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2010 NFL Combine: Eric Decker and Jacoby Ford Here To Answer Critics

Michael Schottey@SchotteyNFL National Lead WriterFebruary 27, 2010

Eric Decker and Jacoby Ford are two sides of the same coin.

Decker, a 6'3", 217-pound wideout from Minnesota, has been turning heads his entire life. The multi-sport athlete has always dodged questions about possible detours through baseball or basketball.

Ford is a smaller receiver (5'9", 186 pounds) but has even bigger doubters about his football pedigree.

"Track guy" is the most prevalent critique. 

Both receivers had phenomenal senior seasons.

Decker started 2009 on a tear, posting over 100 yards on four of his first five games. It was nothing new for the Golden Gopher, as consistency is a word that's always been associated with him.

Ford hasn't posted the same numbers as Decker, but teams know to look past the numbers. Ford was, at times, the most explosive player on a Clemson team that also included C.J. Spiller.

It was Spiller, one of the greatest NCAA return men in recent history, who kept Ford from being a full-time kick or punt returner.

Decker is in Indianapolis doing only one workout, the bench press. He underwent Lisfranc surgery on his foot and won't be able to work out until at least June. He isn't worried, though, after talking with Brandon Stokely. Stokely had his career improve following Lisfranc surgery and gave Decker hope for similar results.

He's admitted to feeling cheated by the injury, but he's trying to make the most of it. He's done his rehab at a Combine training facility in Arizona while working extensively on his upper body strength and performing catching drills.

While others have compared him Jordy Nelson or Kevin Walter (because all white wide receivers are the same), Decker has a loftier expectation. He says his game emulates Larry Fitzgerald, another Minnesota boy. Both receivers are big, catch the ball well, and are high-character guys. Both focus intently on running good routes.

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Fitzgerald might have a little more natural athleticism.

When it comes to that athleticism, Ford is one young man who has it in spades. He is aiming for a Combine record in the 40-yard dash but is also aiming to prove he is "a football guy who also runs track."

He says track helped in one specific area. Football players tend to run with poor form, concentrating solely on the foot hitting the ground with maximum force. Track athletes practice on leg turnover, which is just as important. The extra half-second an athlete like Ford can gain from great form can sometimes be the difference between a 10-yard catch or a 50-yard touchdown.

As a student of the game, Ford knows teams might now see him as a No. 1 receiver, but he has the knowledge and ability to play X, Y, or Z and is willing to play in the wildcat if it is asked of him.

Right now, Decker is a sixth or seventh round prospect while Ford is thought to be gone by the third. However, both are candidates for a large boost in stock as scouts become more familiar with their games.

Teams don't base the majority of any final decision on the time spent here in Indianapolis, but these two young men hope to silence some of the critics.

Michael Schottey is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and Detroit Lions Team Correspondent for DraftTek.com. He is LIVE from Indianapolis this week with NFL Combine updates. Follow him at Twitter.

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