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Broncos free agency: Denver adds first-year tight end Joe Don Duncan to roster

Duncan was considered a sleeper tight end before the 2014 NFL draft.


Update II: Check out our feature story on Duncan here.

Update: Football Outsiders' Matt Waldman had Duncan ranked as his No. 3 tight end prospect going into last year's draft.

Joe Don Duncan is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Julius Thomas.

Duncan has signed a contract with the Broncos, the team announced Tuesday. Terms of the deal are unknown.

Technically, 2015 will be Duncan's rookie season.

Don Duncan (6-3, 268 pounds) played tight end at Dixie State and was featured as a receiving tight end, often lining up in the slot. He has battled injuries his entire career that caused him to miss the entire 2012 season and forced him to skip the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Game in 2014.

Injuries also prevented him from doing most of the drills in last year's combine, but he did bench press 225 pounds 35 times, more than any other tight end (via Deseret News' Brandon Judd). He went undrafted a year ago and did not play football in 2014.

But the numbers are there.

He caught 71 passes for 1,045 yards and 13 touchdowns at Dixie State his senior year, setting new school records. His numbers are even more impressive when you realize where he's come from.

Duncan walked on Sacramento State before transferring to a junior college and then finally ending up at Dixie State, a Division II school. Last year,'s draft profile for Don Duncan highly praised him:

Outstanding football IQ. Football is extremely important to him. Emergency kicker and long-snapper. Superb production for a tight end.

Julius Thomas battled through injuries during his first two years with the Broncos before breaking out as a receiving tight end in 2013. Thomas cashed in this offseason, signing a five-year deal with the Jaguars reportedly worth $46 million.

Duncan is not guaranteed to make the Broncos' roster, but if he can overcome his injuries, he has the potential to contribute in Denver. He joins tight ends Virgil Green, Owen Daniels, and Dominique Jones in Denver.