Go Joe Bruin profiles former UCLA TE/Y-receiver Thomas Duarte as he prepares for the 2016 NFL Draft.
2016 NFL Draft Profile: Thomas Duarte #18 – UCLA
Duarte is a mismatch nightmare. No matter where he lines up he will have a physical advantage. He gobbles up yards with his smooth gait and is skilled at finding the soft spots in zone coverages while making himself a presentable target for a quarterback.
Has improved as a blocker overall. His hands are incredibly sticky and made several highlight reel catches look routine. Has the frame to add another 10-15lbs and as of this writing was close to 240lbs. Could be molded into a special kind of player if he ends up with a gifted offensive staff.
The Improvements Needed
What is he? A WR, TE, H-back? Doesn’t have the strength at his point to be an inline TE and although his blocking has improved that isn’t saying a lot.
Can be out muscled off the line and will need to become more physical. Speed is solid but doesn’t wow, especially given his lighter frame. How much heavier can he get without sacrificing speed?
53 catches, 872 yards (16.5 yards per catch), 10 touchdown receptions.
NFL Draft Projections
Walterfootball.com-Round 5 Selection #147, Miami Dolphins
NFL.com-Round 4 Selection #115, Atlanta Falcons
10 years ago a player like Duarte might have a hard time sticking to a roster because of his lack of definite position and making him a true tight end is like trying to force a square peg in a round hole. But given the rise of players likeJimmy Graham
and even Antonio Gates, TE’s who can catch and threaten a defense, especially up the middle are now a premium.
Final Grade: 4th round.