Coming out of Dixie State in the 2014 NFL draft, Joe Don Duncan primarily carried a late round grade from those in the draft community. He ended up going undrafted, spending last season as the wide receiver coach for his alma mater, as he rehabbed from a broken foot that kept him from doing much of the drills at the NFL Scouting Combine. However, at the Combine, he did attempt the bench press, repping 225 pounds 35 times, which was more than any other tight end in the class.
Duncan, as a 6-foot-3, 270 pound tight end, does not have a style of play that you would expect from someone of his size. Typically, you expect a tight end of that size to be, at least, a solid blocker. Instead, Duncan is raw in this department and often reaches for blocks. When asked to block, he also gives a very questionable effort. Of course, this could change under NFL coaching, but there is no base for the coaches to work with.
As a receiver, he has a good route tree, but he could use polishing, as he tends to telegraph his route. He is also very agile and hard to bring down after the catch. That, to go along with excellent hands, makes him a dangerous receiving threat in the passing game. He won’t stretch the field and struggles to get open when he isn’t designed to get open, but he tracks the ball and can high-point it well enough to get vertical separation.
At Dixie State, Duncan was primarily placed outside in the slot and rarely as an in-line tight end. A lot of that is probably due to his lack of blocking acumen, while being a great receiver. He has a very high football IQ, so he may be able to pick up the game at the NFL level relatively fast.
Injuries are a concern with him as he missed the 2010 and 2012 season with leg injuries and battled a broken foot a year ago during the draft process. Also, even though he declared for the draft in 2014, this year will be his rookie season at 26 years old. As a raw player, his age does not bode well for him.
Joe Don Duncan is far from a guarantee to make the 53-man roster. He will have to beat all odds to make it. He will have to shine in all of the offseason workouts, training camp, and in preseason action to get considered for it. Even that may not be enough to land him on the final roster, but only on the practice squad. There is a lot of time between now and then and anything can happen.
Ultimately, although caution is warranted, Joe Don Duncan is a player to keep an eye on.
Thanks goes out to Luc Polglaze, a close friend of MHH, for his insights in contributing to this scouting report. Find him on Twitter @LucPolglaze.
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