Tag:Eric Decker
Posted on: December 2, 2010 1:31 pm
 

Rare BCS "Diamond in the Rough" prospect

I typically try to highlight "small" school prospects for my weekly "Diamond in the Rough."

This week, however, I'm highlighting a prospect from the Big Ten, one of the six automatic qualifying conference for the BCS bowl games.

So how does a Big Ten player qualify as a "Diamond in the Rough."

Well, to start, he plays for Minnesota.

That isn't meant as a slam to the Golden Gophers. They've had their share of highly touted prospects over the years, including wideout Eric Decker (drafted No. 87 overall last year by Denver) and a trio of talented running backs earlier this decade, including current Patriot Lawrence Maroney and Cowboy Marion Barber III.

Still, with Minnesota losing this season to the likes of South Dakota and Northern Illinois on their way to a 3-9 season that got their head coach Tim Brewster fired last month, it is easy to understand why few realize they boast an intriguing NFL prospect -- even if he plays at the game's most important position.

Quarterback Adam Weber is hardly the NFL prototype at 6-1, 221 pounds.

As he demonstrated in Minnesota's upset win over Iowa Saturday, however, Weber possesses the moxie, mobility and short to medium range accuracy to potentially surprise at the pro level.

Weber wasn't spectacular against the Hawkeyes. He completed 13 of 25 passes for 164 yards and no touchdowns in the 27-24 victory.

What scouts like, however, is how he handles the game. Having started all 50 games of his career, Weber is rarely surprised by defenses and does a nice job of anticipating the action. On numerous occasions against the Hawkeyes, Weber would push the safety to one corner of the field with his eyes before dumping the ball off in the other direction. He did the same as a runner, picking up gains of 20 and 13 in the first half to pick up first downs when the defense was keying on his receivers.

Weber appears capable of making every NFL throw, though he doesn't own a howitzer. A few of his passes fluttered in the cold wind Saturday, but often this was the result of poor technique by Weber. He has a tendency to throw flat-footed, a correctable flaw that will add velocity to his throws.

Weber made some flashy throws last year that jumped off the film when I was scouting Decker. He's been one of the few bright spots on a struggling Minnesota team this season.

Scouts certainly know of him.

They should, considering that he ranks behind only one other quarterback in Big Ten history for most career yards gained from scrimmage.

Due to a lack of preferred height, some questioned whether he'd make in the NFL.

Drew Brees has done fine since leaving Purdue, wouldn't you say?

I'm certainly not forecasting that Weber will be the No. 32 pick of the draft (as Brees was) or earn Super Bowl MVP honors. He is, however, a legitimate prospect who hasn't garnered much national media attention. He might when he makes an NFL roster.
Posted on: August 8, 2010 1:39 pm
 

Rookie WRs Thomas, Decker latest Broncos hurt

The Denver Broncos continue to be one of the league's hardest hit teams this year in terms of players injuries. With star pass rusher Elvis Dumervil having already been knocked out for the year with a torn pectoral muscle. The Broncos are hopeful that former first round picks Jarvis Moss and Robert Ayers can pick up the slack after Dumervil, who led the league last season with 17 sacks, was injured, but it will take a monumental effort from the two thus-far disappointing pass rushers to complete the job. Moss promptly broke his hand and is expected to miss at least a couple of weeks of training camp. Ayers is healthy, though he and Moss were each healthy last year, as well, and neither contributed a single sack for the Broncos' defense.

The Broncos are hopeful that two of their 2010 draft picks are able to make a quicker transition to the NFL on the offensive side of the ball, but first and third round receivers, DeMaryius Thomas and Eric Decker now have injury problems of their own to worry about.

Thomas injured his left foot -- the same foot he fractured in a pre-Combine workout that kept him from fully working out for scouts prior to the draft -- in leaping to snatch his second touchdown in Denver's scrimmage last night in front of 20,782 fans at Invesco Field at Mile High.

According to Jeff Legwold of the Denver Post, the team believed the injury to be the result of scar-tissue created by Thomas' previous injury and subsequent surgery. Thomas' injury will be further evaluated by the team today.

Considering his team's rash of injuries this year and Thomas' past, Denver head coach Josh McDaniels was understandably concerned and cautiously optimistic regarding Thomas' injury when addressing the media after last night's practice.

"
It obviously was a concern right away," McDaniels said. "Yes, that was a concern because it was the same foot, but hopefully if we miss him for a little while, it would be normal for this camp."

Decker's injury could prove to be even worse than Thomas'.

Decker suffered a left foot sprain during the practice, but when team doctors gave Decker an MRI last night they discovered a pre-existing left ankle sprain, as well , according to a report from Josina Anderson of Fox 31 and KDVR.com.

Like Thomas' apparent re-aggravation of a left foot injury, the concern with Decker is that the foot and ankle sprain is complicated due to the fact that the former Golden Gopher star had his collegiate career end prematurely due to a Lisfranc sprain -- one of the more dreaded injuries in football due to its delicate and often time-consuming rehabilitation.

Previous to the injuries, Thomas and Decker had reportedly been quite impressive in practice. Thomas had struggled early, but the 6-3, 224 pound receiver had begun to dazzle onlookers with the leaping ability and rare straight-line speed that allowed him to average an eye-popping 19.49 yards per reception and score 14 touchdowns over his career at Georgia Tech. Decker, 6-2, 215, flashed the soft, reliable hands and surprising body control to make the tough catch he'd consistently shown while catching 228 passes for 3,119 yards and 24 touchdowns for Minnesota.  

The loss of Thomas and/or Decker for any significant time this season could give Denver a second consecutive year with limited output from their rookie class. While the Broncos "other" first round selection -- some guy named Tebow -- looked good in throwing for a touchdown and running for another in Saturday night's scrimmage, he isn't expected to see the field much with Kyle Orton firmly entrenched as the Broncos' starting quarterback.

Last year, despite again having two first round picks, the Broncos received surprisngly little help from their rookie class. Running back Knowshon Moreno was an obvious exception, leading the team with 247 rushing attempts for 947 yards and seven touchdowns -- though he averaged a dismal 3.8 yards per carry. Ayers, selected with the No. 18 overall pick, recorded 19 tackles and zero sacks for the Broncos as a rookie. The Broncos received similar production last year from their three second selections. Cornerback Alphonso Smith, taken 37th overall, recorded 14 tackles. Safety Darcel McBath, taken with the No. 48 pick, led all Denver rookies with 26 tackles. Tight end Richard Quinn, the final pick of the second round, caught zero passes for the Broncos. He recorded two tackles and returned one kick 19 yards while playing special teams in 15 games.
Posted on: April 23, 2010 4:16 pm
 

Five bold predictions for the second/third round

As anticipated, I hit a few and missed a few in my initial Bold Predictions for the 2010 draft. I tried to limit my predictions to the first round for that article.

Here are five bold predictions for Friday's second and third rounds.

Colt McCoy will be drafted ahead of Jimmy Clausen too.
I've spoken to a variety of league sources on Clausen and the consensus on his fall is that his personality had something to do with it, but more than anything else was the belief that he's been groomed for so long that he offers very little upside. Essentially, he's as good right now as he's ever going to be. The same can not be said for Tim Tebow and, some believe for Colt McCoy. McCoy's intangibles are so good, in fact, that some believe the Bills and Browns will enter a bidding war for the services of the former Longhorn quarterback. Rather than wait for him with their respective second round picks, one of these two clubs might trade with St. Louis for 33rd overall.

Lots of trades.
If you thought there were a lot of trades yesterday (seven), I'm told there could be considerably more today. I woke up this morning planning on writing a second round mock draft, but in contacting sources to prepare, was told to "not bother" with the working out the team-player fits because there could be "lots of action." Instead, I've been told to just stick with the best players available, as they "should go quick." There are several clubs with various picks eager to take advantage of this year's unique depth. From watching how animated Seattle head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider were yesterday in their press conference, I'd be surprised if they don't make more than just the one pick they currently have (60th overall).

Expect quite a run on wide receivers.
As most projected, there were two wide receivers drafted in the first round. However, in speaking with different teams, I've come up with 11 wideouts that have been given second round grades by at least one team. Names to keep in mind are: Golden Tate, Eric Decker, Damian Williams, Arrelious Benn, Mardy Gilyard, Carlton Mitchell, Brandon LaFell, Jordan Shipley, Taylor Price, Dexter McCluster and Marcus Easley.

Big name SEC player surprises.
A year ago Greg Hardy, Brandon Spikes, Terrence Cody and Carlos Dunlap were considered by some to be a lock for the first round. Now, there are some who believe all four will drop to Saturday's rounds 4-7. I don't see that happening. Too much good tape and/or athletic potential for these guys to slip that far. Expect to see at least two of them come off the board in the second round, and all four by the end of the night.

Rob Gronkowski ends up either in Baltimore or New England
There are some teams that rated Rob Gronkowski as the top tight end in this class. I've been told the Ravens, who have a need for the position based on the durability struggles of Todd Heap, are among them. The Patriots also have a very high grade on the former Wildcat. Gronkowski lacks Jermaine Gresham's game-speed, but is a better all-around player and a significantly better blocker.




Posted on: April 23, 2010 4:15 pm
 

Five bold predictions for the second/third round

As anticipated, I hit a few and missed a few in my initial Bold Predictions for the 2010 draft. I tried to limit my predictions to the first round for that article.

Here are five bold predictions for Friday's second and third rounds.

Colt McCoy will be drafted ahead of Jimmy Clausen too.
I've spoken to a variety of league sources on Clausen and the consensus on his fall is that his personality had something to do with it, but more than anything else was the belief that he's been groomed for so long that he offers very little upside. Essentially, he's as good right now as he's ever going to be. The same can not be said for Tim Tebow and, some believe for Colt McCoy. McCoy's intangibles are so good, in fact, that some believe the Bills and Browns will enter a bidding war for the services of the former Longhorn quarterback. Rather than wait for him with their respective second round picks, one of these two clubs might trade with St. Louis for 33rd overall.

Lots of trades.
If you thought there were a lot of trades yesterday (seven), I'm told there could be considerably more today. I woke up this morning planning on writing a second round mock draft, but in contacting sources to prepare, was told to "not bother" with the working out the team-player fits because there could be "lots of action." Instead, I've been told to just stick with the best players available, as they "should go quick." There are several clubs with various picks eager to take advantage of this year's unique depth. From watching how animated Seattle head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider were yesterday in their press conference, I'd be surprised if they don't make more than just the one pick they currently have (60th overall).

Expect quite a run on wide receivers.
As most projected, there were two wide receivers drafted in the first round. However, in speaking with different teams, I've come up with 11 wideouts that have been given second round grades by at least one team. Names to keep in mind are: Golden Tate, Eric Decker, Damian Williams, Arrelious Benn, Mardy Gilyard, Carlton Mitchell, Brandon LaFell, Jordan Shipley, Taylor Price, Dexter McCluster and Marcus Easley.

Big name SEC player surprises.
A year ago Greg Hardy, Brandon Spikes, Terrence Cody and Carlos Dunlap were considered by some to be a lock for the first round. Now, there are some who believe all four will drop to Saturday's rounds 4-7. I don't see that happening. Too much good tape and/or athletic potential for these guys to slip that far. Expect to see at least two of them come off the board in the second round, and all four by the end of the night.

Rob Gronkowski ends up either in Baltimore or New England
There are some teams that rated Rob Gronkowski as the top tight end in this class. I've been told the Ravens, who have a need for the position based on the durability struggles of Todd Heap, are among them. The Patriots also have a very high grade on the former Wildcat. Gronkowski lacks Jermaine Gresham's game-speed, but is a better all-around player and a significantly better blocker.



Posted on: April 21, 2010 10:36 pm
Edited on: April 21, 2010 10:37 pm
 

First Round Stunners, Part Two

My fellow senior analyst Chad Reuter and I wrote up five bold predictions each in articles here and here .

Like Chad, I elected to push the boundary with the definition of "bold," predicting a trade with the first pick among other things. I fully recognize that the Rams aren't likely to make this trade. I've spoken to enough people in the league, however, that caused me to feel there was a reasonable enough chance of it occurring that I listed it.

Last year , I went out on a limb and predicted that Tyson Jackson, not Aaron Curry, would be the first defensive player selected and that Andre Smith would be a top ten pick. Chad had the even better bold (and true) prediction, picking the Raiders to take Darrius Heyward-Bey at No. 7.

We were ridiculed at the time for our picks and some ended up not happening. A few, however, ended up being true. I don't anticipate either of us getting all five of our predictions correct this time either, but would be disappointed if we don't pull off at least a few of them.

Because these predictions are such conversation-starters, I thought I'd include a few more that I considered using in the original article.


  • In the "do as I say, not as I've done" department, watch out for Georgia Tech wideout Demaryius Thomas to jump way up in this draft. Some teams, in fact, have him rated higher than Dez Bryant -- and that isn't just due to Bryant's so-called character concerns. I mention the "do as I say" aspect as I don't have Bryant listed on my 4/19 mock draft. After conversations with a few more team sources over these past few days, however, I've been lectured enough to change my thinking on this kid and will certainly be moving him up for the final mock I'm finishing tonight (available Thursday morning). I've acknowledged his dazzling physical upside in the past, but what I hadn't realized is how impressive "Bay-Bay" has done in interviews. The perception might be that Thomas isn't pro-ready due to his time in such a run-heavy offense, but he has dazzled teams in interviews with his on and off-field intelligence. Considering he scored a 34 on the Wonderlic -- second best among all WRs (Eric Decker had a 43) -- perhaps this shouldn't have surprised me (34 on the Wonderlic; second best among WRs), but I admit, it did. I'd still be a bit surprised if he jumped ahead of Bryant, but I'd certainly no longer be stunned.  
  • With all due respect to Mr. Mel Kiper, Jr., Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen absolutely remains in play for the Seattle Seahawks. I don't feel strongly enough to have included it among my original bold predictions, but I would not be the least bit surprised if Pete Carroll took Clausen. He knows him well; much better than he knew Charlie Whitehurst before making the trade for him. He couldn't have. Whitehurst hasn't played. If Seattle was willing to gamble picks on a quarterback they couldn't possibly have known as well as Carroll knows Clausen just to solidify the position, they could do it again. Consider that if Seattle hadn't traded for Whitehurst and given him millions, many would be assuming at this point that Seattle would be strongly considering the former USC recruit. Because of that deal, most aren't. I'm not sure that is a safe assumption.
  • I believe center Maurkice Pouncey is being heavily considered by the Denver Broncos. They own the 11th pick and I can't imagine them taking him there, but they can't afford to trade down too far if they want to get him, as there are several teams in the mid to late teens who love Pouncey. There is a bigger dropoff between Pouncey and the No. 2 rated center (either Baylor's J.D. Walton or Boston College's Matt Tennant, depending on the team) than between the top-rated and second-best prospect at any other position in this draft. To put it into perspective how rare taking a true center in the top half of the draft is, note that the last time it happened was 1993 when the Cleveland Browns selected Steve Everitt from Michigan with the 14th overall pick.



Posted on: March 11, 2010 1:21 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2010 1:27 pm
 

OLB Lawerence, WR Decker impress at Minn. Pro Day

NFL Draft enthusiasts should know all about Minnesota wide receiver Eric Decker by now. The 6-3, 217 pound Decker was a Biletnikof finalist in 2008 with 83 catches for 1,077 yards and 7 touchdowns. Despite being limited to only eight games due to Lisfranc sprain, he earned first team all-Big Ten honors for the second consecutive season as a senior.

The Lisfranc sprain kept Decker from working out for scouts at the Combine and also kept him from participating in the drills at Minnesota's Pro Day Wednesday. Decker will have follow-up surgery to have screws removed from his foot on Monday (March 15) and will be asked to go back to Indianapolis April 9 for a Combine "re-check."
 
Scouts know Decker can play. They want to make sure he's healthy, after repeated surgeries on his legs.

He did, however, help his cause in the bench press (19 reps) and was, as always, articulate in team and media interviews. I've been told that he had the year's highest score on the Wonderlic of all players tested at the Combine and I'm not at all surprised by this.

While Decker is certainly a known commodity, his former teammate, outside linebacker Simoni Lawrence is proving he's one to watch. I listed Lawrence as a player I thought might surprise at the Combine and he certainly did so -- ranking among the elite linebackers in the 40-yard dash (4.68), vertical (40") and broad jump (10'3").

Lawrence was even better Wednesday, clocking in at 4.56 seconds -- which would have been tied Florida State's Dekoda Watson with second fastest time recorded by any linebacker at the Combine.  Mississippi State's Jamar Chaney, a 242 pound inside linebacker, was timed at a staggering 4.52 seconds in Indianapolis.




Posted on: February 28, 2010 11:47 am
 

Impressions from first QB-WR session -- WR Report

I was among the fortunate handful of media members allowed to venture inside Lucas Oil Stadium to watch this morning's quarterback and wide receivers workouts. Because I have to head back out to cover the second session in just a few moments, I don't have enough to time to really break down the 20+ players I watched.

However, here were my impressions of a few noteworthy receivers.

The highest rated receiver of this bunch is Illinois' Arrelious Benn, but today was not an impressive one for him. Benn struggled with his footwork today, slipping on multiple occasions on the Lucas Oil Stadium turf. He also struggled catching the ball, dropping a few passes during the gauntlet drill and while running routes. He looked particularly bad by having a hot, but accurate pass go right through his hands on during the gauntlet and subsequently dropping another one by turning his hands the wrong way when attempting to catch a poorly thrown post-corner route. Benn did not look overly explosive, though his strong frame is sure to intrigue scouts.

The most consistently impressive catcher on this day was another junior, Kansas' Dezmon Briscoe. Briscoe's long arms and good body control was often on display, as he was able to adjust to several poorly thrown passes and make sparking receptions. He doesn't appear to be the quickest receiver out of his breaks, but his long strides help him generate good speed down the sidelines.

Cal's Ryan Boateng was a surprise early star during the session, looking fluid during drills and catching everything in sight. He caught the ball with his hands and adjusted smoothly to poorly thrown balls -- an impressive feat considering his 6-1, 204 pound frame. Boateng struggled a bit later, failing to adjust adequately to deep balls, which will be a concern. Otherwise, he was one of the session's more impressive performers.

Florida's Riley Cooper was a bit inconsistent with his routes and hands on this day. He is more explosive than some give him credit for, but certainly doesn't have elite burst out of his breaks. He caught most passes with his hands, but didn't show great flexibility or determination to adjust to poorly thrown balls, too often just putting one hand up to attempt to make the sparkling reception. On one occasion he made a nice grab by doing so; on another he dropped it.

LSU return specialist Trindon Holliday was a surprise addition to the receiver workouts. His speed is certainly intriguing, but he dropped a few passes, including a bad on a deep ball that floated right into -- and through -- his hands.

Wide receivers who worked out this morning were: Fresno State's Seyi Ajirotutu, West Virginia's Alec Arnett, Kansas State's Brandon Banks, Norfolk State's Chris Bell, Illinois' Arrelious Benn, Cal's Ryan Boateng, Kansas' Dezmon Briscoe, Central Michigan Antonio Brown, Cal-Davis' Chris Carter, Florida's Riley Cooper, Connecticut's Marcus Easley, Clemson's Jacoby Ford, Wake Forest's David Gettis, Cincinnati's Mardy Gilyard, Mississippi's Shay Hodge, Florida's Brandon James, Youngstown State's Donald Jones, San Jose State's Kevin Jurovich.

Due to injury, Missouri's Danario Alexander, Oklahoma State's Dez Bryant and Minnesota's Eric Decker did not work out this morning.
Posted on: September 19, 2009 1:10 pm
 

Minn WR Eric Decker as advertised with TD

One of the key matchups I'm watching this week is between 6-3, 215 pound wideout Eric Decker of Minnesota against 5-09, 191 pound Cal cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson.

I've been admittedly lower on Decker than some, but may need to adjust my thinking after watching the first few moments of this game. While I still question his speed and elusiveness in the open field, with his size, Decker's game translates well to the next level as a possession receiver.

Over the past few years the term possession receiver has, for whatever reason, taken on a negative connotation. While they may lack the gamebreaking ability of speedier threats, a good possession receiver is invaluable to his offense.

This is exactly what Decker showed in snaring a touchdown in the first quarter to close the gap against Cal to 14-7. The Gophers desperately needed a score after surrendering two early touchdown runs to the spectacular Jahvid Best. Though Syd'Quan Thompson has lined up against Decker for some of this game, Decker's score came against the other starting Golden Bear corner, Darian Hagan (6-0, 186).

Decker gained a free release from Hagan and slipped past him down the sideline. He contorted his body in space to make an impressive catch while absorbing a monster hit (but clean) the safety. The hit came high into the chest plate and drew blood from Decker's chin, but he hung on for the score.

Decker was knocked out of the game for a few moments, but was back on the field (running a reverse and WR pass) on the next Golden Gopher possession.  
 
 
 
 
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