Second-Year Jump: Can Trent McDuffie Build on Rookie Impact?

It’s officially the time of year when everyone takes a look at last season’s NFL rookies and projects how they can take that leap from first-year prospect to NFL veteran in their second season in the league. The second-year jump series is back and over the next several weeks, we will feature each rookie from the Kansas City Chiefs’ 2022 NFL Draft class.

Kansas City traded up to pick No. 21 in the 2022 draft to select cornerback Trent McDuffie out of Washington. McDuffie had a stellar college career, finishing his junior year number one in completion percentage allowed and yards allowed per coverage snap. He was the top-graded cornerback in 2021, according to Pro Football Focus. The Chiefs had McDuffie high enough on their board that it prompted them to move up when they still saw him available in the early 20s.

McDuffie’s career got off to a bit of a shaky start, and not necessarily by any fault of his own. During the first game of his NFL career, he suffered a hamstring injury due to poor field conditions in Arizona against the Cardinals. He made a great play before the injury, which made Chiefs fans excited about his potential. However, the excitement was dampened whenever it was revealed that the injury would keep him out several weeks and a stint on the injured reserve list was necessary.

By the end of the season, McDuffie ended up starting 11 regular season games for the Chiefs. He had some very solid games, as well as a few up-and-down games. He was generally a quality piece of the Chiefs’ young secondary. He finished the season with 28 solo tackles and 16 combined tackles, which included one tackle for loss. He also recorded a sack, had seven defended passes and one forced fumble.

In the playoffs, McDuffie stepped his game up even more. He had 15 tackles, including four solo and five total tackles in the Super Bowl against the Philadelphia Eagles. He also had a forced fumble in the 38-35 championship victory. This is just the beginning for McDuffie.

How can McDuffie make that vaunted second-year jump? Staying healthy will be key. Missing a large chunk of time to start the season was not ideal for the rookie. He was able to bounce back and look good in the process, so staying healthy and being available each game moving forward will be a huge boost for the team. That should also lead to him having a larger workload and even better stats in 2023.

The biggest thing to evade McDuffie thus far early in his NFL career has been the ability to get an interception. He had a few opportunities last season but was never quite able to convert. A lot of interceptions and turnovers in general come down to being in the right place at the right time, and McDuffie’s ability to be around the ball should continue to give him plenty of opportunities to make plays. It’s only a matter of time until he makes his first career interception. The forced fumbles and being able to create in other ways as nice for the rookie. He’ll look to continue to make plays and create turnovers in his second year as a starting cornerback for the defending champs.

McDuffie showed promise in his rookie campaign, which gave fans optimism that general manager Brett Veach made the right decision by trading up to get him in the first round in 2022. McDuffie will now look to build upon that trust and success in 2023. He has all of the tools to take that next step and make a positive second-year jump as the Chiefs look to defend their AFC West, AFC and Super Bowl titles. 

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