US Sports Veteran
The NFL recently announced the Pro Football Hall of Fame All-Decade Teams for the 2010s. Essentially, the Hall of Fame puts together an All-Pro roster for the decade and divides it into first and second teams, the same way the Associated Press selects All-Pros annually. However, a few noteworthy players found themselves left off of the teams.
While the All-Decade teams got a lot right, they also left plenty of respectable players out in the cold. So, I decided to extend the net a little by creating an All-Decade Third Team out of the most significant snubs. I did alter the roster composition slightly by adding an extra linebacker slot, but that allows the team to function as a 4-3 or 3-4 defense. It makes more sense than the strange organization process the actual All-Decade team adopted.
Now, it’s time to meet the best players who missed out on All-Decade selections for the 2010s.
QB- Drew Brees
Some fans wanted Brees on the official All-Decade team over Aaron Rodgers. While Rodgers’ two MVPs put him over the top, Brees’ record-setting statistical output easily qualifies him for this spot. Over the 2010s, Brees led the league in passing yards five times, passing touchdowns twice, and completion percentage five times.
He only entered the NFL in 2015, but Gurley made an immediate impact. Through his first five seasons, the Georgia product made three Pro Bowls, earned First-Team All-Pro honors twice, and won the 2017 Offensive Player of the Year award. He tallied 7,494 yards from scrimmage and 70 rushing and receiving touchdowns before his 26th birthday.
Le’Veon Bell, Ezekiel Elliott, Matt Forte, Arian Foster, and DeMarco Murray all made good cases for this spot. However, Charles flashed Hall of Fame potential before injuries dragged his career down, and he still retired averaging 5.4 yards per carry. In the 2010s, Charles earned First-Team All-Pro honors twice and racked up 8,110 yards from scrimmage.
The underrated right tackle earned Second-Team All-Pro bids in 2015, 2016, and 2019, when the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl. The Associated Press selected Schwartz as a First-Team All-Pro in 2018. Since entering the NFL in 2012, Schwartz has started in every game.
The former first-round pick entered his prime in 2015 when he made the first of five consecutive Pro Bowls. The Associated Press selected DeCastro as a First-Team All-Pro in 2015 and 2017. He also earned Second-Team All-Pro honors in 2016.
Kelce became one of the All-Decade team’s biggest snubs when Alex Mack took his spot on the roster. Kelce made Pro Bowls in 2014, 2016, and 2019. He also earned First-Team All-Pro honors in each of the last three seasons. Unlike Mack, Kelce also walked out of the decade with a Super Bowl title.
While the Notre Dame product only played for two years during the decade, he immediately became one of the five best linemen in the NFL. Nelson made the Pro Bowl and earned First-Team All-Pro honors in both of his pro seasons.
The 38-year-old LSU product only missed three starts during the 2010s. He made four Pro Bowls and earned First-Team All-Pro honors twice in a late-career surge. He started all 16 games for the NFC Champion Los Angeles Rams in 2018.
This decision came down to Graham and Jason Witten, with Greg Olsen making an outside case. Ultimately, Graham’s higher peak and larger touchdown total put him over the top. Before experiencing a sharp decline in Green Bay, Graham made five Pro Bowls with the New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks. The 2013 First-Team All-Pro racked up 355 receptions, 4,396 yards, and 46 touchdowns between 2011 and 2014.
In the first seven years of his career, Green tallied 556 receptions, 8,213 yards, 57 touchdowns, and seven Pro Bowl appearances. Even though he missed seven games in 2018 and all of 2019, Green set a high bar for future first-round receivers. He earned Second-Team All-Pro honors in 2012 and 2013.
The Clemson product struggled with mediocre quarterback play early in his career. However, he’s still amassed 632 receptions, 8,602 yards, and 54 touchdowns in seven seasons. Hopkins went to four Pro Bowls during the 2010s and earned First-Team All-Pro honors in each of the last three seasons.
Zeke almost took this spot, especially since Bell sat out the 2018 season. However, Bell’s skill as a pass-catcher in the passing game dwarfs Elliott’s. Now, if only the New York Jets can fix the rest of their underachieving offense. Bell earned First-Team All-Pro honors in 2014 and 2017. He also earned a Second-Team All-Pro selection as a flex player in 2016.
DE- Justin Houston
Houston almost set the single-season sack record in 2014 when he finished with 22 and earned a First-Team All-Pro selection. From 2012 to 2015, Houston made four consecutive Pro Bowls. This past season, he crossed the ten-sack barrier for the first time since 2014. Houston finished the decade with 426 tackles, 89.5 sacks, 136 quarterback hits, 16 forced fumbles, and 13 fumble recoveries.
Heyward caught fire during the final three years of the decade. After serving as a reliable but unremarkable contributor since 2011, Heyward took his game to another level in 2017. Since then, he earned First-Team All-Pro honors twice and went to three consecutive Pro Bowls. In those three seasons, Heyward recorded 179 tackles, 29 sacks, and 63 quarterback hits.
While fellow 2010 defensive tackle draftees Geno Atkins and Ndamukong Suh made the All-Decade team, McCoy missed out. In his ten-year career, the former third over pick tallied 334 tackles, 59.5 sacks, and 153 quarterback hits. The Associated Press selected McCoy as a First-Team All-Pro in 2013 and a Second-Team All-Pro in 2014 and 2016.
Wake saw his first NFL action in 2009, but he became a full-time starter in 2010. During the decade, Wake tallied 341 tackles, 95 sacks, 215 quarterback hits, and 21 forced fumbles. He also made five Pro Bowls and became a First-Team All-Pro in 2012. Wake earned Second-Team All-Pro honors three times during the 2010s.
While Suggs faded toward the latter half of the decade, he won the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2011. The following season, Suggs contributed two sacks in Baltimore’s Super Bowl run. He also saw playing time in Kansas City’s Super Bowl run this past season. Suggs finished the decade with four Pro Bowls and a First-Team All-Pro selection from 2011. He recorded 459 tackles, 81.5 sacks, 148 quarterback hits, and 21 forced fumbles in 135 games.
Injuries prevented Bowman’s career from making it through the decade, but Bowman played at a perennial All-Pro when healthy. In the five years from 2011-2015, Bowman earned First-Team All-Pro honors four times. He didn’t go five for five because he missed the entire 2014 season.
One of the most underrated players in the NFL, David filled the stat sheet during his eight seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He totaled 1,008 tackles, 22.5 sacks, 52 quarterback hits, 21 forced fumbles, 14 fumble recoveries, 45 passes defensed, and 11 interceptions in 121 games. If he played in a larger market, David would make the Pro Bowl annually.
Ware’s best years came at the end of the 2000s, but he still strung together three great seasons to start the 2010s. The future Hall of Famer earned First-Team All-Pro honors in 2011 and Second-Team All-Pro selections in 2010 and 2012. He won Super Bowl 50 with the Denver Broncos and retired seven seasons into the decade, with 301 tackles, 74 sacks, 131 quarterback hits, and 12 forced fumbles in 98 games.
In 2015, Peters won Defensive Rookie of the Year after leading the NFL in interceptions with eight and passes defensed with 26. He also earned Second-Team All-Pro honors. Peters followed up his 2015 rookie year with a First-Team All-Pro selection in 2016. After two down years, Peters received another First-Team All-Pro selection in 2019. In five seasons, he has 27 interceptions, 797 interception return yards, seven defensive touchdowns, and 77 passes defensed.
Four safeties earned spots on the All-Decade team, and it’s shocking Smith wasn’t among them. An underrated master of disguising and diagnosing plays, Smith finished the decade by making five consecutive Pro Bowls. He earned First-Team All-Pro honors in 2017 and a Second-Team All-Pro selection in 2018. Smith accumulated 658 tackles, 13 sacks, 26 quarterback hits, seven forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries, 23 interceptions, 56 passes defensed, and four touchdowns during his first eight seasons.
The enforcer of the Legion of Boom, Chancellor played a crucial role in Seattle’s two Super Bowl appearances. He should’ve been the MVP of Super Bowl XLVIII, instead of Malcolm Smith. Chancellor retired following the 2017 season because of a neck injury. The hard-hitting safety made four Pro Bowls and earned Second-Team All-Pro honors in both 2013 and 2014.
The 2019 Defensive Player of the Year experienced great success in the final four years of the decade. Gilmore made Pro Bowls in 2016, 2018, and 2019. He also strung together consecutive First-Team All-Pro bids to close out the decade. Gilmore led the NFL with six interceptions and 20 passes defensed this past season.
Talib’s former running mate, Chris Harris, made the All-Decade team. However, the former No Fly Zone leader didn’t receive a spot despite making five Pro Bowls during the 2010s. Talib also won Super Bowl 50, received a Second-Team All-Pro selection in 2013, and earned First-Team All-Pro honors in 2016. He finished the decade with 26 interceptions, 101 passes defensed, and ten defensive touchdowns.
P- Andy Lee
Lee earned First-Team All-Pro selections in 2011 and 2012. During the 2010s, he led the NFL in yards per punt twice. In total, Lee punted the ball 736 times for 35,251 yards. More than a third of those punts (278) landed inside opposing teams’ 20-yard lines.
David Akers played well in three of the first four years to start the decade, but he retired too soon to make this list. Robbie Gould and Matt Prater made good cases, but Bryant scored 1,132 points during the 2010s while connecting on 88.1% of his field goal and 98.9% of his extra point attempts.
Jones stuck around in the NFL for six seasons during the 2010s. During that time, he led the league in kick return touchdowns twice and returned two kicks 108 yards for scores. He amassed 3,944 kick return yards and four kick return touchdowns while averaging 27.8 yards per return.
Patrick Peterson’s 2011 campaign alone would be enough to give him this spot, but the career Cardinal is ineligible since he appeared on the official All-Decade team. That leaves Harris, who returned 180 punts for 1,825 yards and four touchdowns during the 2010s.
Ezekiel Elliott RB
The Ohio St. product only entered the NFL in 2016, but he made a significant impact during his first four seasons. Elliott led the league in rushing yards per game in each of his first three years. He finished the decade with 5,405 rushing yards and 40 rushing touchdowns. Elliott made three Pro Bowls and earned First-Team All-Pro honors as a rookie.
Casey closed the decade by making five consecutive Pro Bowls. His only All-Pro selection came as a Second-Team All-Pro bid in 2013. Casey finished the decade with 493 tackles, 51 sacks, 115 quarterback hits, and eight forced fumbles.
The 2011 first-round pick never made an All-Pro team during the 2010s. However, Kerrigan did make four Pro Bowls and amassed 437 tackles, 90 sacks, 141 quarterback hits, 26 forced fumbles, and three defensive touchdowns. He remains one of the most underappreciated players from the past decade.
Mangold appeared in seven seasons during this past decade, all with the New York Jets. He went to five Pro Bowls and earned a First-Team All-Pro selection in 2010. Mangold also received a Second-Team All-Pro selection in 2011.
Manning led the Denver Broncos to two Super Bowls during the 2010s, and the team won Super Bowl 50. Manning also set several single-season records in 2013, when he won league MVP. In total, Manning went to four Pro Bowls in the decade and earned First-Team All-Pro honors twice.
Matthews went to the Pro Bowls five times during the past decade and earned First-Team All-Pro honors in 2010. In 14 playoff games, he contributed 11 sacks, including 3.5 during Green Bay’s run to the Lombardi Trophy in 2010. He finished the decade with 468 tackles, 81.5 sacks, 179 quarterback hits, 37 passes defensed, and 16 forced fumbles.
Ngata opened the decade with four consecutive Pro Bowl appearances and two consecutive First-Team All-Pro selections. He totaled 233 tackles, 26 sacks, 62 quarterback hits, 30 passes defensed, five forced fumbles, and four fumble recoveries during the 2010s. Ngata also won Super Bowl XLVII with the Baltimore Ravens.
Quinn’s career peaked in 2013 when he recorded 19 sacks. Injuries and inconsistent play led to four consecutive seasons with fewer than ten sacks between 2015 and 2018. However, Quinn rebounded with 11.5 sacks in 2019. In his nine seasons, Quinn tallied 290 tackles, 80.5 sacks, 145 quarterback hits, and 25 forced fumbles.
Jason Peters and Tyron Smith made the All-Decade team, but their fellow NFC East tackle deserves some attention as well. While Williams’ only All-Pro honor came in the form of a Second-Team selection in 2015, he made seven consecutive Pro Bowls before sitting out last season.
During the 2010s, Witten went to five Pro Bowls and earned a First-Team All-Pro bid. He never missed a start, excluding the 2018 season, which he spent in retirement, and amassed 692 receptions, 7,012 yards, and 45 touchdowns.
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