down Cover 3 and 3rd down Cover 1 with front 7 pressure. This lower frequency of man coverage on base-downs will give Mcduffie the ability to be able to lurk in the flats or deep thirds for the chance to jump quick and medium routes and will also allow him to use his aggressive downhill playstyle to step up and be a force from the secondary in run support. Most importantly, however, it will allow Mcduffie to build up confidence and will limit the positions for him to be put in that would increase the likelihood of common young corner mistakes occurring. The instances in which Mcduffie will be schemed to play man will be in conjunction with heavy blitzes by the Vikings' front 7. The prolific duo of Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith getting after the QB along with McDuffie's route-hugging man coverage skills will result in a fair amount of inaccurate throws and poor decisions that the young ball-hawking Mcduffie will be able to capitalize on. 

Final Verdict

With the Ed Donatell scheme allowing Mcduffie the combination to be able to play with autonomy within his zones and be able to rack up tackles in run support on base downs, while also providing lockdown man coverage in conjunction with the Viking's talented front 7 on Cover 1 blitzes on 3rd down, there is no reason to think that picking a shutdown corner coming from a pass-happy college conference is “settling” for a pick. Mcduffie’s ruthless competitiveness, speed, and twitch combined with his blanket coverage skills will make for the perfect pick for the Vikings, regardless of where they do it.