Is Taylor Decker Turning the Corner?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Logan Lamorandier

The first-ever draft pick that Bob Quinn selected as general manager of the Detroit Lions was offensive tackle Taylor Decker. 

Decker was the 16th overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft out of Ohio State.

His rookie year was widely considered a success. 

Since suffering a labrum injury during an OTA practice in his second year, Decker hasn't necessarily lived up to the high first-round expectations or improved upon his solid first season.

This year, Decker got off to a horrible start. 

In Week 1 against the Arizona Cardinals, Decker allowed two sacks, seven total pressures and was called for four penalties. 

His performance was highly criticized, and incited mass scrutiny from fans questioning his talents. 

What many didn't know at the time was that Decker was dealing with a back injury throughout the game. 

The fourth-year tackle ended up missing the next game due to the ailment.

Not to make excuses for him, but it appears that Decker has at least been a serviceable left tackle since the rough 2019 opener.

According to Pro Football Focus, Decker has been the best-graded left tackle in back-to-back weeks. 

His performance against the Bears landed him on PFF's "Team of the Week" in both Week 9 and 10. 

Decker had no easy task last week, either, as he faced off against arguably the best defender in all of football in Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack. 

The Lions' blindside protector didn't allow a single pressure on 59 pass-blocking snaps.

On the contrary, perhaps the biggest complaint of Decker's game has been the penalties he's been responsible for. 

As mentioned earlier, Decker did have four penalties in Week 1. 

Since then, he has had four more -- one in each of the last four games. 

Of the eight penalties called against him, though, two of them have either been declined or declared as offsetting because of a penalty called simultaneously against the opposition. 

His eight flags are tied for eighth-most among all tackles in the NFL.

All of the above considered, PFF still has Decker graded as the 14th-best left tackle in the league this year. 

Lions fans are no stranger to mediocre left tackle play, dating back to Jeff Backus and Riley Reiff.

Unfortunately, left tackle is no easy position, and much like quarterbacks, there aren't 32 high-level players at the position throughout the league. 

Both positions cost a pretty penny, and are vital to a franchise's success. 

Is it worth it to roll the dice and attempt to try to upgrade a position that is difficult to find?

Quinn has already decided to give the fifth-year option to Decker, which will cost the Lions $10.4 million in 2020. 

Much like with former Lions tight end Eric Ebron, Decker could still ultimately get cut before free agency with no dead cap ramifications.

Decker is at a crucial point in his career, needing to demonstrate his value. 

The last two weeks have been a good start. 

Now, he just needs to continue his "hot streak."

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