To earn the attention of NFL scouts at the Division II level, a player must dominate. That is precisely what Duncan did, catching 71 passes for 1,045 yards and 13 scores in just 10 games in 2013 and culminating with invitations to the East-West Shrine Game and Senior Bowl. Duncan initially walked on at Sacramento State but suffered a micro-fracture injury at the end of his right femur, ending his season. Upon his return to health, Duncan turned the heads of D-I recruiters despite only catching 13 passes for 211 yards and three scores in eight games for El Camino Community College (CA), showing off surprising athleticism and strength for his frame. Rather than pursue the D-I opportunities, Duncan signed with Dixie State to play with his brother, linebacker Jake Duncan, immediately standing out for the Red Wave with a record-breaking 64 grabs for 949 yards and nine scores in 2011. The numbers caught NFL scouts' attention but Duncan and the Red Wave coaching staff was shocked when doctors determined that he needed further surgery on the leg, ending his 2012 season before it began. Duncan seemed to prove his health with a dominant 2013 season but missed the season finale against Central Washington with a hamstring injury and wasn't able to participate in either all-star game. An intriguing "Joker" tight end or H-back option if healthy, Dunbar's performance at the Combine - workout and medical - is critical to his final grade.
STRENGTHS: Possesses a relatively short but thick build with deceptive athleticism. Good initial quickness off the line of scrimmage and enough fluidity to gain separation. Reliable hands. Gathers in passes quickly, extending to catch passes away from his frame when facing the quarterback and tracking the ball well over his shoulder. Shows good balance and concentration in fighting off defenders draped over him to come up with the contested grab. Fights for extra yardage, keeping his legs churning through contact and attempting to spin out of tackles. Willing, if raw blocker. WEAKNESSES: Dominated against lower level competition and is not a top-notch athlete. Accelerates smoothly but possesses only fair straight-line speed, overall. Shows only fair lateral agility and while physical, simply doesn't break enough tackles given his size advantage over most of the defenders covering him. Featured receiver who spent much of his time out of the slot, making him a true project as a blocker. Injury to his right leg which cost him the 2010 and 2012 seasons demands investigation from NFL doctors at the Combine. COMPARES TO: David Paulson, Pittsburgh Steelers - Like Paulson, Dunbar possesses reliable hands and enough fluidity to use as a "move" tight end or H-back but he isn't an elite athlete capable of threatening down the seam and isn't an intimidating blocker. --Rob Rang
01/02/2014 - 2013 ASSOCIATED PRESS LITTLE ALL-AMERICAN FIRST TEAM: Tight End - Joe Don Duncan, senior, 6-4, 270, Dixie State,...Joe Don Duncan shattered records as a junior in 2011... he bested those marks in 2013. The tight end corraled a team-high 71 grabs for 1,045 yards with 13 touchdowns. He bested his single-season TD mark in game number seven on the year and became the first Dixie State receiver to eclipse reach the 1,000-yard barrier with 120 yards in the Storm's win at SFU. Duncan recorded five games over 100 yards to lead all GNAC receivers. - Dixie State football