With the 220th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers add depth to their linebacker room by selecting Isaiah McDuffie from Boston College. Here are some immediate thoughts on the pick.
– As expected — or at least it should have been — the Green Bay Packers didn’t spend an early-round pick on the LB position like so many draft analysts thought. That would have been very against the grain for them. But they did add depth, which was needed.
– At this point, it’s clear what the Packers’ strategy is at linebacker, take a mid to late-round prospect each year and hope one of them hits. And I do think they have something in both Barnes and Martin.
– While I believe that they are just fine with Kamal Martin and Krys Barnes as their top-2 LBs this season, both did miss time with injuries last season. On top of that, Oren Burks and Ty Summers are primarily special teams players, while Burks is in the final year of his rookie deal.
– McDuffie has three years of experience but did miss a good portion of the 2019 season. The 2018 season is considered his best from a production and film standpoint.
– More recently, in 2020, he tallied 12 pressures, three sacks, and 6.5 tackles for loss. In coverage, he would allow 29 receptions on 34 targets for 13.6 yards per catch. McDuffie would also add 39 stops — or plays that result in a “loss” for the offense — which ranked 27th out of 200 eligible LBs, according to PFF ($$).
– When watching McDuffie, what stands out is his sideline to sideline range, and he also has some speed, sticking close running backs downfield. He has also been a fairly reliable tackler as well.
– With McDuffie’s functional athleticism, he will hopefully be someone who can contribute to this struggling Green Bay Packers’ special teams unit right away. Not only with the McDuffie selection but throughout this draft, it certainly appears that Green Bay is putting an emphasis on special teams play–which they should be.
– At this stage of the draft, fans shouldn’t be hoping that a player turns into a starter, and the same goes for McDuffie. If he does, that’s fantastic, but the hope is that he provides depth, stability, and special teams help.
– As always, I’ll wrap up with a look at McDuffie’s game. For more on what McDuffie’s can offer, here is what Joe Marino of The Draft Network has to say:
"“When studying McDuffie on film, it’s easy to notice his functional athleticism, quickness, fluidity, and urgency. He’s a good athlete that is hard-charging in pursuit and plays with the game with great enthusiasm. McDuffie is an excellent tackler that aims low, wraps, and rarely comes up empty. From a physical traits perspective, he has the ability to play in space and coverage. With that said, McDuffie has to become a better processor.While he makes quick reads, they are often incorrect. Compounding matters is that he often plays the game through a straw and struggles to get off blocks. McDuffie has many of the characteristics of a matchup linebacker in a 4-3 defense where he can cover, play in space, and pursue, but he has a long way to go in terms of play diagnosing and processing. McDuffie was a steady presence on special teams at Boston College and that is probably his best chance of sticking at the next level to give him a chance to develop as a linebacker.”"