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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St. Louis 2
Pittsburgh 4 FINAL
Atlanta 2
Miami 7 FINAL
Washington 11
Detroit 4 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Minnesota 6 FINAL
Baltimore 5
NY Yankees 7 FINAL
Houston 0
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Boston 3
Baltimore 4 FINAL
Toronto 2
Cincinnati 8 FINAL
LA Angels 6
Chicago Cubs 7 FINAL
Kansas City 0
Los Angeles 9 FINAL
San Francisco 11
Chicago WSox 4 FINAL
Cleveland 1
Milwaukee 0 FINAL
Oakland 7
Seattle 5 FINAL
San Diego 8
Texas 5 FINAL
Los Angeles 10
Colorado 11 FINAL
Arizona 10
Arizona 1 FINAL
Colorado 2
Houston 99 FINAL
Washington 91
LA Lakers 99 FINAL
Brooklyn 107
Minnesota 88 FINAL
New Orleans 110
Philadelphia 86 FINAL
Cleveland 87
Detroit 102 FINAL
Miami 109
LA Clippers 119 FINAL
Boston 106
Dallas 99 FINAL
Indiana 104
Memphis 89 FINAL
San Antonio 103
Oklahoma City 109 FINAL
Phoenix 97
Washington 5 FINAL
NY Rangers 2
Calgary 5 FINAL
Nashville 2
Boston 2 FINAL(OT)
Carolina 1
Detroit 4 FINAL
NY Islanders 5
Florida 4 FINAL
Ottawa 2
Anaheim 2 FINAL
New Jersey 1
Chicago 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 3
San Jose 2 FINAL(SO)
Pittsburgh 3
Michigan State 76 FINAL
Louisville 70
Gonzaga 52 FINAL
Duke 66
Philadelphia 0 FINAL
Chicago 1
Toronto FC 1 FINAL
Real Salt Lake 2
(7) Florida State 74 FINAL
(3) South Carolina 80
Villanova 70 FINAL
West Virginia 75
Michigan 69 FINAL
Southern Miss 60
Temple 69 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 57
Siena 50 FINAL
Louisiana 52
St Marys-CA 66 FINAL
(5) Baylor 68 FINAL
(2) Notre Dame 77
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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 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9




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