Jaelyn Duncan, OT
School: Maryland | Conference: Big 10
College Experience: Senior | Age: 23 years (in July 2023)
Height / Weight: 6’5.5” / 306 lbs
Projected Draft Status: Round 2 to Round 5
Duncan Looks the Part
Jaelyn Duncan has enormous potential. Let see why. First, his athleticism is striking. Here is his RAS chart:
Jaelyn Duncan is a OT prospect in the 2023 draft class. He scored a 9.02 #RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 128 out of 1293 OT from 1987 to 2023. https://t.co/OPvyN1roCf pic.twitter.com/nCNqUZzdyU— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 19, 2023
In a year in which there are several freaky athletes among the OL prospects, Duncan is not at the very top of his class in athleticism, but he is elite among all offensive tackles tested and included in the RAS database. In particular, he has elite speed and explosiveness. How does that translate into his play?
First let’s look at some short Tweets of his highlights. The first Tweet shows his ability to anchor – a critical skill for OTs. He does that very effectively in three clips. The second Tweet shows his performance in 2021 against Aidan Hutchinson of Michigan, the second pick in last year’s draft and a good pro. On that play, he shut Hutchinson down.
Maryland LT Jaelyn Duncan is being brought in by the #Chiefs on a Top 30 visit (per @_RyanFowler_ )— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) April 13, 2023
The four-year starter on the left edge is lighting fast into his pass set w/ quick, smooth footwork to re-direct inside
A good foundation to work from as he develops his anchor pic.twitter.com/2O7YgOpKv4
This rep from Jaelyn Duncan (Maryland LT 71) vs. Aidan Hutchinson is pretty. pic.twitter.com/4wsFwy4iJ0— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) July 22, 2022
So far, so good. We could nitpick about his technique, but overall, it is solid, and he is effective at protecting the quarterback.
Senior Bowl Performance
Now let’s look at his Senior Bowl performance. Set the video to 2x speed and it’s done in 3 minutes.
What do we see? This guy gets our attention. Duncan looks good against serious competition. He has great feet, a nice kick slide, he bends his knees well, and he shows some strength. He looks as calm and graceful as a gazelle. His hand use isn’t sophisticated, but it is generally effective. He looks good both at LT and at RT, which may be important for the future.
We also notice some issues that we stick in a mental file folder. He handles most Edge rushers well, but the strongest sometimes give him trouble, walking him back into the quarterback, and the fastest occasionally get around him – although on this tape, so late that it would do no damage. Is he good enough to handle NFL-caliber starting Edge rushers?
After seeing him, we think about his body type and RAS score again. He has good height at just under 6’6, but his weight is low at 306. However, he is well proportioned and has a frame that should be able to handle as much as 20 pounds more of good weight. He is not high-waisted. He has a big butt and I cannot lie . . . that’s good in an OL because it helps them anchor. He is strong but not elite in strength. Maybe we can work with the total package because he is a plus athlete. However, he has one odd deficiency: poor agility. That’s more important for an OT than speed or strength. Does low agility affect his play?
Performance Statistics and Projections
Now we come to the rub. Duncan appears to have incredible potential, and I really want him to be great, but he is an underachiever. He must have developed physically at Maryland – he does not look like any high school player I know – but there are complaints in several profiles that his technique did not progress much in his years at Maryland. (Can we get some Terp fans to weigh in on that, please?). He was projected to be a potential first round pick before the 2022 season, but he did not play like one. In fact, his statistics are concerning. In 2022, Duncan gave up 28 pressures, 4 QB hits, and 7 sacks (3 more than in 2021). These were not caused by injuries; he had no major injuries last year. What’s going on?
Projections of Duncan are all over the map. Some (ESPN, SI.com, Walter Football) project him as a second rounder, several project him as a 3rd rounder, PFF and Bleacher Report see him as a 4th rounder, and NFL.com projects him as a backup OT or G only who would be taken in the 5th round. Now that’s a divergence of opinion.
Let’s See His Work in Games:
We need to look at game tape to figure out why he does not appear to be living up to his potential and why opinions about him are so divided. We have two games to look at: Michigan and Ohio State, both in 2022.
Here’s what I see on tape. First and foremost, Duncan is very inconsistent. He can follow up a great block that stops a rusher in his tracks with a complete whiff on his man.
- His athleticism is apparent
- Pass protection: often moves well to mirror pass rushers, shows some physical strength
- On the last two Maryland TDs in the Michigan game, he rallied from prior mistakes to stonewall the man that had beaten him earlier, permitting the QB time to make a TD pass
- He moves well on the rare occasions in which he is asked to do so. He usually can get to the second level and make an effective block, he pulls well, and he is a good blocker on screens
- He gave up multiple sacks in both games when the Edge rusher just ran over or around him
- He is not very good at recognizing blitzes or stunts. Both teams threw multiple rushers in his direction, and he often made poor decisions about which one to take on, such as helping the LG double team the inside rusher while leaving the outside man alone
- His stance before the play is high and he stays high, losing leverage against the defender.
- He is not a good finisher. On pass protection, he often starts well and then loses his man; on running plays, he gets in front of the man he is blocking but rarely buries him
- His hand use is predictable and boring. You want to vary punches and timing to disrupt the defender and make him think. Duncan almost always uses the same two-handed punch.
What else do you see?
I wonder about several things after seeing him play that perhaps Maryland fans can address in the comments. First, he does not look well-coached. He looked much better in the Senior Bowl. Is there an OL coaching problem at Maryland? Second, I wonder if he has conditioning issues that lead him to play too upright because he’s tired in the second half. Is that consistent with what you see?
How Would He Fit in Washington:
At this point, he is a dangerous man to leave on the outside against NFL Edge rushers. He needs a lot of development and much more consistency before he is ready to play in the league. The fact that he did not get better from his junior to his senior year is very concerning; has he hit his ceiling as an OT already?
How might Washington take advantage of his strengths while masking his weaknesses? Two things might help. First, he might be much better suited to playing in a zone blocking scheme than in a power/gap scheme. He is average in strength but above average in movement. If the team under Bieniemy moves more toward a zone scheme, he would be more attractive to Washington. Second, he may be a G rather than a T. There are just too many cases on film where he cannot handle speed rushers. Also, he is tall but not long. Tall, long pass rushers give him a lot of trouble. Ohio State’s Zach Harrison, who is projected to be a bottom of the roster NFL player, is tall and has 36” arms, and he gave Duncan fits. He won’t have to worry about as many players like that if he is moved to G. He doesn’t have the prototypical body for a G, but with added muscle, he might be a surprisingly good ZBS G.
A lot depends on what the team learns about him as a person. He says all the right things in media interviews. Does he want and accept coaching? Does the Washington staff think that his problems are correctable and that they can coach him up?
Here are two questions to provoke some discussion:
What is the most important area for improvement to unlock Jaelyn Duncan’s potential?
This poll is closed
Get much bigger and stronger
Better use of arms and hands
Use him as a zone blocker, not a power / gap blocker
Develop a much tougher mentality
Move him to guard
You can give the reasoning for your choice in comments.
If the Commanders take Jaelyn Duncan, in what round should they take him?
This poll is closed