With Kyle Orton under center for the Broncos, Decker showed glimpses of greatness. His production declined in the latter part of the season, however, when the offense switched from passing to well, Tebow.
With the widely publicized addition of Peyton Manning this offseason, Eric Decker is primed for a breakout year with the Broncos in 2012. Running a different style offense this season, Manning will spread the ball around and utilize Decker in a similar fashion as Wes Welker in New England.
Decker is often compared to the Patriots wideout and to some is considered a newer younger version of the slot receiver. Is Decker the next Welker? I'm buying it and here's why.
Let's Get Physical
Eric Decker and Wes Welker are both "lunch pail" receivers. Neither of them are flashy or super fast, but are consistently open to bail out the quarterback when the pocket closes in.
What makes these guys so dangerous is their ability to gain extra yards after catching the ball. Both are adept at route running, have great hands and have no problems taking hits across the middle.
Even though Decker will be used on intermediate and deep routes as well, I think his bread and butter will be passes less than 20 yards, similar to Welker.
Peyton Manning loves to share the wealth when it comes to his targets. Like Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, he rewards consistent workhorses by throwing them the ball. Brady knows that he can count on Wes Welker to get open and make clutch catches when needed.
This season with Manning behind center, Decker will now have the same advantage as Welker; a quarterback that can read defenses and change the play accordingly at the line.
While playing for the Colts, Manning had great chemistry with a similar player, Austin Collie. They connected on 81.7 percent of his throws in 2010, most of those from shorter slot routes. Although fellow former Colt Brandon Stokley is currently on the Denver roster, he is aging will not be able to get open or take a beating like the 26-year-old Decker.
With his great hands, pure grit and ability as a solid route runner, Decker will become one of Manning's favorite targets this season. He also has history on his side, wearing the same number as former Bronco standout slot receiver Ed McCaffrey.
Although he and Welker do have some differences, their play is similar and the bigger, younger and more versatile Decker is poised to take the slot receiver to yet another level in the NFL.