2014 Sleeper TE: Joe Don Duncan
By Ken Scudero
Every week leading up to the 2014 NFL Draft, we will focus on one specific position. This week, the spotlight is on CBs.
Unlike the abundance of talent at the quarterback position in the 2014 draft, this year's tight end class doesn't exactly have much depth. There's Eric Ebron, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Jace Amaro, and then there are the rest of the big pass-catching, run-blocking prospects.
It'll be interesting to see how the tight ends come off the board after the big three, and that's where the most intriguing tight end prospect of the draft comes into play" Dixie State's Joe Don Duncan, a 6-foot-4, 270-pound tight end who has the chance to be one of the first 10 drafted at his position.
Duncan missed the Senior Bowl with an injury he sustained on the last game of the season. He's expected to lift at the Combine but won't be able to run.
He put together a spectacular senior season, catching 71 balls for 1,045 yards and 13 TDs. Duncan was named to four different Division II All-American teams.
Duncan is crazy athletic for his size, and is versatile in the style he plays. Most of the time, he comes off the line and gets involved in the passing game. His hands are incredible for a tight end, and not only does he get off the line and to the sideline quick, he can go deep just as effectively. His route running could use some fine tuning but his catch and run ability as a 270-pounder is remarkable.
Duncan also can line up in the backfield and either pass protect or act as a check down option for the quarterback. He can improve some on his run blocking by being more consistent, as there are times he gets beat right off the snap. But Duncan is a big body and is good on his feet, so there is a realistic possibility in him becoming a very good blocker.
The fact that the tight end prospect class is weak does help Joe Don Duncan, but that's not the main reason why his draft stock his risen. He's a playmaker, one of those rare tight ends we've seen become an important part of an NFL offense in recent years. There's plenty of room for improvement in his blocking and when running complex routes. We won't get an official 40 time from Duncan before the draft due to injury, but on tape, it's evident that he has good speed for his size. To put it simply, Duncan gets off the line well and is always ready for a pass, and the play usually doesn't end when he catches the ball. As a raw, athletic playmaker, Duncan has a realistic shot at being drafted as high as the 4th round.