Between the handful of players I’ve interviewed throughout the 2017 NFL Draft process, Willie Duncan has been one of my favorites to talk to, and one of the players I keep in touch with the most. Just by talking to him, you can tell he has pure love for the game and is going to be one of those guys who never stops working, no matter what.
Duncan enjoyed a prestigious, productive career at Arkansas Pine Bluff where he was a tackling machine, ending his career with 403 tackles. Duncan was also a 3x All-SWAC recipient. In a week three game this past season, what turned out to be an upset win against Alcorn State in triple overtime, Duncan paved the way for his team as he was named Conference Defensive Player of the Week after totaling 17 tackles – 12 of which were solo tackles.
Not only was he productive in college, but Duncan has that humble, hard working demeanor that translates to the next level as coaches love to work with that type of attitude. Duncan’s effort and “want” is transparent on the field as you’ll frequently see him moving from sideline-to-sideline to chase down ball carriers.
Throughout the draft process, Duncan has been working non-stop and was even invited to the Regional Combine hosted by the New Orleans Saints back in March. Whether he goes drafted or not, Duncan should be able to work his way onto a roster due to his unmatched heart on the field.
Q: Has your dream always been to be a professional football player?
A: Yes it has. Actually since I was 5 years old, playing football, I [just] never stopped playing, I played every single year. That’s all I did all my life.
Q: What do you think will be the toughest aspect of transitioning to the next level?
A: I would have to say the business part about it. I know I’ve always done it for the love of the game, since I was 5 years old, just making sure it’s all about business and contracts. That will be the toughest aspect.
Q: Who was the best player you ever had to play against?
A: I would have to say, the best player I ever had to play against was Kyle Coleman. He was actually recently in the Seahawks Minicamp. He played linebacker, but when he played for us he played tight end. Going against him 1-on-1s was really challenging because he was a very versatile player, he played running back, tight end, sometimes receiver.
Q: What do you consider to be the biggest strength of your overall game?
A: I would have to say my aggressiveness towards the run game. I’m a great block shedder, I attack the ball, have great instincts for the game, and I know the play before it’s happening because of my great film study.
Q: What is an area of your game you feel you need to improve on?
A: An area I need to improve on, sometimes, one of my strengths can be one of my weaknesses at the same time. Sometimes my aggressiveness. I’m a very aggressive football player, and I feel like sometimes I try to do too much.
Q: What NFL player would you say you model your game after?
A: I would have to say Jon Beason. The way he attacks blocks, the way he gets from sideline to sideline. I love his instincts for the game. I watch him and study him all the time. I love his inside zone play and his outside zone play as well. I love the way he attacks ball carriers.
Q: Given the opportunity to sell yourself to an NFL General Manager, what would you say about yourself?
A: Honestly, I feel like I’m the best linebacker in the draft. Honestly, if you look at my tape, look ay my film, I feel like I have every aspect that you’re looking for. I feel like [if I’m] given just one opportunity, I’ll show you.
Q: What type of music/artist are you listening before a game to get hyped?
A: I like to listen to gospel.. the ‘Greater is Coming’ because it reminds me where I was when I was from the bottom, and every aspect I went through during my life
Q: What do you enjoy doing in your off time? Any hobbies?
A: In my off time I like watching NFL Network. I love football, that’s all I do is watch football.