Summary: In the passing-driven NFL, teams needs two quality tackles. The recent playoffs illustrated that, and if a left tackle is good but the right side is beaten all day, it doesn't bode well for a team's offense. Because of that, we've seen right tackles being drafted higher in recent years with the likes of Lane Johnson, Zack Martin, Brandon Scherff and Ereck Flowers being selected in the top half of the first round of their draft classes - Martin and Scherff moved to guard. An injury forced Flowers to the left side in 2015 when he was supposed to start out at right tackle, and Johnson could eventually move to left tackle for the Eagles. Still, all of those players were top-16 picks with the intent of manning a spot on the right side of the offensive line.
That bodes well for the draft hopes of Decker. Sources view him as a mid- to late first-round pick. They say that Decker is a solid football player. They feel that a team might be able to get away with him on the left side, but ultimately would want someone more athletic. They feel Decker is best suited as a right tackle in the NFL.
Decker entered the starting lineup for the Buckeyes as a sophomore. He was good run blocker from the start and improved as a pass protector as he gained more experience. To finish 2014, Decker played well, protecting Cardale Jones and opening holes for Ezekiel Elliott as Ohio State had a tremendous three-game run to win the Big Ten Title and advance through the first college football playoff to win the National Championship. In 2015, Decker played well for the Buckeyes again, but was better as a run blocker than in pass protection. He had some problems with speed rushers though.
Entering the next level, Decker's strength comes in the ground game. He can get movement at the point of attack and push defenders off the line of scrimmage. He has good strength to sustain his blocks in the run game and pass protection as well. There is no doubt that Decker has some heavy hands which leads to defenders having a very difficult time shedding him once he gets locked on them.
Decker doesn't look like he has the speed, quick feet, and agility to play left tackle. Fast edge rushers can give him problems coming around the corner. Thus, he would be a better fit as a right tackle. When teams move around their elite pass-rushers to rush against the right tackle, like say a Von Miller or J.J. Watt, Decker will need some tight end or running back help. Perhaps in time though, he won't. Regardless, Decker has enough quickness and athleticism to block on the right side.
Off the field, sources say Decker is a solid individual who came across well in the combine interviews.
For the NFL, Decker could turn into an asset as a right tackle. It isn't out of the realm of possibility that with some development and experience, he could play left tackle during his NFL career. At the very least, he should start out as a right tackle. Decker may not be the sexiest of picks for the 2016 NFL Draft, but he could easily turn into a quality starter who has a long NFL career.
Player Comparison: Sebastian Vollmer. Decker's play reminds me of Vollmer. Vollmer (6-8, 325) and Decker are similarly sized with both having the ability to get movement in the ground game. They aren't elite athletes on the edge, but they are solid football players. After being a second-round pick, Vollmer has turned into one of the better right tackles in the NFL, and I think Decker could also be at a similar level in his career.
NFL Matches: Atlanta, Indianapolis, New York Jets, Houston, Seattle, Kansas City, Carolina and Denver
Late in the first round, there are a lot of possible destinations for Decker. Atlanta could use an improved offensive line to protect Matt Ryan, and Decker would give the Falcons better run blocking for Devonta Freeman. Obviously, the Colts have to get better at protecting Andrew Luck. Decker could be in play for Indianapolis to give the franchise a bookend with Anthony Castanzo.
The Jets scouted offensive tackles hard before the last draft. Decker could be in play as a competitor at guard or right tackle in the short term and eventually replace the aging D'Brickashaw Ferguson.
Houston could use more offensive line talent. The Texans could play Decker at right tackle with Derek Newton moving to guard and Xavier Su'a-Filo moving to center. Perhaps Decker could develop into an eventual replacement for aging left tackle Duane Brown.
The Panthers' offensive line lost them the Super Bowl. Michael Oher wasn't signed long term, and the team needs a better right tackle in the long term for Cam Newton. Denver could also take some offensive line help. Ryan Clady may not be with the Broncos much longer. Ty Sambrailo is unproven, while Michael Schofield is not good. Denver could upgrade its line with Decker.