Whether the Green Bay Packers are interested in Texas Tech's Brian Duncan is a mystery. Duncan said he filled out a questionnaire for the Packers at the NFLPA all-star game but has not met with the team in any fashion.
Duncan, however, is exactly the type of player the Packers — and outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene — would want.
"If they're interested in me, c'mon, I'm the guy that they need," Duncan said.
An all-conference player on the football field and in the classroom, Duncan's infectious attitude comes through in the opening moments of a phone call. Duncan, who is expected to be a late-round draft pick, offers the type of versatility that is a coach's dream when it comes to filling out the 45-man gameday roster every Sunday.
A four-year starter, Duncan spent his first three seasons as a middle linebacker in Tech's 4-3 scheme. As a senior, the Red Raiders went to a 3-4 and Duncan wound up starring at outside linebacker. After posting 1.5 sacks in his first three seasons, he ranked eighth in the Big 12 with seven sacks as a senior.
"The coaches came in and were smart enough to see what each guy's potential was all about," Duncan told Packer Report. "I had one practice when I did a pass-rush move and they were pretty excited about it. They said, ‘Hey, we're going to move you down there. We're going to need your pass-rushing ability. You have a good first three steps so we're going to use you.'
"It was a good opportunity to show a little versatility. It was complex but something that I got really fast. It was fun, being able to come from all over the place and actually have offenses adjusting to your defense. I had a good time and it was a pretty good fit for me."
To earn a roster spot as a late-round/undrafted player, versatility and special teams value are paramount. The 6-foot-1, 235-pound Duncan offers both. He said he's "crazy about" special teams, and said he earned the starting job at linebacker as a freshman based on the playmaking ability he showed on the kickoff team. He plans on taking that same path in the NFL.
"I consider myself a jack of all trades," he said. "I'm most definitely a run-stopper. You put me in the middle and I have good instincts, nose to the ball, what gaps to fit. If you want to move me outside, I have the speed and the steps and the moves to get to the quarterback. Wherever you want me to be, I'm that guy. I love special teams. If all they need is special teams, that's exactly what I'm going to do."
Former Dallas Cowboys safety and special teams ace Bill Bates was the head coach of the Texas team at the NFLPA game. Bates called Duncan a "fire ball" in listing his practice-week standouts. The intensity that Duncan plays with parallels the intensity of his favorite players: Ray Lewis and Clay Matthews.
"He's basically a coach himself," Duncan said of Lewis. "He's out there calling his own plays, he's out there making adjustments, studying quarterbacks. If I play middle linebacker, I want to pattern my game after Ray Lewis. I don't want that to be a cliché because it's Ray Lewis but that's a really good guy. On the outside, Clay Matthews is just relentless — that's what I am. When I see him play, it just gets me excited. I'd love to play next to him, learn what he has to offer."
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.