Why Eric Decker Is A Legit No. 1 Receiver

Posted by Jack Tumen


Eric Decker is now a New York Jet. After being a member of the best offense in NFL history, Decker hit the free agent market as the consensus top wideout available. At the same time, a large number of people were yapping about how he’s not truly a number one guy, but more like the best number two on any team.

I beg to differ.

Now, let’s first set aside the fact that since it’s the Jets, Decker is obviously their number one guy. Yes, got it, great. Having said that, it doesn’t matter what roster this guy is on; he can be a true number one on just about any team in the NFL that doesn’t have Calvin Johnson, AJ Green or Julio Jones (you get the point.) And I don’t want to hear any of this “Peyton Manning inflated his stats” crap. No shit he inflated his stats. Peyton could inflate MY stats. Peyton could inflate YOUR stats. He’s fucking Peyton Manning.

With that now off my chest, let’s get down to business. I’m not writing this post because I’m a wishful-thinking Jets fan; I’ve always been high on Decker. I’ve followed his career ever since he popped up on the Broncos depth chart way back in Madden ’11 (yup.) There’s only one way to size E-Deck up; compare him against every other number one wide receiver on every NFL team.

So that’s just what I did.

I created a spreadsheet listing height, weight and 40 time of every number one wideout on all 32 teams. To clarify what constitutes a number one wideout, as a knowledgable football fan, I combined team depth charts with common sense. For example; Justin Blackmon is the most physically gifted receiver on the Jaguars, but Cecil Shorts was their number one guy last year. Likewise for someone like Julian Edelman; not physically impressive but nonetheless the number one target on his team. For the Rams, it’s Chris Givens; he’s atop the depth chart and Tavon Austin didn’t play nearly as many snaps.

I also made this chart a couple days before the Raiders signed James Jones. Replacing Jones on this list would actually benefit Decker even more since Decker is taller, weighs more and had a faster 40 time; plus I did way too much math to do it all over again for flippin’ James Jones. Rod Streater was Oakland’s top target last season; Denarius Moore was oft-injured, and Streater emerged to lead the Raiders in receiving. On the other hand, despite Michael Crabtree’s injury, he’s still San Fran’s number one guy over Anquan Boldin.

Below is my list of number ones as they stood on March 15th. I believe Decker’s around the 15th or 16th best on this list.

  1. Eric Decker, Jets – 6’3″/214/4.54
  2. Julian Edelman, Patriots – 5’10″/198/4.52
  3. Mike Wallace, Dolphins – 6’0″/199/4.33
  4. Stevie Johnson, Bills – 6’2″/207/4.59
  5. Torrey Smith, Ravens – 6’0″/205/4.43
  6. A.J. Green, Bengals – 6’4″/207/4.50
  7. Josh Gordon, Browns – 6’3″/225/4.52
  8. Antonio Brown, Steelers – 5’10″/186/4.47
  9. Andre Johnson, Texans – 6’3″/230/4.41
  10. Reggie Wayne, Colts – 6’0″/200/4.45
  11. Cecil Shorts, Jaguars – 6’0″/202/4.59
  12. Kendall Wright, Titans – 5’10″/191/4.61
  13. Keenan Allen, Chargers – 6’2″/211/4.71
  14. Rod Streater, Raiders – 6’3″/200/4.37
  15. Demaryius Thomas, Broncos – 6’3″/229/4.38
  16. Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs – 6’2″/221/4.51
  17. Victor Cruz, Giants – 6’0″/204/4.47
  18. Dez Bryant, Cowboys – 6’2″/222/4.52
  19. DeSean Jackson, Eagles – 5’10″/175/4.35
  20. Pierre Garcon, Redskins – 6’0″/212/4.48
  21. Jordy Nelson, Packers – 6’3″/217/4.51
  22. Brandon Marshall, Bears – 6’4″/230/4.52
  23. Greg Jennings, Vikings – 6’0″/195/4.48
  24. Calvin Johnson, Lions – 6’5″/236/4.35
  25. Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers – 6’5″/230/4.46
  26. Marques Colston, Saints – 6’4″/225/4.50
  27. Julio Jones, Falcons – 6’3″/220/4.39
  28. Tavarres King, Panthers (like what?) – 6’1″/190/4.44
  29. Michael Crabtree, 49ers – 6’1″/214/4.54
  30. Percy Harvin, Seahawks – 5’11″/184/4.41
  31. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals – 6’3″/218/4.63
  32. Chris Givens, Rams – 6’0″/198/4.41

With that rationale explained, here’s how my research turned out. The average height of all the number one wideouts is 72.7 inches; just under 6’3″, the average weight is 209.2 pounds and the average 40 time is 4.48 seconds. So where does Decker stand against those numbers? He’s 6’3″, 214 with a 4.54-40 time. So physically he’s just above average and is a hair slower than the average top wideout (plus speed always varies in actual games with adrenaline going.)

Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Yeah, I bet you didn’t know Eric Decker is 6’3″. Neither did I. He just looks smaller on TV. But the numbers don’t lie; Eric Decker is physically above average. He’s basically a Jordy Nelson clone.

Ok, ok. So what about when it comes to actually catching passes? This is where all those inflationists chime in. Listen, people; the fact that he’s catching a Geno Smith pass doesn’t de-value his legitimacy as a number one wideout. As receiver 2a in Denver last year, Decker caught 87 balls which was good for 12th in the league and had fewer drops than Calvin Johnson, AJ Green, Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall and his former counterpart, Demaryius Thomas among others. Even if Decker catches 20 fewer passes as a Jet next season, it still doesn’t make him any worse a receiver. The quarterback is responsible for the distribution of numbers; the potential is still present.

That potential is what I’m getting at here. No, he’s is not a juker and he’s not a burner, but he’s the ultimate possession guy. He’s about as solid a wide receiver as you can find to fit the definition. Only just entering his prime at 27, the man now deserves to be included in this category. Like it or not, it’s time to warm up to Eric Decker.

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