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On the Draft Board: Maryland offensive tackle Jaelyn Duncan

The experienced left tackle is reportedly one of the Chiefs’ Top 30 visits this pre-draft cycle.

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Maryland v Michigan State Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

There are many positions the Kansas City Chiefs will address with draft picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, and offensive tackle may be one of the most likely. They appear to be doing their homework: The Draft Network’s Ryan Fowler reported that the Chiefs have scheduled a top-30 pre-draft visit with Maryland left tackle Jaelyn Duncan.

Duncan has started at left tackle for the Maryland Terrapins for four seasons, earning honorable mention All-Big Ten twice during his career.

Here’s what to know about Duncan:

Background

As a four-star high school recruit from Maryland, Duncan committed to the University of Maryland despite offers from Ohio State, Florida, LSU, and Michigan. Duncan came to the game of football late — not playing until he was 14 years old.

After a redshirt season, Duncan became the team’s starting left tackle as a redshirt freshman. He stayed in that position for the rest of his career, finishing with 39 starts and an invitation to the Reese’s Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine.

At the combine, Duncan came in at the height of 6’5” and weighed 306 lbs. His 33-inch arms are right around the threshold that many NFL teams use to gauge if a prospect can play offensive tackle at the professional level. He was great in his athletic testing, recording a broad jump in the 92nd percentile for offensive tackle prospects historically and a vertical leap in the 86th percentile.

Film evaluation

Duncan had no experience in any other position during his collegiate career. He played 2,620 snaps at left tackle and had one career snap as a left guard.

The first thing that stands out about Duncan is how quickly he emerges from his stance and into his pass set. He has a lightning-fast first step that gives him an advantage against pass rushers coming off the edge, beating them to a spot and being ready to take them on faster than most offensive tackles would be.

That footwork is paired with active hands to mirror rushers up the arch or as they try to win inside. He has the redirection ability to match the movement of an inside rush and wash the defender out through the other side of the pocket.

It’s the momentum that allows him to show that power. He does not have the raw power to overwhelm rushers without that momentum.

The smooth movement skills also show up as a run blocker. Duncan flies off the ball and latches onto defenders quicker than they’d expect from most offensive tackles. That allows him to set the tone at the front of a run action, but he also looks very comfortable getting into the second level of a defense and blocking in space.

Duncan’s experience as a left tackle is good, but he still needs further development as a player to start at the NFL level. First of all, he severely lacks the anchor to stop bull rushes and can get overwhelmed by power (as he does here against Ohio State edge rusher Zach Harrison). It may be as simple as adding more mass,= or just getting stronger.

He also has some work to do on the finer details of his pass set.

For having such quick feet, there are too many times when the rusher still wins to the outside. I believe it’s because he is fearful of oversetting, and allowing the inside power to win — but he needs to work on getting the proper depth; the quarterback can react to pressure from the inside, but it’s a lot harder to feel if the blindside edge rusher is coming around the corner.

How he fits with the Chiefs

If the Chiefs were to select Duncan sometime in the second or third round, he has the talent to come in and compete for one of the starting offensive tackle positions right away — but that doesn’t mean he should be the starter.

If the team wants to cement offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor as the long-term left tackle, Duncan could develop at right tackle, and he may even be a better fit than the team’s current option: Lucas Niang.

However, if the Chiefs want to keep Duncan at his natural position of left tackle — while also keeping Taylor at his natural position of right tackle — I would not feel comfortable starting Duncan on the left side right away. I believe his current deficiencies would be easier to mask at right tackle than on the blindside of quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

I also believe Duncan could be used as a swing tackle to start his career, allowing Taylor to start at left tackle. Then you could see the team revert both of them to their natural positions in a year or two. Either way, Duncan is a developmental prospect that could become a very good pass protector, but he would need the appropriate coaching to get there.

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