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Eagles Draft Analysis: Jaelyn Duncan OT Maryland



Welcome back to another analysis for the Philadelphia Eagles ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft. The last few players we looked at were all top 10 prospects. When the Eagles are this good and still get to pick in the top 10, you get excited and want to focus on those players. However, the Eagles have 2 picks in the first round. We should also take a look at some guys who we can snag with that pick in the later part of the round.


The last 4 players I looked at were all defensive players. However, let's take a look at someone on offense. The Eagles do not have any major holes on offense. I am sure someone says we should draft a QB, and I will kindly ignore those people. Howie Roseman loves investing in the offensive line. He wants to be set up for the long term there. Even with players like Lane Johnson and Jordan Mailata still playing his best ball, we could see Howie make a move for a RT to take over for Lane at some point. We saw it with Andre Dillard to replace Jason Peters (or that was supposed to happen.) Let's take a look at the University of Maryland's Jaelyn Duncan


 
Player Profile

Height: 6'6
Weight: 320
Hands: 9 1/8
Arms: 33 1/4
Span: 80

Jaelyn Duncan started 2 games his freshman year. He played 22 snaps and gave up 0 sacks, 0 QB hits, and 0 QB hurries. I mean those are great numbers. Yes, he barely played but if we just want to stat watch, then he's the best prospect in the history of the league.


Well, it was going to be hard for Duncan to replicate those 2018 numbers. He struggled tremendously in 12 games and 688 snaps that season. He gave up 7 sacks. 8 QB hits, and 29 QB hurries.


In a shortened 2020 season, he saw action in 5 games and was on the field for 313 snaps. Even in a shortened season, his number improved so much from 2019. He gave up 1 sack, 1 QB hit, and 6 QB hurries.


His 2021 season was his best statistical season while at Maryland. He played in 13 games and accumulated 804 snaps. He allowed 4 sacks, 2 QB hits, and & QB hurries.


Whichever team that selects Duncan will get a player with a lot of experience starting at LT. It would have been nicer to see more improvement over the years. When a guy starts in college as much as the Maryland LT, you would like to see their production show for it.


 
Strengths

  1. Lateral Movement

  2. Ability to be lead blocker

  3. Strength/Power

When you look at Duncan, he has everything you want in a starting LT in the NFL. There are things he needs to improve and work through to fine tune his game, but we will get to that later. Looking at his physical traits, Duncan is everything you want. He is tall, lean, and has great lower body strength. At the time of the snap, Duncan is so quick off the snap, light on his feet, and will match the movements of his opposition. His lateral movement is phenomenal. He can match-up both horizontally and vertically with the EDGE.


In the run game, Duncan has shown enough athleticism that he can power through and be a lead blocker. Duncan poses good leg strength that can help him displace linebackers to help push through the run game for the Terps offense.



Duncan relies on both his strength and power to be successful at the LT position. When he is well leveraged, his lower body and core strength are just enough to wall off any defender. His success comes from his low base and low center of gravity. When he is able to get his feet into the right place, he uses that strength to help displace the defender.


When looking at his power, he is right up there with the best prospects in this draft for his power. If he can get into the right position and is not late, he can power his way through the defense. His overall knee bend and solid flexibility allow him to absorb all contact.


In conclusion, his strength and power allow him to be as productive as he has been. He has a lot of experience as a starter at LT and that is a result of his power and strength. For as good as he has been, he has such a high ceiling. He needs to improve in many areas if he wants to be a consistent LT1 in the NFL.



 
Areas of improvement

  1. Hand/grip strength

  2. Pass protection

  3. Leaner

Duncan does not have overwhelming great size. When you look at other OT's in this class, he is going to be one of the smaller tackles. There are 3 areas that Duncan needs to improve to take his game from good to elite.


Duncan's length is average at best. He can often get outmatched by players with longer reaches than him. The lack of reach has resulted in a sub-par handgrip. The lack of handgrip has resulted in his anchor being ripped loose and him becoming off balanced and, in the end, getting beat. In situations where he is being outreached, he will often move off his center of gravity and will get beat that way.


Duncan has great speed with his feet. He can get into the right position right away, but his hands are always late. He needs to improve his hands and grip strength. EDGE rushers will have a field day with him if Duncan relies simply on his lower body and core strength.


In the passing game, Duncan really needs to improve. Duncan has really good lateral movement and good strength in his legs. However, when EDGE rushers rush to his outside, he can only go so far till he has to open his hips and run off the defender. Going back to his hands, in pass protection, Duncan often has his hands way to wide on his body. A simple swipe or jab by the defender is sometimes all they need.


It is easy to say Duncan needs to improve his upper body and become better in the passing game. For me, the way he can do that is to become leaner. He is not going to get a longer wingspan between now and April. If he can become leaner, he will become more agile and will be able to account for his lack of reach.


Duncan has a lot of upsides to his game, but a lot of glaring weaknesses in his game. Besides the lack of reach, every weakness he has can be improved.



 
Should the Eagles Draft Jaelyn Duncan?

Jaelyn Duncan is a hard prospect to decipher. He has traits that could make him a day 1 starter, but he also has weaknesses that make him a work in progress. He is a prospect that some people have him going in the first round, but he is grading out to a late day 2 to early day 3 prospect. He still has the Mayo Bowl, Senior Bowl, and testing to help increase his value, but right now there are a lot of question marks.


The Eagles are solid at the offensive line. However, they love to have a lot of depth even with a clear starter. They did it with Jason Peters when they drafted Andre Dillard. The idea that the Eagles could draft an offensive lineman in the first round is not out of the question. The question here, is Jaelyn Duncan worth the Eagles drafting him in the first round?


Duncan's athleticism that helps him benefit the run game alone could make him a day 1 pick. You can rarely find a LT that is so dominate in that part of the game, and Ducan does it so easily. He can move laterally quite well and has great strength and power. Traits like that give him such a high ceiling.



However, his lack of arm reach that has led to his struggles in pass protection and with EDGE rushers has provided more concerns than good. I don't believe that Duncan is a day 1 starter. He will need to come off the bench in year 1 and probably year 2 till he is fully ready. Good thing for the Eagles is they do not need a day 1 starter. If they do draft a LT/RT, it would be with the intention that they develop for a year or 2.


In short, I think the Eagles should pass on Jaelyn Duncan in the first round. There are too many question marks that outweigh his upside. If Duncan is available in the 3rd round (maybe even the 2nd,) I would be all for it. However, seeing as there are better options at other positions that we could draft in the 1st round, I am not drafting Duncan. I believe Jaelyn Duncan has the ability to be a starter in the NFL, but he needs to improve in other areas first.


 

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