Chiefs CB Trent McDuffie Hints at New Role as 2 Prospects Emerge

Chiefs cornerback Trent McDuffie hinted at a new role in 2024.

Getty Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Trent McDuffie spoke about his new role in 2024.

The Kansas City Chiefs secondary will have to readjust in 2024 after trading away star cornerback L’Jarius Sneed this spring. And 2023 All-Pro Trent McDuffie addressed his new role in the defense on May 22.

“I’m comfortable outside,” McDuffie told reporters at Organized Team Activities after primarily lining up on an island rather than in the slot throughout the Wednesday practice. “I told that to [defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo] and even last year I was outside.”

Of course, the “corner” position is not foreign to the former first rounder despite his nickelback role in 2023. McDuffie lined up on the outside 464 times as a rookie according to Pro Football Focus, and he played plenty of corner in college as well.

Having said that, McDuffie was utilized in the slot 448 snaps last year — plus 158 snaps lined up inside the “box” near the line of scrimmage and another 68 alongside the defensive line. Comparatively, Spagnuolo only put him at corner 300 times a season ago.

The main reason for that was Sneed’s transition from nickel/Swiss army knife to shutdown cornerback in 2023.

“I feel like last year for me, going in at nickel was more of the new thing for me,” McDuffie added on May 22. He also highlighted second-year prospects Chamarri Conner and Nic Jones as two players that have stepped up in his place.

“I think they’re doing a great job,” McDuffie noted regarding his successors in the slot. “[They’ve] come in here and really held down that nickel spot… they’re constantly asking me questions in the film room.”

The 23-year-old veteran concluded that Conner and Jones are “coming along great,” adding that he’ll help wherever he can with tips and tidbits.

2023 Draft Picks Chamarri Conner & Nic Jones Competing for Chiefs’ Nickel Role?

Based on McDuffie’s comments, it appears Conner and Jones are competing for the nickel role after entering the NFL as part of the same draft class last April.

Conner, a fourth-round selection with 305 defensive snaps as a rookie, likely has the leg up on Jones and any other challengers though.

PFF credited Conner with a 70.2 grade out of 100 in coverage in 2023 — which is a very strong mark for a rookie. He allowed 15 out his 18 targets to be caught but held opposing receivers to just 9.1 yards per reception with no touchdowns against and one interception.

His NFL passer rating allowed was a 75.2 according to PFF.

If Conner struggled in one area during his inaugural season, it was as a tackler. The former Virginia Tech DB had a high missed tackle rate of 18.2% in 2023, with eight key defensive stops compared to six missed tackles.

That number must improve, although Conner did excel in run defense (75.5 grade) despite his tackling woes.

As for Jones, the seventh-round cornerback practically redshirted his rookie year from a defensive standpoint after a promising spring and summer learning the system. His only snaps on defense came in Week 18 — with most starters sitting.

Jones allowed five of six targets in coverage during that one appearance, holding the opposition to 10.6 yards per reception and a passer rating of 103.5. He also logged 110 snaps on special teams as a rookie.

Chiefs’ Trent McDuffie Knows He Must Embrace Leadership Role After L’Jarius Sneed Trade

Speaking of new roles, McDuffie discussed another area he must embrace without Sneed on the roster.

“We all love LJ, disappointed to see him go, also excited for his new journey but for us I think it just allows new guys to step up and take on a bigger role,” the first-round talent stated on Wednesday afternoon. Adding: “Guys like me, I gotta step up, become more of a leader.”

McDuffie also encouraged rookies and second-year players to come into camp and “make a name for themselves.”

“I feel like that’s really exciting to see,” the key defensive piece expressed. The Chiefs CB room appears to have a new voice in 2024.

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