Late bloomers making their mark in NFL

  • Article by: MICHAEL RAND , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 4, 2014 - 11:24 AM

The Super Bowl saw plenty of players who were not considered can't-miss prospects make a big impact.


Eric Decker, who went on to have a standout career with the Gophers and just played in the Super Bowl with the Broncos, was only a two-star recruit out of Rocori High School.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

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The Super Bowl was Sunday. College football signing day is Wednesday. Soon, we will be inundated with coverage from the NFL scouting combine, which will lead to months of draft speculation.

So now is the perfect time to remind you of this: When it comes to evaluating football talent, nobody knows anything for certain, and if they pretend otherwise it’s at best an educated guess and at worst a lie they are trying to sell the public.

Sometimes the consensus turns out to be correct. Percy Harvin was the No. 1 overall recruit in the nation in 2006, as ranked by He went on to have a great career at Florida, was a first-round pick by the Vikings in 2009, and made an electric play to help cement Seattle’s Super Bowl victory.

But guys like Harvin tend to be the exceptions ... and the guys who we think of as the exceptions are more like the rules.

Let’s start with this fun fact, tweeted by Dallas Jackson of 46 players in the Super Bowl came out of high school ranked with either two stars or zero stars. Locally famous among them? Eric Decker, a two-star recruit who went on to star with the Gophers before becoming a 1,000-yard receiver with the Broncos. Only four players in the Super Bowl — Harvin included — received the prestigious five-star rating.

Sure, Harvin’s second-half kick return for a touchdown helped seal the game for Seattle, but the Seahawks did much of their damage all year and on Sunday without him. Instead, they relied heavily on those unheralded guys.

On their 53-man Super Bowl roster, 21 of the players were not drafted by any team. According to, another 16 were chosen after the third round. So as that site points out, 37 of 53 — 70 percent — were selected in what is now the last of the three days of the draft or not picked at all.

Remember all of that if you are a high school football player obsessed with your star rating, a college player fretting about where you might get picked or just a fan who gobbles up all this information as if it is telling the rock-solid gospel of the future.


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Houston - LP: D. Keuchel 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: B. McCarthy 3
Cleveland 1 Bottom 8th Inning
Minnesota 4
Detroit - LP: D. Price 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: A. Cobb 1
Arizona - W. Miley 3:05 PM
Washington - G. Gonzalez
San Francisco - LP: R. Vogelsong 0 Suspended
Chicago Cubs - WP: T. Wada 2
Atlanta - J. Teheran 6:10 PM
Cincinnati - D. Holmberg
LA Angels - M. Shoemaker 6:10 PM
Boston - R. De La Rosa
San Francisco - M. Bumgarner 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - T. Wood
San Diego - T. Ross 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - C. Kershaw
Pittsburgh 6:30 PM
Carolina 8/22/14 6:30 PM
New England
NY Giants 8/22/14 6:30 PM
NY Jets
Jacksonville 8/22/14 6:30 PM
Oakland 8/22/14 7:00 PM
Green Bay
Chicago 8/22/14 9:00 PM
Tampa Bay 8/23/14 3:30 PM
Tennessee 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Dallas 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Washington 8/23/14 6:30 PM
New Orleans 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Minnesota 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Kansas City
St. Louis 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Houston 8/23/14 8:00 PM
San Diego 8/24/14 3:00 PM
San Francisco
Cincinnati 8/24/14 7:00 PM
(21) Texas A&M 8/28/14 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Boise State 8/28/14 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Temple 8/28/14 8:15 PM
Rutgers 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 8/28/14 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
Montreal 8/22/14 7:30 PM
Toronto 8/23/14 3:00 PM
Calgary 8/24/14 2:00 PM
Saskatchewan 8/24/14 6:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Washington 6:00 PM
San Antonio 8:00 PM
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pm
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pm
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon




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