Key Chiefs Rookie ‘Settling in’ After Early Camp Struggles: Report

Trent McDuffie

Getty Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Trent McDuffie at the 2022 NFL combine.

As Kansas City Chiefs training camp has picked up, different first-year prospects have traded the spotlight — from George Karlaftis to Skyy Moore and Isiah Pacheco among others.

Surprisingly though, one of the quieter rookie names has been cornerback Trent McDuffie, who was KC’s initial selection in 2022. Not only that, general manager Brett Veach moved up to get him, drawing criticism after the draft.

Needless to say, the Chiefs have high expectations for McDuffie. There’s also a need at cornerback after the departure of Charvarius Ward in free agency. And yet, the Washington product has sometimes been outshined by other youngsters like Joshua Williams this summer — but that appears to be changing.

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McDuffie Is Racking up Pass Breakups

Arrowhead Pride’s Pete Sweeney reported on the recent progress from the first-rounder on August 7: “After some early-camp struggles, CB Trent McDuffie appears to be settling in a bit, in my view. DC Steve Spagnuolo alluded to that during press the other day. The first-rounder had a [pass breakup] during seven-on-seven work on Sunday.”

The practice before, Arrowhead Pride’s lead film analyst Ron Kopp Jr. detailed this development further.

“Rookie cornerback Trent McDuffie got his hands on two passes, causing incompletions in team period,” Kopp wrote. “The first was in trailing coverage on a deep, sideline pattern to wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster; McDuffie’s technique put him in a perfect spot to disallow any pass from getting through. On a later play, McDuffie used active hands to rip away a potential catch by wide receiver Mecole Hardman on a jump ball deep downfield.”

Here’s video of the Smith-Schuster deflection, courtesy of KC Sports Network.

KC Sports Network also shared the Hardman pass defense, which was a late save from the rookie cornerback.

McDuffie even had one against Marquez Valdes-Scantling playing down in the slot.

Go back a couple of practices further and the 21st overall pick “hauled in an interception.”

At that point, Spagnuolo voiced some encouragement toward him: “I think he’s done an outstanding job. I think that he’s competed really well against our veteran wideouts, and when it hasn’t gone great for him, he doesn’t stick his head in the sand. He bounces right back up, and that’s a good quality.”

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McDuffie Has Moved Around the Defense

It will be interesting to see where McDuffie lines up in Week 1. With Rashad Fenton sidelined, the exact starting rotation has been unclear and Spagnuolo is doing his best to get everyone reps in different roles.

L’Jarius Sneed, Williams, Jaylen Watson and Nazeeh Johnson have all taken turns on the outside, as well as the slot. That versatility is good to have and McDuffie flaunts it as a definite strength.

Whatever happens, this depth should be looked at as a good problem for KC. In most practices, this group has held their own against Patrick Mahomes and a strong wide receiver corps. The secondary is not only talented, but it’s also young, and the hope is that this group can grow into a really tight unit long-term.

At this stage, the expectation is still that the first-rounder will start alongside Sneed and Fenton — if healthy. Where he lines up could vary depending on the opponent.


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