2015 NFL DRAFT
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Eric Decker

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 217 | College: Minnesota
 
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Overview

A two-sport standout, Decker has been compared by professional scouts to former NFL greats Don Maynard of the Jets and Raymond Berry of the Baltimore Colts for his outstanding hands, route-running ability and fearlessness going for the ball in a crowd. He's also an excellent blocker with a team-first attitude.

Few receivers boast the Velcro-like hands Decker possesses. Minnesota quarterbacks have targeted him for 354 passes during his career and he dropped just three in 45 games (0.085%). But, it is his ability to get to the simply impossible throws and what he does once he gets the ball in his hands that separate him from the rest of the pack.

The school's first athlete to catch more than 200 passes in a career (227), his receptions rank sixth in Big Ten Conference history. He produced first downs on 70.48% of his receptions (160-of-227), with 22.03% of those grabs converting third-down plays (50). When the Gophers need to move the chains, they know they can always rely upon their star player, as 55.51% of his catches were good for at least 10 yards (126), including 25.99% of his receptions gaining 20 or more yards (59).

Decker was the first player in school history to gain over 3,000 yards receiving, his total of 3,119 yards rank eighth in Big Ten Conference history, as he is just the 11th league performer to amass over 3,000 yards. That yardage total accounted for 42.77% of the team's total (7,292) since Decker moved into the starting lineup for the Gophers.

Blessed with great athletic ability, Decker is the type of receiver that can punish a defender, rather than receive punishment. He astounds coaches and teammates from the way he instantly bounces back from bone-jarring hits, evident by his recent performance early in the 2009 California game.

Decker made a sensational touchdown catch, only to take a shot from an opponent who led with his helmet, resulting in Decker getting stitches under his chin. He refused to leave the game. Prior to the injury, he had one catch for four yards. By the end of the game, his totals were eight receptions for 119 yards and two scores.

Decker caught at least one pass in 34 consecutive games (tied Tutu Atwell for second on the school record chart), produced 10 100-yard receiving performances, including four in his first five 2009 contests and caught at least 10 passes in four games.

Decker is the school's all-time leading receiver with 227 grabs, but also holds the top two spots on their season-record list, hauling in 67 passes as a sophomore, only to break that mark with 84 receptions in 2008. His thirteen catches vs. Indiana in 2008 set the school game-record and his twelve grabs vs. Florida Atlantic that year rank third. He is the only player in school annals to have caught more than ten passes in a game four times in a career. His twelve 100-yard receiving games also established a Gophers record.

Decker's 3,119 yards receiving placed him first on the Gophers' career-record list. He is one of only four Minnesota players to gain over 1,000 yards in a season, as his 1,074 yards in 2008 is the second-highest total in school history. His 180 yards vs. Indiana in 2008 rank third on the team's game-record chart, with his 183 yards in the 2009 season opener vs. Syracuse ranking seventh on that list.

Those 183 yards, coupled with his 149 yards vs. Kansas in the 2008 Insight Bowl gave Decker a consecutive game total of 332 yards. The only player to gain more yardage in back-to-back games for the Gophers was Ron Johnson's 340 total (163 at Ohio State and 177 at Indiana in 2000).

If those numbers were not enough to convince professional teams of his receiving pedigree, Decker has also contributed in other ways to the recent success of the team. He is a punishing ballcarrier, having averaged 7.6 yards with one touchdown (also set up five other scoring drives) on just 15 rushing attempts for 114 yards. He has filled in as an emergency punt returner, averaging 7.0 yards in that capacity.

Decker has also performed as a defensive back, on the punt coverage team and also showed impressive tackling ability chasing down opposing defenders after they had picked off a Minnesota pass. He has ten solo tackles with one stop for a 2-yard loss, two fumble recoveries and a pair of pass deflections to add to his resume.

The multi-talented athlete has averaged 13.26 yards each time he has touched the ball on the football field for Minnesota. He also played a vital role on the school's baseball team. As a sophomore, he batted .329 with 42 runs, three home runs, 28 runs batted in, nine stolen bases and boasted a .439 on-base percentage.

Decker was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft, becoming just the third Gopher to play football and be drafted in baseball since 1966. As a junior, he hit four home runs with 25 runs batted in, finishing with a .319 batting average and a .381 on-base percentage, as he was again drafted, this time by Minnesota in the 2009 selection process.

Showing off his all-around athletic ability is commonplace for Decker. At Rocori High School, he starred in football, baseball and basketball, in addition to excelling in the class-room, earning All-State Academic Team and National Honor Society recognition. On the gridiron, he was named to Super Prep's All-Midwest team, as that recruiting service rated him the 14th-best receiver in the country.

The Prep Star All-Midwest Region pick added All-State first-team honors from the Associated Press in each of his final two seasons. He was also a two-time All-Central Lakes League, All-Conference, All-Area and All-Section choice. The two-time team MVP snatched 62 passes for 1,017 yards and fifteen touchdowns, as he was one of just two players to gain over 1,000 receiving yards in the state on Minnesota in 2004.

Decker closed out his football career with 2,156 yards and 28 touchdowns receiving for head coach Rick Thiesen. He added to his trophy case by capturing All-Conference, All-Area and All-Section accolades in both baseball (as an outfielder) and basketball.

In 2005, Decker enrolled at the University of Minnesota, spending the campaign performing on the scout team. The following season, he played in all 13 games, starting twice as a slot receiver for the Gophers. He was named to the Big Ten Conference Academic Team, along with receiving school academic honors. He also added Freshman All-Big Ten honors (Gridiron Report), as he participated in 480 plays. He finished fourth on the team with 26 receptions for 378 yards (14.5-yard average) and three touchdowns. He also rushed once for five yards, completed an option pass vs. Purdue for 22 yards and delivered seven solo tackles, including one for a loss (on the punt coverage team) while also recovering a fumble.

As a sophomore, Decker took over split end duties, as the Academic All-Big Ten selection was also named the winner of the Bruce Smith Award, given to the team's outstanding offensive player. He set the school season-record with 67 receptions, ranking fifth in the league with an average of 5.58 catches per game. His 909 yards receiving placed fifth on the school season-record chart and his average of 75.75 yards per game was good for fourth in the Big Ten.

Decker's nine touchdown catches were the third-best season total by a Gopher. He also carried three times for 22 yards (7.3-yard average), returned four punts for 28 yards and threw a 20-yard pass for a touchdown while adding three solo tackles and a fumble recovery.

Decker was a CoSIDA Academic All-District, Academic All-Big Ten and first-team All-Conference selection in 2008. He was named third-team All-American by The NFL Draft Report and honorable mention by Sports Illustrated. He started twelve games at split end, sitting out the Wisconsin contest with a high ankle sprain. He went on to break his own school record by hauling in 84 passes, as his 1,074 yards gained rank second on the UM annual record chart. He also scored on seven of those grabs.

Decker added 87 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries (7.9-yard average) in 2008. He also saw some action on defense, breaking up the final two pass attempts in the Northern Illinois clash. Hobbled the last three games by his ankle sprain, he underwent left knee surgery after the regular season. He returned to pull down eight passes for 149 yards and a touch-down vs. Kansas in the Insight Bowl.

A consensus All-American and All-Big Ten Conference first-team preseason selection, Decker got off to a good start as a senior before suffering a foot injury in the eighth game vs. Ohio State that would require surgery, thus ending his career four games shy of the conclusion of the 2009 campaign. At the time of his injury, he was leading the league and ranked 15th in the nation with an average of 94.75 yards receiving per game.

Decker also ranked fourth in the Big Ten with an average of 6.25 receptions per game. In eight contests, he totaled 50 catches for 758 yards (15.16-yard average) and five touchdowns. He also showed off his throwing ability once again, firing off a 7-yard scoring strike right after he was cut on his chin in the California clash.

Analysis

Release: Very good quickness off the line even with his height and strong build. Gets to top speed fast but doesn't have a breakaway gear. Beats the jam using his hands and a sidestep. Recognizes holes in the defense, and looks for the ball immediately.

Hands: Excellent hands, extending them outside his body. Looks the ball in and doesn't let go under pressure. Good concentration in traffic; has the size and vertical to win jump balls. Brings in poorly thrown passes anywhere in his vicinity. Tracks the ball over both shoulders.

Route running: Lines up in the slot and on the sideline; runs all of the routes on the tree. Creates separation with his hands and speed down the sideline, providing nice target. Aware of the first down marker. Understands the offense very well. Works to get free if quarterback is in trouble. Inconsistent planting and driving on out routes.

After the catch: Has enough elusiveness and agility to be used on slip screens at 6-3, 215 pounds. Can stop quickly to let oncoming defenders fly by. Tightropes the sideline on deep patterns. Runs through arm tackles, but doesn't give out hits to smaller defensive backs to get additional yardage.

Blocking: Improved his blocking during his senior year, using his size to negate smaller cornerbacks on the edge. Instead of trying to cut his man or allowing corners to disengage early, as he did in previous seasons, Decker sought out contact and looked willing to sustain so running backs have room to roam when bouncing outside.

Intangibles: Natural athlete with good work habits. Played through high ankle sprain as much as possible last fall, and worked hard to return from knee surgery for bowl game following his junior season. Respected in the locker room.

NFL Comparison: Jordy Nelson, Packers

Career Notes

Decker started 34-of-45 games at Minnesota (two at slot receiver, 32 at split end), as he holds the school career-records with 227 receptions for 3,119 yards and ranks third with 24 touchdown grabs … Scored 152 points, as he carried the ball 15 times for 114 yards (7.6-yard average) and a touchdown, adding 28 yards on four punt returns … Completed 3-of-4 pass attempts for 49 yards and two touchdowns … Recorded 10 solo tackles with a stop for a 2-yard loss and two fumble recoveries … His 227 receptions broke the previous school career-record of 198 by Ron Johnson (1998-2001) and rank sixth in Big Ten Conference history behind Taylor Stubblefield of Purdue (325, 2001-04), Dorien Bryant of Purdue (292, 2004-07), John Standeford of Purdue (266, 2000-03), David Williams of Illinois (262, 1983-85) and Braylon Edwards of Michigan (252, 2001-04) … His 3,119 yards topped the school's old all-time record of 2,989 yards by Ron Johnson and place eighth on the Big Ten all-time record chart … His 24 touchdown catches rank behind Johnson's 31 and Ernie Wheelwright (26, 2004-07) on Minnesota's all-time record list … Decker gained at least 100 yards receiving 12 times during his career, breaking the previous school record of eleven by Tutu Atwell (1994-97) … Decker also set the school mark with four consecutive 100-yard receiving efforts (149 vs. Kansas in the 2008 Insight Bowl and 183 vs. Syracuse, 113 vs. Air Force and 119 vs. California in 2009) … He caught at least one pass in each of his last 32 games, ranking behind Atwell (34) and Johnson (46) on the school consecutive games list … Decker put together a two-game string that saw him amass 332 yards receiving (149 vs. Kansas State in the 2008 Insight Bowl and 183 vs. Syracuse in the 2009 season opener). Only Ron Johnson (340 total; 163 vs. Ohio State and 177 vs. Indiana in 2000) gained more yards in back-to-back games by a Minnesota player … Decker set the school season-record with 67 receptions in 2007 and then broke that mark with 84 grabs in 2008. His 84 catches also rank 12th on the Big Ten Conference season-record list … Became the fourth player in school history to gain over 1,000 yards receiving in a season (1,074 in 2008), joining Ron Johnson (1,125 in 2000), Ryan Thelwell (1,051 in 1996) and Chester Cooper (1,012 in 1981), as Decker's 909 yards in 2007 rank tied with Jared Ellerson (2003) for sixth on the school's annual chart … Caught nine touchdown passes in 2007, surpassed by Omar Douglas (11 in 1993) and Ron Johnson (11 in 2000) on Minnesota's season-record list … His four 100-yard receiving games in 2008 rank fifth on the school season-record list … Gained 190 yards receiving vs. Indiana in 2008, the third-best season total by a Gopher, topped by Ryan Thelwell (228 vs. Ball State in 1996) and Omar Douglas (193 vs. Penn State in 1993) … His 183 yards in the 2009 Syracuse clash placed seventh on the Gophers' game-record chart … Tied Aaron Osterman's school game record (vs. Michigan in 1994) with 13 catches vs. Indiana in 2008 … His 12 receptions vs. Florida Atlantic in 2008 rank third on that game chart … Only player in school history to catch 10 passes in a game four times in a career (also had 10 vs. Air Force in 2009 and 10 vs. Northern Illinois in 2008) … Decker caught 227-of-354 passes targeted to him (64.12%), as he dropped just three throws, had 39 passes deflected by the opposition and Minnesota quarterbacks misfired on 85 other throws … 160 of his receptions produced first downs (70.48%), as he converted 50 third-down throws (22.03% of his catches) and two others on fourth down snaps … 126 of his grabs gained at least 10 yards (55.51%), with 25.99% of his receptions resulting in 20 yards or longer (59) … Had key catches that produced 59 touchdown drives and nine other series that ended with field goals for the Gophers … Caught 13.22% of his passes inside the red zone (30), with sixteen of them coming on goal-line plays … Was tackled for a loss on just four of his 227 receptions (1.76%) … On his 15 rushing attempts, he scored once and had big runs that led to five other Minnesota touchdown drives and two possessions that resulted in field goals … Threw for two touchdowns on his three pass completions, while his other successful pass set up a Gophers' touchdown drive … Set school bowl game records with 149 yards on eight receptions vs. Kansas in the 2008 Insight Bowl.

2009 Season

Consensus All-American and All-Big Ten Conference first-team preseason selection … Named to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List, an honor given annually to the best receiver in college football … Rated the best offensive player in the Big Ten Conference and the top receiver prospect eligible for the 2010 NFL Draft by The NFL Draft Report … One of 30 college athletes named candidates for the 2009 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, given annually to an NCAA Division I senior in the Football Bowl Subdivision that has notable achievements in four areas of excellence -- classroom, character, community and competition … Has been simply sensational during the first half of his final season, as Decker leads the conference and ranks seventh in the nation with an average of 7.67 catches per game … Decker was named a 2009 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete. He is one of 16 NCAA and NAIA football players to receive the award, which gives an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship to each student-athlete. The 16 award recipients are finalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy, which recognizes the top scholar-athlete in the country … Suffered a Lisfranc sprain in his left foot during the first-quarter action vs. Ohio State, missing the final four games of the season … His injury occurs when there's a fracture and dislocation between the forefoot and mid-foot joints. He was operated on by Dr. Robert Anderson, a highly regarded orthopedic surgeon in Charlotte, N.C., on Nov. 3. The prognosis was a six-to-eight month rehabilitation period … Finished ranked 15th in the nation while leading the Big Ten Conference with an average of 94.75 yards per game, accounting for 44.62% of the team's passing yards (team ranks 66th in the nation in passing with an average of 212.33 yards per game) … Also ranked tied for 28th nationally while placing fourth in the league with an average of 6.26 catches per game … In eight games for the Gophers, Decker caught 50-of-73 passes targeted to him (68.49%), as he dropped one of those tosses, had eight others deflected by the opposition and 15 attempts where Gopher quarterbacks misfired on those throws … His 50 receptions rank 17th on the school season-record list … Gained 758 yards (15.16 yards per carry) on those grabs, the 16th-best season total by a Gopher … Five of those catches resulted in touchdowns … 36 of his 50 receptions produced first downs (72.00%), as he converted 5-of-13 third-down throws … 30 of his catches (60.00%) gained at least 10 yards, with 16 of those grabs longer than 20 yards (32.00%) … Had key receptions that set up 12 touchdown drives and six series that concluded with field goals … Made 11 of his catches inside the red zone (23.91%) … Penalized twice (false start and holding), both coming in the Air Force contest and dropped just one of the 73 passes targeted to him … In his eight games on the field, Decker accounted for 50.70% of the team's passing yardage (758-of-1,495), 62.50% of its touchdown receptions (5-of-8) and 51.43% of its first downs passing (36-of-70) … Had key receptions on 66.67% of the team's offensive touchdowns (12-of-18) and on 85.71% of its field goals (6-of-7).

2008 Season

All-American third-team selection by The NFL Draft Report, earning honorable mention from Sports Illustrated … Consensus All-Big Ten Conference and Academic All-Big Ten first-team choice … Named one of 10 finalists for the Biletnikoff Award … CoSIDA Academic All-District pick … Lined up at split end for 12 games, sitting out the Wisconsin clash with a high ankle sprain … Underwent arthroscopic left knee surgery after the regular season, but was back on the field in time for the Kansas clash at the Insight Bowl … Broke his own school season-record with 84 receptions, as his 1,074 yards receiving (12.79 yards per catch) was the second-highest season total by a Gopher, topped only by Ron Johnson's 1,125 yards in 2000 … Scored on seven touchdown receptions, as he led the Big Ten and placed seventh nationally with an average of 7.0 catches per game … Also led the conference while finishing 17th in the major college ranks with an average of 89.5 yards receiving per game … Added another score on a rushing attempt, as he carried eleven times for 87 yards (7.9-yard average) … Also deflected a pair of passes in brief action on defense in the season opener vs. Northern Illinois … Touched the ball 95 times for the season, gaining 1,161 all-purpose yards (96.75 yards per game) … Pulled down 84-of-122 passes targeted to him (68.85%), as he dropped one toss (vs. Purdue), had the opposition deflect eight other throws and Minnesota quarterbacks were off-target on 29 other pass attempts … 55 of his receptions (65.48%) produced first downs, as he converted 18-of-33 third-down passes … 41 of his receptions were good for at least 10 yards (48.81%), including 18 that were for 20 yards or longer (21.43%) … Came up with critical catches that led to seventeen Minnesota touchdown drives and two others that resulted in field goals … Caught eight of his passes inside the red zone, including six on goal-line plays … Was tackled twice for lost yardage and once at the line of scrimmage on his 84 grabs … Five of his eleven rushing attempts led to Gophers touchdowns and another set up a field goal … Fielded one punt (fair catch) vs. Indiana … Decker was responsible for 37.71% of the team's yards passing (1,074-of-2,848), 46.67% of their touchdown passes (7-of-15) and 45.08% of their first downs passing (55-of-122) … His key receptions were responsible for 47.22% of the team's offensive touchdowns (17-of-36).

2007 Season

All-Big Ten Conference second-team and All-American honorable mention by The NFL Draft Report … Added Academic All-Big Ten honors and was the recipient of the Bruce Smith Award, given to the team's outstanding offensive player … Earned school Scholar-Athlete accolades … Started all season at split end, setting the school annual record (since broken by Decker in 2008) with 67 receptions, topping the previous mark of 62 grabs by Tutu Atwell in 1996 … Teamed with flanker Ernie Wheelwright (66 receptions) to combine for 133 receptions, the most by a Gophers tandem in the same season … Nine of his receptions were good for touchdowns, the third-best season total by a Gopher receiver …

Had 112 passes targeted to him (caught 59.82% of those attempts), as the opposition deflected 16 of those throws and Minnesota quarterbacks misfired on 29 other throws … 46 of his grabs (68.66%) produced first downs, as he converted 18-of-37 third-down tosses and 1-of-2 fourth-down attempts … Collected at least 10 yards on 37 of his receptions (55.22%), including 19 for 20 yards or longer (28.36%) … Responsible for key receptions that led to 21 Minnesota touchdown drives and one other series that resulted in a field goal … Eight of his catches (11.94%) came inside the red zone, including four on goal-line plays … Carried three times for 22 yards (7.3-yard average), as all three attempts resulted in first downs, including converting a third-&-2 run that set up a field goal vs. Illinois … Added 28 yards on four punt returns, but fumbled once … Completed his only pass attempt, good for a 20-yard touch-down vs. North Dakota State … Recorded three solo tackles and recovered one fumble … Touched the ball 74 times, finishing the season with 959 all-purpose yards (79.92 yards per game) … Was penalized three times, all for false starts (one each vs. Bowling Green, Florida Atlantic and Wisconsin) … Was responsible for 30.82% of the team's passing yards (909-of-2,949), 36% of its touchdown receptions (9-of-25) and 36.8% of its first downs passing (46-of-125) … Had key receptions on 52.5% of the team's offensive touchdowns (21-of-40).

2006 Season

Named to The Gridiron Report's Freshman All-Big Ten Conference team … Academic All-Big Ten Conference and school scholar-athlete choice … Played in all 13 games, starting vs. Temple and Penn State as a slot receiver … Ranked fourth on the team, as he caught 26-of-47 passes targeted to him (55.32%), as he gained 378 yards (14.54 yards per carry) with three touchdown while participating on 480 plays … Completed his only pass attempt, good for a 22-yard gain vs. Purdue … Also carried once for five yards, as that attempt set up a Minnesota touchdown drive … Recorded seven solo tackles with a stop for a 2-yard loss and recovered a fumble on a kickoff return vs. Indiana that set up a Minnesota touchdown drive … Six of his tackles came on the punt coverage unit and the seventh was the result of a stop after a Minnesota interception … Touched the ball 27 times for 383 all-purpose yards (29.46 yards per game) … Of the 47 passes targeted to him, Decker had one dropped ball (vs. Indiana), as the opposition deflected seven other throws and Minnesota quarterbacks misfired on thirteen other attempts … Decker was very effective at moving the chains, as 23 of his receptions (88.46%) were good for first downs … Converted 9-of-14 third-down throws … Eighteen of his catches (69.23%) gained at least ten yards, including six grabs for 20 yards or longer (23.08%) … Credited with key receptions that led to nine Minnesota touchdown drives … Caught three balls inside the red zone, with two coming on goal line plays.

2005 Season

Redshirted as a freshman.

Injury Report

2008: Left the Michigan game (11/08) early in the contest with a high ankle sprain, missing the next contest vs. Wisconsin (11/15) … Underwent arthroscopic left knee surgery after the regular season, but was back on the field for the Insight Bowl vs. Kansas (12/31).

2009: Suffered a cut under his chin that required seven stitches after catching his second pass of the California game (9/19) for a touchdown, but returned to finish the day with 119 yards and two scores on eight receptions … Suffered a left foot injury in the first quarter vs. Ohio State (10/24) that would lead to his career at Minnesota coming to an end. Decker's injury is a Lisfranc sprain, which occurs when there's a fracture and dislocation between the forefoot and mid-foot joints. He was operated on by Dr. Robert Anderson, a highly regarded orthopedic surgeon in Charlotte, N.C., on November 3rd. Anderson has worked with many NFL players. The prognosis is a six-to-eight month rehabilitation period.

Agility Tests

Campus: 4.54 in the 40-yard dash … 1.56 10-yard dash … 2.58 20-yard dash … 4.09 20-yard shuttle … 6.81 three-cone drill … 33.5-inch vertical jump … 9'8" broad jump … Bench pressed 225 pounds 22 times.

Baseball
High School

Attended Rocori (Cold Spring, Minn.) High School, playing football for head coach Rick Theisen … Also starred in baseball and basketball, in addition to excelling in the class-room, earning All-State Academic Team and National Honor Society recognition … On the gridiron, he was named to Super Prep's All-Midwest team, as that recruiting service rated him the 14th-best receiver in the country … The Prep Star All-Midwest Region pick added All-State first-team honors from the Associated Press in each of his final two seasons …

Also a two-time All-Central Lakes League, All-Conference, All-Area and All-Section pick …

The two-time team MVP snatched 62 passes for 1,017 yards and fifteen touchdowns, as he was one of just two players to gain over 1,000 receiving yards in the state on Minnesota in 2004 … Closed out his football career with 2,156 yards and 28 touchdowns receiving … Was named All-Conference, All-Area and All-Section in both baseball (as an outfielder) and basketball.

Personal

Business and Marketing major, earning school scholar-athlete, Academic All-Big Ten Conference and CoSIDA Academic All-District honors … Son of Sue Meyer and Tom Decker … Born 3/15/87 … Resides in Cold Spring, Minnesota.

Personal

Undecided on major. … son of Tom Decker and Sue Meyer. … born March 15, 1987.

 
 
Latest News
04/26/2010 - BEST PICK: Wide receiver Eric Decker: He should have gone much higher in the draft, but a season-ending foot injury set him back. If he gets healthy -- and he said he hopes to be fully ready by training camp -- the Broncos might have got a steal in the third round.

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