HT – WT – SPEED: When you project out on a player who stands 6-foot-7 and weighs 250-pounds prior to his sophomore year in high school, you take a major gamble. However, in June of 2009, I reported that Taylor Decker was a player to watch. Now, standing an inch taller and 38-pounds heavier, Decker is making me look good. Nevertheless, all the credit goes to Decker for starting to believe college football was his future calling. For offensive tackles, you cannot teach a long frame, and Decker will give Irish strength and conditioning coach Paul Longo a solid body to start with; I fully expect magic after a year in the Irish strength coach. While we do not look much at overall speed at the offensive tackle position, Decker has no problem moving down the field.
QUICKNESS – AGILITY – BALANCE: This was the area that stood out two years ago when watching Decker at an offensive lineman camp. Despite the long frame, Decker showed his basketball skills could transfer over to the football field, as he was able to show above average balance and the quickness and agility of smaller players.
STRENGTH: For those who only look at brute strength numbers, Taylor Decker will not impress them. However, keep in mind we are talking about a 17-year-old kid who has extremely long arms to bench weight. The true strength of a player at this stage of his development is the power shown from the lower legs and from the hip explosion. Decker has above average in both of these areas and will add the other in time.
BODY FLEXIBILITY: Natural bender capable of having solid pad level even against shorter players. One he is going against guys more his size, more will see the ability he has as a blocker.
PRODUCTION: Unlike running backs or wide receivers, prospects of Taylor Decker's stature do not grow on trees. Look at some of the top offensive tackles on the NFL Draft board and see about half of the Top 20 stand 6-foot-7 or taller. Decker is still a work in progress and he will only get better as he devotes more time to being a football only athlete.
ON THE FIELD
While other may be ranked higher than Decker at this time, long-term, do not be surprised to see Decker continue solid growth to his game. His best football is ahead of him and while I do not expect him to enter Notre Dame and take a starting position in year one, do not be surprised if he is pushing during his second season in the program.
There is more to Taylor Decker than just a kid with a great frame. Off the field, Decker comes from a disciplined family as his father played college ball at Army. A yes sir, no sir type of guy, Decker plays with emotion on the field while still being a solid performer in the classroom.
The raw ability I saw during his sophomore year has now been replaced with better technique and strength. Decker not only earned college football offers, but also college basketball offers.
Taylor Decker is the type of athlete you want at the tackle position in a spread offensive attack.
While it is never nice to place pressure on a kid who is still a year away from college, Taylor Decker, if he can stay healthy, has the tools to continue his growth and be a guy who plays on Sundays down the road.