2023 NFL Draft

2023 NFL Draft Player Profiles: West Florida WR David Durden

From now until the 2023 NFL Draft, we will scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top-10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents Today, we’ll be profiling West Florida WR David Durden.

#13/#17 David Durden, WR, West Florida (R-Sr.) — 6014, 204

Pro Day


Player Ht/Wt Hand Size Arm Length Wingspan
David Durden 6014/204 9.5″ 30 3/8″  74.5″
40-Yard Dash 10-Yard Dash Short Shuttle 3-Cone
4.45 1.55 4.21 7.00
Broad Jump Vertical Bench Press
10″7′ 37″ N/A

The Good

— Solid frame that allows him to withstand hits over the middle
— Has the speed to run by any FCS or D2 cornerback
— Showed off body control with plenty of catches on poorly thrown balls
— Is able to play above the rim and wins more contested catch situations than he loses
— Decent YAC threat, who is slippery in the phone booth but also can lower his shoulder and fall forward
— Impressive release package with quick feet
— Fluidly carries speed through his breaks
— Understands how to get open in scramble drill situations, resulted in multiple touchdowns
— Moved all over the field at West Florida: Inside, outside, motion, wildcat QB
— Shows want to as a blocker and could manhandle some smaller CBs
— Has special teams versatility as a return man and a gunner
— Ultra-competitive, alpha mentality

The Bad

— Limited tape against quality competition (UNC is the only FBS school he played while at Mercer 2x)
— Fumbled multiple times in games watched
— Has some focus drops
— Awkward hand positioning at times causes him to fight the football at the catch point
— Has a tendency to play too high, gives up his chest off at the line of scrimmage
— Still raw as a route runner with a limited route tree
— Takes too many steps at the top of his routes
— Accepts being a body catcher too often
— Turns 25 in December
— Missed East-West Shrine game due to wrist injury that required surgery


— 151 catches, 2,969 receiving yards,  19.7 avg., and 32 touchdowns in 42 career games
— 40 career starts in 42 career games
— 2022 First Team All-American
— 2022, 2021 First Team All-GSC (West Florida)
— Season cancelled in 2020 due to COVID
— 2019 First Team All-SoCon Return Specialist (Mercer)
— 2019 Second Team All-SoCon Wide Receiver (Mercer)
— 2018 Honorable Mention Freshman All-American
— Drafted by Boston Red Sox  as in OF in 20th round of 2017 MLB Draft
— Batted .220 (20-for-91) with seven runs & nine RBI in 30 career games for Florida Complex League Red Sox
— Father played baseball at Air Force
— Was featured on ESPN’s “You Got Mossed!” segment in 2020
— Instagram is @soulja.boi17

Tape Breakdown

David Durden’s journey to the NFL has been nothing short of unconventional. Despite not being highly recruited out of high school and receiving just one offer from Mercer University in the FCS, his football career took an unexpected turn when he was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 2017 MLB draft, delaying his commitment to Mercer. However, he eventually retired from baseball and enrolled at Mercer in 2018, where he showcased his talent with two productive seasons, recording 10 total touchdowns and over 1,000 receiving yards.

He made the bold decision to transfer to Division II powerhouse, West Florida, where he faced challenges, including the cancellation of the entire 2020 Division II season due to COVID. Nevertheless, Durden persevered and finally got his chance to shine for the Argonauts. In two seasons, he accumulated an impressive 1,900 yards and 23 touchdowns, earning him a well-deserved First-Team All-American recognition in 2022.

Durden’s path to the NFL may not have been traditional, but his resilience, skill, and versatility have undoubtedly set him apart. If he secures a spot on an NFL roster at the end of this month, it will be a remarkable story.

When it comes to Division II players getting attention from the NFL, it’s typically because they have been dominant at that level, and David Durden is no exception. Durden’s performance on the field often makes him look like a man among boys, showcasing his abilities and surely raising eyebrows among NFL scouts and coaches.

Let’s get into it.

Durden’s standout attributes include his impressive body control and contested-catch ability. He excels in 50/50 ball situations, winning more often than not. In fact, his skills were showcased on ESPN’s “You Got Mossed!” segment in 2020 while he was at Mercer.

Below, is a cutup of some other examples.

He has a solid frame (6014/204) and possesses the necessary functional play strength to fight through contact and come down with contested catches. He also does a nice job at using his 37-inch vertical to high-point passes while getting his feet down in bounds.

Durden’s size and physicality enable him to excel in the middle of the field, where he can absorb hits that are common in that area. Durden showed inside/out versatility while at West Florida and with his body type, there’s nothing that suggests that he can’t do it at the next level.

In the first clip, Durden displays an impressive one-handed catch on a slant route despite taking a hard hit from the safety that causes his helmet to come loose. In the second clip, he showcases his ability to find an opening in the zone and make a catch while absorbing another big hit.

As evident from the end of the clip above, Durden isn’t afraid to show his competitive nature and “alpha” mentality on the field and will get in a guy’s face after a catch. It’s been consistent throughout his career.

The biggest difference between the levels of college football (FBS, FCS, Div II, Div III) is overall speed. So, when you put a guy that has NFL-level speed like Durden, who ran a 4.45 at his Pro Day, it stands out on a Division II football field. He needs more of a runway to build up to top speed, but it’s not something that will hold him back by any means.

Durden’s skill set extends beyond just his speed, as he also demonstrated impressive footwork and release techniques. He has the ability to keep clean on his releases, utilizing his agility and quickness to create separation from defenders. Even when faced with physical press coverage, Durden’s functional strength allows him to effectively move defenders off his path.

His development in this aspect of his game is evident, as he showcased improved footwork and strength during his time at West Florida compared to his earlier days at Mercer.

There are some areas in Durden’s game that require improvement.

One such area is his route running, which can still be considered raw. Despite being moved around frequently at West Florida, he did not run an extensive route tree. Specifically, Durden needs to work on the number of steps he takes to break down at the top of his routes. In Division II, he may have been able to get away with it due to softer coverages and inferior athletes but NFL corners will have ample time to click and close on the routes seen below.

Another area that Durden needs to work on is his tendency to play too high at times. This impacts his ability to smoothly transition in and out of breaks in his routes and also leaves his chest vulnerable at the line of scrimmage. NFL-level cornerbacks will be quick to exploit this, preventing him from gaining separation off the line of scrimmage.

The last area of improvement for Durden is his hand positioning when tracking the ball. At times, he lets the ball get on top of him, resulting in weak hand placement. This can be seen in the drop shown below, where he fails to properly shorten the throw and ends up with suboptimal hand positioning.

To provide more context, it’s worth noting that Durden’s drop rate is relatively low based on the games reviewed. In fact, according to Dane Brugler’s draft guide, Durden was only charted for a total of 4 drops throughout his entire career, so drops are not a significant concern and he has displayed reliable hands overall.

When evaluating prospects who may project as fringe roster players, versatility is key, particularly in the realm of special teams. In this draft class, Durden stands out as one of the most versatile wide receivers when it comes to special teams. His experience in this area is elite, with impressive achievements that include a kick return touchdown, a punt return touchdown, 10 special teams tackles as a gunner, and a blocked field goal.

Durden has been recognized for his special teams prowess by being named First-Team All-SoCon as a returner in 2019 while at Mercer.

Durden’s exceptional abilities as a return man also translate to his skill in creating yards after the catch. He displays elusiveness in tight spaces, making defenders miss with his quick moves. Additionally, Durden’s strength and contact balance allow him to break through arm tackles and gain bonus yardage.

When evaluating wide receivers, one crucial aspect to consider is their ability to block in the run game. In this area, Durden showcases a high level of determination and tenacity. His “alpha” mentality shines through as he actively seeks out opportunities to block and help open up running lanes for his teammates.


David Durden’s journey to the NFL may not have followed a traditional path, but his dominant tape at West Florida is intriguing. With a solid frame, impressive speed, and exceptional contested-catch ability, Durden is a potential hidden gem in this draft class. His willingness to contribute in multiple areas of the game, including blocking and special teams, showcases his versatility and team-first mentality. Despite expected challenges as he transitions to the NFL, including adjusting to the overall speed of the game and unrefined route running, Durden’s potential is evident.

Unfortunately, Durden missed out on the East-West Shrine Game due to a wrist injury, which could have been a valuable opportunity to showcase his skills against more equal competition and helped answer some uncertainties surrounding his game. Ultimately, he likely goes undrafted, but I think he’s worthy of a late-round flier for teams willing to take a chance on raw talent and athletic makeup.

Projection: UDFA

Depot Draft Grade: 6.5 – End of Roster/ Practice Squad (6th Round)

Games Watched: Ferris State (2022), West Georgia (2022), Mississippi College #2 (2022), Shorter (2022), UNC vs. Mercer (2019), Austin Peay vs. Mercer (2019)

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