Eagles Prospect Profile: Trent McDuffie

The Philadelphia Eagles pass defense took a major step forward last season. They finished 11th in total passing defense, while allowing 28 passing touchdowns and recording 12 interceptions. While those numbers are improvements over prior seasons, there’s still a ton of room for growth in the Eagles secondary.

As it stands right now, the Eagles don’t have a suitable CB2 to play opposite of Darius Slay. Last year’s fourth-round pick Zech McPhearson or mid-season acquisition Tay Gowan could potentially step up to fill that role, but both are unknowns at this point in their young careers.

The Eagles haven’t drafted a corner in the first-round since Lito Shepard all the way back in 2002. Could Howie Roseman buck that trend this year? It all depends on how the board falls.

It’s pretty clear that both Sauce Gardner and Derek Stingley will be long gone by the time the Eagles are on the clock at 15. As for the consensus No. 3 corner, Trent McDuffie, the jury’s still out on where he may land.

Let’s take a look at his strengths and weaknesses and assess how he would fit in Jonathan Gannon’s defense.

The Strengths

McDuffie is without a doubt the most physical corner in this year’s draft class and he’s arguably the most versatile. You can’t coach the type of physical aggressiveness McDuffie plays with, and that also plays into why he’s such a versatile chess piece for a defense.

His size, 5-foot-11, 193 pounds, would suggest McDuffie may be best suited in the nickel, but he’s always played bigger than his size. Bigger receivers don’t pose as much of a threat to McDuffie as they typically do with smaller corners. Due to his aggressive nature, McDuffie could theoretically line up at outside corner, in the nickel, or even at safety. He spent time at all three positions at Washington and his high level of play remained consistent.

McDuffie’s strengths in coverage really shine through when he’s in zone. He has smooth, natural hips along with quick feet. He understands where his help is and he utilizes it to his advantage when on the outside. At the point of attack, McDuffie again shows a lot of physicality. He allowed a completion percentage of 44.4% along with a passer rating of 52 when targeted in 2021.

McDuffie has demonstrated that he can also hold his own in man coverage throughout his collegiate career, especially in the quick to intermediate passing game. He plays with tremendous short-area quickness and agility, making it difficult for quarterbacks to squeeze the ball to McDuffie’s receiver.

The Weaknesses

Though McDuffie plays with great physicality for the cornerback position, his ball skills are a bit lacking. They’re not nearly as polished as either Gardner’s or Stingley’s, which is the main reason why he’s rarely considered ahead of them in mock drafts.

In 2021, McDuffie finished the year with just six forced incompletions, which was tied for 189th in the nation. During his entire Washington career, McDuffie only recorded two total interceptions in three years. He certainly has all the physical tools to heighten his production, but it never manifested itself during his time at Washington.

McDuffie’s length could also turn some teams off, and some will categorize him as a natural slot corner with outside versatility. His 73 3/8-inch wingspan placed in the 9th percentile among corners entering this year’s draft, and his 29 3/4-inch arm length placed in 5th percentile.

This lacking length probably played a role in McDuffie’s lacking ball production and it’s a limitation he’s going to need to overcome in order to reach his full potential at the next level.

The Verdict

McDuffie does have some real limitations in terms of length and size, but he’s considered a consensus first-round pick for a reason. His coverage skills are outstanding; he’s a pure shutdown corner in every sense of the word. 2021 wasn’t just a flash in the pan either, McDuffie has been shutting down No. 1 receivers his entire collegiate career.

McDuffie’s comfortability in zone coverage should be appealing to Gannon. The Eagles ran a lot of zone coverage in 2021 and McDuffie would fit right into that scheme. His inside-outside versatility is the cherry on top.

The Eagles simply don’t spend first-round picks on corners, but if McDuffie falls into their range, it may be time to finally change that. Darius Slay and Avonte Maddox are solid in their own right, but the team doesn’t have any real long-term solutions for when Slay is gone. McDuffie can finally provide the Eagles with a long-term solution at the position. Something Eagles fans have been clamoring for for the past decade.

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