Trent McDuffie transcended the trend.

While former UW coach Jimmy Lake built a reputation on producing NFL-ready defensive backs, his only first-round DB in eight seasons in Seattle was Marcus Peters — who was dismissed from the program in 2014, then selected 18th overall by the Kansas City Chiefs less than six months later.

Eight more UW defensive backs followed — five second rounders, one third rounder and two fifth rounders.

Until Thursday, when McDuffie was selected by the same Chiefs with the 21st overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft.

Of course, the first-round result was not a surprise.

The same cannot be said of the suitor.

“I talked to (the Chiefs) at the combine, actually. I had an informal interview with them — spoke with the DC, (Steve) Spagnuolo,” McDuffie said Thursday, sporting a black Kansas City hat. “But after that we didn’t really have too much communication. So when I got that phone call it was like, ‘Who, Kansas City? This is dope.’ It was exciting when I got that phone call, for sure.”

McDuffie was the third cornerback selected Thursday, trailing LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr. (No. 3 to Houston) and Cincinnati’s Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner (No. 4 to the New York Jets). The Chiefs traded up with the Patriots to get him — sending No. 29 overall, No. 94 and No. 121 to New England in return for pick No. 21.

“Talk about a complete football player,” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said after the pick was announced. “I’m not concerned with his ball skills. He made plays on the football. He’s a guy that diagnoses things very quickly, excellent closing speed, a guy that never shies away from contact in run support.


“Critics I think will look at the ball skills and say, ‘Well, it didn’t translate to the field.’ Well, he didn’t have many opportunities, and they were able to move him around in coverage, line him up at a lot of different areas and spots on the field.”

McDuffie didn’t hear Kiper’s analysis on Thursday night.

How could he? There was too much screaming.

“During the draft, I wanted to make sure my aunts, my uncles, my grandparents, everybody was there,” McDuffie said. “Everybody who supported me growing up and through my football career was able to come and enjoy this moment with me.

“When I got the call and saw ‘Kansas City Chiefs’ I was like, ‘Hold on, let me step out.’ I was talking to coach (Andy) Reid, talking to Spagnuolo, talking to the Hunt family. And all of a sudden my family starts screaming. I’m like, ‘Hold on. What’s going on? What am I missing here?’ I run inside and of course my name popped up on the screen and everybody started screaming.”

Beyond defensive backs, a healthy helping of Huskies have had their names called in recent years. Specifically, nine UW players have been selected in the first round over the last decade. Five Huskies achieved first-round billing in the last six drafts — McDuffie, outside linebacker Joe Tryon (2021, Tampa Bay at No. 32), offensive tackle Kaleb McGary (2019, Atlanta at No. 31), defensive tackle Vita Vea (2018, Tampa Bay at No. 12), and wide receiver John Ross (2017, Cincinnati at No. 9).

Unfortunately, fellow UW corner Kyler Gordon didn’t join that group on Thursday, despite being one of 21 prospects who attended the draft in Las Vegas. The 6-0, 194-pounder’s wait will almost certainly end in the second round on Friday.

At 5-foot-11 and 193 pounds, McDuffie also might not look like a first-round lock — despite his 4.44-second 40-yard dash and 38.5-inch vertical leap. But the two-time All-Pac-12 pick’s film dwarfed his frame.


In a predraft scouting report, analyst Lance Zierlein called McDuffie a “three-year starter whose average size is overshadowed by skillful ruggedness, allowing him to contest throws from a variety of coverages. He’s an elite competitor with a route-hugging mentality fueled by body control, foot agility, aggression and burst. He’s a pesky press-man defender with the tools to excel in zone. He’s willing to fly downhill and hit anybody near the football. He keeps his eyes on the prize and has an itchy, twitchy trigger to close throwing windows and make plays on the ball.

“He lacks lockdown traits but has lockdown talent and his competitive energy is contagious. He can play outside or from the slot and carries a very high floor with the potential to become one of the league’s top corners at some point during his first contract.”

UW football fans already knows this. McDuffie showed it in 28 games and 26 starts, producing 94 tackles with 10 passes defended, 5.5 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and two interceptions. Along with Gordon and Brendan Radley-Hiles, the Westminster, California, corner and St. John Bosco High School product led a UW defense that finished first nationally in both pass defense (142.9 yards allowed per game) and opponent yards per pass attempt (5.4) in 2021.

Last week, NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said, “We used to do a thing in Baltimore, and they still do it today, with ‘red star players.’ You put the red star on a guy that you just want in the building. He might not be the best player in the draft, at his position, might not be the best player at his school, but he’s somebody that fits the culture. He’s tough. He’s intelligent. He’s competitive.

“To me, Trent McDuffie is a red star. He’s a red star guy — just everything about him, the way he plays, everything I hear about him from an intangibles standpoint.”

UW has produced precious few first round DBs in recent drafts. But multiple red star guys.

Now, McDuffie wants to prove he was worth the wait.

“Honestly, I tell everybody this: going into the NFL draft, I wasn’t looking at anything,” McDuffie said, when asked if he was surprised he fell to No. 21. “I did not care where I went. I didn’t care what round. I didn’t care who I was going to.

“I was like, ‘All I know is, I just want to be on a team. I just want to be part of an organization. Give me a shot, and I’ll do the rest.’”