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Chiefs’ Trent McDuffie is making leap from great to elite cornerback — and the coaches are noticing

Kansas City’s second-year corner has added another notch to his game in 2023

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Through three games, Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Trent McDuffie has elevated his game — and his off-the-field study habits could be a big reason why.

“Just going home studying,” the second-year corner said Thursday when asked about his strong start to the regular season. “I think that’s the biggest thing that I can do this year that I’m working better at…making sure I know what I’m doing each and every day to [be] sure that I’m doing my job plus and making the plays I need to make.”

Entering Weel 4, Pro Football Focus grades McDuffie (91.6 overall) as the league’s best cornerback.

“Going home and really going over the details. Really making sure that I know what I’m doing in this defense… and on the other hand knowing who I’m going against,” the former Washington Husky added.

“Knowing my opponent, knowing the releases, the receivers, knowing where the quarterbacks are looking… so just being able to go out there and slow this game down has been huge for me,” McDuffie said.

Analysts aren’t the only ones noticing a stronger and more confident McDuffie this season, as Chiefs defensive coaches praised the starter ahead of Sunday’s primetime matchup with the New York Jets.

PFF and all the rankings that they have… they obviously have been watching the film because he’s been playing some good football for us, and we need that,” defensive backs coach Dave Merritt said of the 2022 first-rounder.

“Trent right now is playing at a very high level,” Merritt added, praising the starter for his patience and versatility through a variety of techniques and assignments. “He’s probably one of the smartest DB’s that I’ve come across at this age.”

Not only is McDuffie aggressive in study habits, but he’s also willing to do the dirty work — his willingness to tackle sets an example for Spanuolo’s unit.

“Every time he hits the sled, I’m surprised how heavy-handed he is,” Merritt said jokingly. “The willingness to tackle is very important and he’s been doing it since Day 1.”

Entering week four, McDuffie has collected 16 total tackles and two forced fumbles.

“We talk about how versatile ([ L’Jarius Sneed] is…Trent (McDuffie) is just as versatile,” defensive coordinator Steve Spagnulo said. “Being able to go inside and outside… as many guys as we can have playing different positions, I think that helps us.”

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