The Packers selected Isaiah McDuffie out of Boston College with the 220th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. At 6-foot-1 and 227 pounds, McDuffie is a bit of a departure from the Packers’ previous picks at linebacker, and it’s not clear exactly what kind of role he’ll play in Joe Barry’s defense, if any.
We won’t know what Barry’s defense will look like for some time, so to learn a little bit more about who McDuffie is and what he can do, we turned to Will Bagnall of BC Interruption for more information.
Acme Packing Company: What’s your tweet-length description of who Isaiah McDuffie is as a player?
Will Bagnall: McDuffie is what I like to call a ball-seeking missile. You watch BC Defensive highlights and it won’t take long to see #55. He’s almost always around the ball, knifing his way through blockers to the ball carrier, and rarely does he miss his mark.
APC: McDuffie tested pretty well, running a 4.61 at his pro day, and shows pretty good overall athleticism. How did that play into his role at Boston College?
WB: McDuffie’s speed helped him take full advantage of what was a very symbiotic relationship between the linebackers and the defense. BC didn’t have any elite pass rushers or run-stoppers on the defensive line so the team counted on their linebackers to either penetrate or track down any ball carriers that got through. McDuffie’s speed made him perfect for such a role and he was a big reason he was BC’s leading tackler and third on the team in sacks.
APC: One of the things that jumps out about McDuffie is his size: he’s a bit on the small side for an inside linebacker. Did that ever hold him back? If so, how did BC counteract it?
#3: McDuffie does not have the size to fight through most blocks, that is true for sure, but, when the BC defense worked as designed that wasn’t really a problem. BC may not have had elite defensive linemen but they were still talented and their goal was to keep the offensive lineman from reaching the second level and blocking players like McDuffie. Ideally, McDuffie didn’t have to worry about fighting off blockers that were much bigger than him. Then McDuffie’s speed would come into play allowing him to run down ball carriers and it would also allow him to race past blockers who weren’t used to a backer with his speed. Much like an offensive line opening up holes for a running back, McDuffie would look for any holes created by the D-line’s push and charge through them.