Duarte (No. 18) with UCLA in 2014
|Date of birth:March 30, 1995|
|Place of birth: Fullerton, California|
|NFL Draft: 2016 / Round: 7 / Pick: 231|
|No regular season or postseason appearances|
|* Miami Dolphins ( 2016– 2017)|
|Roster status: Active|
|Career highlights and awards|
|* Second-team All-Pac-12 (2015)|
Thomas James Duarte (born March 30, 1995) 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.
Duarte was born in Fullerton, California to Timothy and Deborah Duarte. 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.
Duarte returned to tackle football as a high school freshman at Mater Dei High in Santa Ana. 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. He was named Player of the Year by the Los Angeles Times and Offensive Player of the Year by The Orange County Register.
The son of a Mexican-American father and Japanese-American mother, Duarte was one of the rare high-profile college recruits to be of Asian descent. He was rated a four-star prospect and capable of playing tight end, H-back, or wide receiver in college. He decided to attend the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), his mother's alma mater.
Duarte struggled with hamstring injuries during his first two seasons with the Bruins. In his junior year in 2015, he was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection at tight end. 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.
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.
|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|
Duarte was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the seventh round, 231st overall, in the 2016 NFL Draft. On September 3, 2016, he was released by the Dolphins as part of final roster cuts. He was later signed to their practice squad. He was promoted to the active roster on November 5. 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.
On September 2, 2017, Duarte was waived by the Dolphins and was signed to the practice squad the next day. He was promoted to the active roster on December 20 to replace tight end Julius Thomas, who was placed on injured reserve.
During the 2018 offseason, Duarte missed part of the team's training program with a shoulder injury. 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.
Los Angeles Chargers
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- Ulrich, Logan (May 13, 2019). "Panthers Waive TE Thomas Duarte". https://nfltraderumors.co/panthers-waive-te-thomas-duarte/.
- McFadden, Will (August 24, 2019). "Falcons agree to terms with three players, including kicker Blair Walsh". https://www.atlantafalcons.com/news/falcons-agree-to-terms-with-three-players-including-kicker-blair-walsh.