Like many of his teammates, Thomas Duarte made an immediate impact when he arrived at UCLA, playing in all 13 games and starting four of them. That year, he caught 16 passes for 214 yards en route to tying UCLA's true freshman record with three touchdown passes.
He built on his freshman year success and had an even better year in 2014. Duarte had 28 receptions for 540 yards and 4 TDs. He led the Bruins and the Pac-12 with an average of 19.29 yards per catch. That ranked 15th best in the country. For his efforts, he was received an All-Pac-12 honorable mention selection.
Duarte had a breakout year in 2015. He led UCLA with 10 touchdowns and ranked 17th in the nation. He had three 100-yard receiving games while catching 53 passes for 872 yards. That was good enough to earn Duarte a second team All-Pac-12 selection.
NFL Combine Results
|NFL Combine Tale of the Tape|
|Arm Length||33 inches|
|NFL Combine Physical Tests|
|40-Yard Dash||4.72 seconds|
|Bench Press||12 reps|
|Vertical Jump||33.5 inches|
|Broad Jump||118.0 inches|
|3 Cone Drill||6.97 seconds|
|20-Yard Shuttle||4.24 seconds|
One of Duarte's biggest strengths is his size which creates problems for opponents. His size also allows him to work the middle of the field without being concerned about defenders. He is good at faking out opponents off the ball.
He uses his size and his arms to pull in balls that might not be catchable by smaller receivers.
Duarte lacks the ability to make defenders miss after he catches the ball as he tends to rely on beating them before making the catch. He can be disrupted by contact before the ball arrives.
He hasn't really done much blocking due to former UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone's offensive scheme.
Duarte may very well be the top pass catching tight end in this year's draft. Rotoworld mentions that Pro Football Focus graded him as the #1 receiving grade in this year's tight end class.
Duarte received a third round grade from the NFL Draft advisory committee. His stock has really fallen, but it hasn't really jumped either.
Despite all that, Duarte isn't projected to go until at least Round 6, according to NFL.com.