With the initial craze of free agency now behind us, it is time to look forward to the 2022 NFL Draft. The Baltimore Ravens currently have 10 picks, including the No. 14 overall pick — their highest since drafting All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley with the No. 6 overall pick in 2016.
With their top two cornerbacks are coming off of season-ending injuries, Anthony Averett’s departure in free agency, and Tavon Young’s release, the Ravens are back to having razor-thin depth at the position. They need a new nickel corner to man the slot.
Washington’s Trent McDuffie can line up in the slot and out-wide, which means that the Ravens could check multiple boxes if they decide to take him in the first round. He has been a popular Ravens’ projection in many mock drafts during the pre-draft process and is viewed as one of the elite athletes in the class, regardless of position.
At 5-foot-11 and just under 200 pounds, McDuffie lacks the prototypical size teams look for and prefer in a perimeter corner. However, he makes up for less than ideal measurables by being a fierce competitor that possesses a plethora of alluring traits.
He can tightly cover any route thanks to his incredible body control, excellent footwork, and ability to open up his hips and change direction on a dime. His aggressive mentality extends past his prowess in coverage, as he is more than willing to play the run and isn’t afraid to bring the wood in order to chop down a ball carrier. These are attributes needed to play in nickel at a high level.
Trent McDuffie, who I haven't featured since the summer. He must run 40 yards here and makes a TFL. McDuffie is an all day athlete that tackles so well in the open field. pic.twitter.com/Bxoxcpnt7k— Matt Alkire (@mattalkire) February 15, 2022
He limits yards after the catch by being a consistent and good tackler in the open field, a trait the Ravens lacked for the majority of the season in 2021. According to Pro Football Focus, McDuffie allowed 16 catches on 296 total passing snaps in 2021.
Even though he only had two interceptions in three years including none in 2021, McDuffie does have good ball skills. His twitchy burst allows him to quickly close throwing windows and make breaks on the ball when it arrives.
Trent McDuffie is CB__ in the Draft pic.twitter.com/Rexb3nyphU— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) February 21, 2022
He plays with tremendous physicality, toughness, and instincts, with a natural feel for passing off routes cleanly in zone coverage. There aren’t many weaknesses to his game outside of his size, which might make guarding bigger-bodied wide receivers at the next level a bit of a challenge at times. This hasn’t affected the likes of the Green Bay Packers’ Jaire Alexander, though, who he has been frequently compared to.
Many draft analysts believe McDuffie has the potential to blossom into an elite player at the position on his rookie contract. If he realizes that potential with the Ravens, he’d be an excellent successor to Marcus Peters and pair perfectly with Marlon Humphrey. Also, he would allow Humphrey to stay exclusively on the outside and not have to bump inside on third downs or sets with three or more wide receivers on the field.