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William Dunkle: A UDFA Signing Steal

I have been beating the proverbial table for William Dunkle.

We at Fly Eagles Nation had him in two mock drafts for the Philadelphia Eagles as a seventh-round selection. I was so enamored with his potential I picked him twice. He was picked in our second and fourth seven-round mock drafts with the final pick in both.

Although not a household name yet, the Eagles certainly hope he will be. Let’s explore the prospect.

Production

Dunkle’s production at San Diego State was terrific. The Aztec star had a staggering 98.8 PFF run-blocking grade in 2021. This tantalizing upside was too much to pass up for the Eagles, who were able to sign him as an undrafted free agent shortly after the NFL Draft.

Per PFF data, Dunkle did not give up a single sack in his last three seasons. The San Diego State Aztec allowed only one quarterback hit and nine hurries in 919 snaps. His overall PFF blocking grade was a whopping 95.2 in 2021, up from another productive 88.7 in 2020.

Whether his outstanding production during his collegiate career will translate to the NFL remains to be seen.

Physical Traits

Dunkle has some real NFL caliber potential. He has solid size for an interior lineman at a stout 6’5″, 328 lbs. There is limited tape on him, but I closely studied San Diego State’s games against San Jose State and Utah State to get a look at his tendencies and traits. He certainly flashed some sensational abilities that will definitely be effective in the NFL with the right development.

Dunkle is nasty. He is an explosive blocker, with a zest for contact and insatiable hunger to finish defenders. The San Diego State scheme relied heavily on Dunkle being in space and getting to the second level. It is not hyperbole to say that his speed in getting there was elite. He was surprisingly fluid and played with incredible quickness.

Furthermore, his leg drive was extremely strong. He moved defenders consistently in the run game. His ferocity was evident in space, as the Aztecs utilized his skillset to pull him and use him as a lead blocker. It was clear that he was the central piece of San Diego State’s rushing attack.

There were instances where Dunkle would simply throw defenders with his initial punch. In each instance he would immediately look around for additional work and opponents to block. The excitement generated by his willingness to work was simply delightful to watch. Dunkle’s unrelenting physicality exuded from his play, as his style personified the concept of run-blocking dominance.

This set of physical tools will be highly valued by the Eagles as they seek to develop Dunkle into a run game bulldozer.

Shortcomings And Areas Of Development

Conversely, Dunkle has glaring weaknesses to improve upon.

In pass protection, the San Diego State product requires further development. Although he did not concede a sack, he often struggled with his technique and some poor habits.

Firstly, Dunkle seemed extremely lost in almost all passing sets. He frequently followed a sluggish first step with an inability to engage with a defender. As a result, he would look around, with no hands on a pass rusher, for someone to block. His willingness to work was encouraging and often led him to assist in a teammate’s block. However, his angles were often not effective due to arriving to the engagement late.

Secondly, Dunkle struggled with patience at times in the run game. He had a troublesome tendency to completely whiff on blocks in space. His attempts to engage with faster linebackers and safeties ended in flailing arms more often than is comfortable. While that can be expected on occasion, it seemed he struggled to take advantageous angles, limiting his ability to engage.

Finally, Dunkle must have better hand placement. He often grabbed and wrapped defenders, which was not caught by referees. However, watching him closely, this can offer the greatest area of improvement for the San Diego State product. Developing his hand placement through his initial punch and recovery will lead to a drastic improvement in his overall play.

Mitigating these weaknesses will enable Dunkle the best opportunity to shine at the professional level.

The Best-Case Scenario

Philadelphia is an ideal landing spot for William Dunkle. With the mentorship of elite veteran offensive linemen like Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson, the San Diego State prospect can maximize his potential. Developing under their tutelage can maximize the ceiling that his athletic traits give him.

While he has significant deficiencies, I would argue that the Eagles got a player that has above average potential. This type of upside is rare for a prospect that outlasts the NFL Draft. In this context, he makes perfect sense as a developmental prospect that can earn snaps depending on his improvement. He also happens to benefit greatly from a franchise that historically invests significantly in the offensive line and its continued development.

Dunkle personifies the Philly toughness that we love in our Eagles. Let’s hope that the coaching staff and veteran leadership can bring out the best in him and he be the next UDFA gem.

Let us know in the comments below if you think Dunkle can be a starting guard in the NFL.

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