The Jets recently traded tight end Daniel Brown to the Chiefs in exchange for offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. Today, we break down Duvernay-Tardif in detail.
The 30-year old Duvernay-Tardif is listed at 6’5” and 321 pounds and was a sixth round pick out of McGill in 2014. He’s started 57 games with the Chiefs, as he was a full-time starter from 2015 to 2019. However, he hasn’t played since then.
Duvernay-Tardif grew up in Montreal and was recruited to McGill as a 253-pound defensive lineman. In college, he developed into a solid left tackle and was voted as a two-time all-Canadian and the winner of the JP Metras Trophy for the best lineman in Canadian football at the collegiate level.
He achieved this despite the fact he was only practicing once a week because he was also studying for a medical degree.
Duvernay-Tardif wasn’t invited to the scouting combine but raised his NFL draft stock with a solid performance in the East-West Shrine Game. He then held a personal pro day and some teams showed interest, although others felt that he couldn’t be fully committed while also trying to become a doctor.
The Chiefs eventually drafted him in the sixth round, although he didn’t play as a rookie. They stashed him on the roster while he got used to the rule differences south of the border and honed his technique.
In 2015, he made his NFL debut as he started the opener and then also started the next two before coming off the bench for the three games after that. However, he started the last 10 games and was a full time starter from then until he decided to opt out of the 2020 season.
He returned to the Chiefs this year, only to break a bone in his hand that meant he missed all of preseason. Although he was healthy at the start of the year, the Chiefs had by then set their starting lineup without him, so he was a healthy scratch until being active (but not playing) for the last game before the deadline.
The Jets made the trade at the trade deadline, having reportedly been in discussions for three weeks.
Now let’s take a look at what Duvernay-Tardif brings to the table, divided into categories.
Duvernay-Tardif has decent size, but his length is slightly below average for the tackle position, so it’s not surprising that he moved inside at the NFL level.
He posted good numbers across the board at his personal pro day, including a 5.08 in the 40-yard dash and 34 bench press reps.
As noted, Duvernay-Tardif was a left tackle in college, but has played right guard since being drafted. The only exception to this was that he also got some reps at left guard in preseason during his first two seasons.
After a rocky start, Duvernay-Tardif has some good numbers in pass protection. He gave up four sacks in his first five starts but then settled down and only gave up two sacks in his next 40 starts covering parts of four seasons.
He gave up three sacks in 2019, although one of these was in the postseason. His pressure rates have generally been acceptable as well.
Duvernay-Tardif shows on this play how hard he will work to stay in front of his man reacting to counter-moves and keeping control.
DeForest Buckner beats him on this play though, making a sharp inside move as Duvernay-Tardif steps across and can’t recover back to the inside.
Duvernay-Tardif generally anchors well against a bull-rush, but sometimes allows his man to get under his pads and drive him back.
Duvernay-Tardif shows some good abilities as a run blocker, both on the move and at the point of attack. On this play, he pulls left and makes a big block to open up a lane for a long touchdown run.
On this play, it’s initially a combo block but then the center peels off and Duvernay-Tardif controls his man, driving him back and to the ground.
He also excels at peeling off to the second level and finding a target in space and slowing down his man while flowing laterally on outside stretch plays. He also has a good understanding of angles and plays to the whistle.
The main areas of weakness are that he can be stood up initially at the snap, can lunge after blocks in space and sometimes allows his man to fight off his block late in the play.
The Chiefs have had some good success from the goal line in recent years and would often run behind Duvernay-Tardif as they did here.
The Chiefs offense uses the screen pass in a variety of creative ways and Duvernay-Tardif contributes well to these. Here’s a play where his block is at the point of attack for a tight end screen up the middle.
On this more conventional screen, Duvernay-Tardif leaks out and makes the block in space. He then hustled downfield to try and shove the running back across the goal line.
The book on Duvernay-Tardif when he first entered the league was that his technique was some a little raw. However, he’s worked at this over the course of his career.
Duvernay-Tardif is well-balanced and has good feet, which he’ll keep driving when engaged with a defender. In terms of hand techniques, he has a good initial punch but can sometimes be slow to reset his hand placement, leading to a loss of leverage.
Here’s a play where he allows his man to get the first strike in, which rocks him back and opens him up to the jerk move for a clean beat.
Duvernay-Tardif has been remarkably consistent in terms of his on-field discipline with either five or six penalties in all of his five seasons as a starter. However, in 2018, he had five despite playing only five games.
He’s had 12 holding penalties, 10 false starts, three penalties for illegal use of the hands and two penalties for being an illegal man downfield on a pass.
With his aggressive style, Duvernay-Tardif could easily attract more penalties, especially when he’s taking his man to the ground semi-regularly. However, he does a good job of keeping his hands inside to avoid getting a call even when he has a handful of jersey.
Over the course of his career, Duvernay-Tardif’s only contributions to special teams have been as a blocker on the placekicking unit. However, he saw some brief action as a blocker on the return unit in preseason early on in his career.
Duvernay-Tardif can claim to be one of the most intelligent players in NFL history. He’s a qualified doctor and is working toward a master’s degree having enrolled at Harvard during the pandemic. This translates to his football IQ and on-field smarts.
Early in his career, however, he had serious issues anticipating and reacting to stunts. This led to multiple sacks.
He has worked at this though and became a lot better at it after his first year as a starter. Since that time, he’s been more reliable in such situations.
You’ll often see him quickly moving off one assignment and onto another and he’s good at finding his target as a blocker.
Duvernay-Tardif made a big sacrifice when he opted out of the 2020 season to help out with the fight against Covid-19. He was voted as Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year as a result and he’s also been involved with many community-based and charitable programs over the years.
On the field, however, he has an aggressive temperament and will stay on his block through the whistle and away from the ball. Even so, he’s never been called for a personal foul.
He’s impressed coaches with his toughness to play through injuries and with the fact that he was able to balance training for the NFL with his medical studies.
Duvernay-Tardif has had a series of injuries over the course of his career. He played every game in 2015, but hasn’t started more than 14 in any regular season.
His most serious injury was a fractured fibula, which landed him on injured reserve five games into the 2018 season. He was initially expected to return later in the year but it proved to be more serious than first thought. He returned to the active roster in the postseason but did not play.
Duvernay-Tardif also had a high ankle sprain in 2016, missed four games with a knee injury in 2017 and had another ankle injury that cost him some time in 2019. He’s also had two concussions and an elbow injury, along with the broken hand he suffered this year in camp.
In his senior year of college, he was dealing with a torn labrum in his shoulder but played through it.
The Jets have been in contact with Duvernay-Tardif over the past month and must feel he will fit well into their system. He’s proven to be solid in pass protection and a capable run blocker in both man and zone schemes.
He is presumably going to push Greg Van Roten for playing time and maybe the starting role at the right guard position.
He has been a former teammate of current Jets defensive end Tim Ward while with the Chiefs.
To give a sense of how good Duvernay-Tardif is, he signed a contract for $8.4 million per year in 2017, just after Brian Winters had signed a deal worth $7.25 million with the Jets. So, he was regarded as a notch above Winters.
Having said that, the Chiefs renegotiated his deal downwards and knocked a year off after the 2019 season, so he’ll now be a free agent at the end of the year and his earnings are now at a similar level to those of Van Roten.
Many Jets fans have been extremely critical of Van Roten and might assume Duvernay-Tardif is an immediate upgrade. However, the offensive line as a group have played well and Van Roten has, for the most part, settled down after a rocky start.
This move could be seen as similar to the one that brought in Pat Elflein last year. It gives the Jets a chance to have a look at a potential starter for the following year and the inside track at re-signing him. Duvernay-Tardif is probably better than Elflein at this stage of their careers, but the fact he hasn’t played since 2019 makes this uncertain.
It will be interesting to see if the Jets give Duvernay-Tardif some playing time so he has the chance to prove he still has something left in the tank. At worst, it’s a low cost move for a player with a Super Bowl winning pedigree that brings leadership and depth to the line.