In the Detroit Lions' draft room in Allen Park last April, Bob Quinn announced that Taylor Decker would be the selection for his first-ever draft pick as general manager.
The talented lineman out of Ohio State became Detroit's left tackle from Day 1, and really never looked back. He played every snap for the Lions this season, and more than held his own at one of the toughest positions to play in football.
"Taylor Decker started every game at left tackle and that's a pretty difficult feat for a rookie," Quinn told SiriusXM NFL Radio last week. "He's done a real solid job.
"That position is a really hard position to play, and Taylor's done a good job of getting better every week kind of really studying his opponent and know what kind of game that he has to play each and every week because the defensive ends in this league come in all shapes and sizes and you can't always play the same game against these pass rushers."
Decker allowed just 4.5 sacks in 16 games, per STATS INC., playing more than 1,000 snaps. He was penalized six times (three false starts & three holds).
Pro Football Focus graded Decker one of the Top 12 left tackles in football, the only rookie among that group. He was given a pass blocking efficiency grade of 95.0 out of 100 by the website.
"I was impressed, obviously, with his physical ability, it jumps out the screen at you, but his mental makeup and his ability to move on from the negatives and find areas of weakness in his game and improve them, he did a heck of a job for us this year," quarterback Matthew Stafford said of Decker.
Decker, along with fellow rookies Graham Glasgow and Joe Dahl, was a big component of Quinn's strategy to bolster Detroit's trenches through his first draft. Decker started all 16 games, Glasgow 11 at both center and guard, and Dahl played a reserve roll in six contests.
The biggest jump in a young player's development is typically from year one to year two, as they're afforded some rest and a real offseason, as opposed to preparing for the draft process.
Decker should only get better the more experienced he becomes, and the Lions should feel good about his future based off his rookie campaign.