Eric Decker, six receptions for 106 yards and 1 touchdown. Impressed? No? Understandable. Well what if I said he only caught a ball in 3 games all season? Now the stats look a little better don’t they. His college stats are even more impressive with 21 touchdowns from his sophomore through senior years while averaging nearly 915 yards per season and 13.9 ypc. A guy who ranks 6th in Big Ten history in career receptions and 8th in Big Ten history in career receiving yards. Let’s face it, this man can play receiver in the NFL if given the chance. Well, his chance might just be here.
With Demaryius Thomas in all likelihood out until at least mid season, the odds are in Decker’s favor for these stats to greatly improve even with Eddie Royal at or near 100%. He and Brandon Lloyd should take the oppositions starting corners out of the picture leaving the Nickel and Dime backs for the likes of Decker and/or Jabar Gaffney early in the season. And who knows, maybe Royal won’t even be quite up to form come the start of the season.
Plus, last year he was still a rookie working with a struggling team. He had no real chemistry working with Kyle Orton or Tim Tebow for that matter because in game flow can never be matched even by the most perfect of practices. Rhythms don’t just fall out of the air and make a good quarterback-receiver combo, it’s something that has to be established in games. Give Decker a little time and some work with the starting quarterback, whomever that might be this year (Orton), and watch the chemistry come to life.
The main concern with E.D. is his lack of that breakaway speed that seems to be so crucial in the receiver position. Even if Decker doesn’t have break neck speed to get the separation from some of the NFL’s defensive backs, he has the route running to make up for it. Who cares if Decker can’t run away from a corner if said corner is busy picking himself up off the ground after being fooled by an amazingly sharp cut? I know I wouldn’t as long as the catch was made. And with his 6’3″ frame the man can undoubtedly take a hit, making him an interesting slot receiver prospect. Sure he wouldn’t exactly fit the usual 6 foot or under criteria for such a position, but with his route running skills it becomes an interesting thought to toy with.
Decker also impressed last year with his 22 kick returns for 556 yards averaging just over 25 yds. per attempt. That’s a pretty nice average for a 3rd round pick. While he failed to score, his leading competition has just 1 over three years work, so no real downfall there. While, again, he lacks the breakaway speed of your elite returners of other teams, he appears to have the vision and finesse to get the job done. Even with ball moved up to the 35 this year, the chance is still going to be there to change the field position and ultimately, change the game.
This Thomas injury may just be the open door that someone like Eric Decker needs to become another success story in today’s NFL.
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