Thomas Duarte
Duarte (No. 18) with UCLA in 2014
No. --     
Tight end
Personal information
Date of birth: (1995-03-30) March 30, 1995 (age 26)
Place of birth: Fullerton, California
Career information
College: UCLA
NFL Draft: 2016 / Round: 7 / Pick: 231
No regular season or postseason appearances
Career history
* Miami Dolphins ( 2016 2017)
Roster status: Active
Career highlights and awards
* Second-team All-Pac-12 (2015)

Thomas James Duarte (born March 30, 1995)[1] is an American football tight end that is currently a free agent of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the UCLA Bruins, and earned second-team all-conference honors in the Pac-12 as a junior in 2015. After foregoing his final year of college eligibility to enter the 2016 NFL Draft, he was selected by the Miami Dolphins in the seventh round. He spent most of his two seasons with the Dolphins on their practice squad. He played for the Arizona Hotshots of the Alliance of American Football (AAF) in 2019, but the league suspended operations midseaon in its only season.

Early life

Duarte was born in Fullerton, California to Timothy and Deborah Duarte.[2] Growing up, Duarte was always big. At age 10, he was 5 feet 5 inches (1.65 m) and 120 pounds (54 kg). He played tackle football for a year against players who were three to four years older. However, he went back to playing flag football after the players his size entered high school, and he became too big to play Pop Warner football due to their weight restrictions.[3][4]

Duarte returned to tackle football as a high school freshman at Mater Dei High in Santa Ana.[4][5] As a senior, he had 58 receptions with 1,025 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns and averaged 18 yards a catch. He also played on defense at linebacker, and had 42 tackles, 10 quarterback sacks, three interceptions and a fumble recovery.[4] He was named Player of the Year by the Los Angeles Times and Offensive Player of the Year by The Orange County Register.[4][6]

The son of a Mexican-American father and Japanese-American mother,[7] Duarte was one of the rare high-profile college recruits to be of Asian descent.[3] He was rated a four-star prospect and capable of playing tight end, H-back, or wide receiver in college.[3][8] He decided to attend the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), his mother's alma mater.[9]

College career

Duarte struggled with hamstring injuries during his first two seasons with the Bruins.[10] In his junior year in 2015, he was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection at tight end.[11] He finished the season with 53 receptions for 872 yards, and led the team with 10 touchdown catches. His 16.6 yards per reception was the highest among UCLA receivers with 10 or more catches. After the season, he opted to forego his final year of college eligibility and enter the 2016 NFL Draft.[12]

Professional career

Duarte was the top performer in his position on the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, broad jump, 3 cone drill and the 20-yard shuttle in 2016 NFL Combine.

Pre-draft measureables
Ht Wt 40-yd dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert Broad BP Wonderlic
6 ft 2 in 231 lb 4.72 s 4.24 s 6.97 s 33.5 in 9 ft 10 in 12 rep

Miami Dolphins

Duarte was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the seventh round, 231st overall, in the 2016 NFL Draft.[14] On September 3, 2016, he was released by the Dolphins as part of final roster cuts.[15] He was later signed to their practice squad. He was promoted to the active roster on November 5.[16] The next day, he was in for two snaps in a 27–23 win over the New York Jets in his only action for the season.[17]

On September 2, 2017, Duarte was waived by the Dolphins and was signed to the practice squad the next day.[18][19] He was promoted to the active roster on December 20 to replace tight end Julius Thomas, who was placed on injured reserve.[17][20]

During the 2018 offseason, Duarte missed part of the team's training program with a shoulder injury.[21] He returned for training camp, and had his moments, but was among the Dolphins final cuts before the 2018 season after he failed to supplant veterans MarQueis Gray and A. J. Derby.[22][23][24]

Los Angeles Chargers

On September 3, 2018, Duarte was signed to the Los Angeles Chargers' practice squad.[25] He was released on September 25, 2018.[26]

Arizona Hotshots

In 2019, Duarte joined the Arizona Hotshots of the Alliance of American Football.[27] He caught eight passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns before the league suspended operations mid-season.[28]

Carolina Panthers

Duarte signed with the Carolina Panthers on April 8, 2019.[28] He was waived on May 13, 2019.[29]

Atlanta Falcons

On August 24, 2019, Duarte was signed by the Atlanta Falcons.[30]


  1. "2015 UCLA Bruins Football Media Guide". UCLA Bruins. 2015. p. 17. Archived from the original on January 16, 2016.
  2. "Thomas Duarte Bio". Archived from the original on January 16, 2016.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Maya, Adam (February 4, 2013). "Mater Dei's Duarte breaking the mold". Archived from the original on January 16, 2016.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Fryer, Steve (December 18, 2012). "Mater Dei's Duarte is offensive player of the year". Archived from the original on January 16, 2016.
  5. Muranaka, Gwen (June 27, 2013). "A New Son of Westwood". Rafu Shimpo. Archived from the original on January 26, 2016.
  6. Sonheimer, Eric (December 19, 2012). "Mater Dei's two-sided hit". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on January 16, 2016.
  7. Wang, Jack (November 25, 2013). "UCLA receiver Thomas Duarte proud of biracial heritage". Los Angeles Daily News. Archived from the original on January 16, 2016.
  8. Oliver, Brandon P. (October 8, 2012). "Calif. TE Thomas Duarte in no rush". Archived from the original on January 16, 2016.
  9. Miller, Jeff (August 28, 2013). "Practice makes perfect for Bruins' Duarte". The Orange County Register. Archived from the original on January 16, 2016.
  10. Foster, Chris (November 12, 2015). "There's always a catch with UCLA's Thomas Duarte". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on January 16, 2016.
  11. Gold, Jason (January 12, 2016). "Report: UCLA receiver Thomas Duarte declares for 2016 NFL Draft". Archived from the original on February 23, 2016.
  12. Taylor, Johnson (January 13, 2016). "UCLA WR Thomas Duarte latest to leave early for NFL". Archived from the original on January 16, 2016.
  13. "NFL Events: Combine Player Profiles - Thomas Duarte". National Football League.
  14. "2016 NFL Draft Listing" (in en).
  15. Poupart, Alain (September 3, 2016). "Dolphins Make Moves To Get Roster To 53".
  16. "PRESS RELEASE: Dolphins Make Roster Moves". November 5, 2016.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Habib, Hal (December 20, 2017). "Two snaps in two years, but Miami Dolphins TE Thomas Duarte gets shot at last". Palm Beach Post. Archived from the original on December 22, 2017.
  18. "Dolphins Make Roster Moves". September 2, 2017.
  19. "Dolphins Sign 8 To Practice Squad". September 3, 2017.
  20. "Miami Dolphins Make Roster Moves". December 20, 2017.
  21. "Dolphins' Thomas Duarte: Participating in training camp". August 3, 2018.
  22. Beasley, Adam H.; Jackson, Barry (September 1, 2018). "Brock on! Osweiler earns spot on Dolphins’ 53-man roster". Miami Herald.
  23. Beasley, Adam H.; Jackson, Barry; Salguero, Armando (September 1, 2018). "Live updates: All the players the Miami Dolphins have cut from their roster". Miami Herald.
  24. "Miami Dolphins Make Roster Moves". September 1, 2018.
  25. "Chargers Announce Trio of Roster Moves". September 3, 2018.
  26. Henne, Ricky (September 25, 2018). "Chargers Sign Pair to Practice Squad".
  27. Platte, Kent Lee (January 9, 2019). "Detroit Lions to scout new Alliance of American Football league". Pride of Detroit. SB Nation. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  28. 28.0 28.1 Strickland, Bryan (April 8, 2019). "Panthers sign five players to their 90-man roster". Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  29. Ulrich, Logan (May 13, 2019). "Panthers Waive TE Thomas Duarte".
  30. McFadden, Will (August 24, 2019). "Falcons agree to terms with three players, including kicker Blair Walsh".

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