US Sports Veteran
With the 2019 season officially in the books, another decade of NFL football nears its end. With most of the statistical data, accolades, and Super Bowls from the 2010s on record, I thought putting together an all-decade team before the NFL creates its official team at the end of the postseason would be fun. So, this article awards first and second-team designations to players at every position, just like the annual All-Pro teams do.
Before getting into the actual team, there are a few things we need to cover. Sometimes the term “First All-Pro Team” will appear. This is out of convenience and refers to a First Team All-Pro selection. The Associated Press (AP) released the All-Pro selections for the 2019-20 season in time for them to be in this article.
If you don’t see your favorite players immediately, make sure to continue reading. Unique flex and defensive backs positions allow for extra players on each unit. Also, so we can avoid any controversy surrounding using a 3-4 versus a 4-3 defense, two defensive ends, inside linebackers, and outside linebackers appear.
Players made the team based on their statistical output, accolades, dominance at their position, and win totals. So, even if a player retired five years into the decade, they can still appear if they played overwhelmingly well. However, players with more experience during the decade do hold an advantage.
Now, let’s see which players dominated the 2010s at their respective positions.
Quarterback- Tom Brady
Brady claimed two MVPs during the 2010s and led the New England Patriots to three Super Bowl victories. The Patriots played in four of the past five Super Bowls, extending their dynasty into the late 2010s. Last decade, Brady also surpassed several other legendary quarterbacks and became the winningest quarterback of all-time.
Second Team- Drew Brees
Only one running back won a league MVP award during the 2010s. The season after tearing his ACL and MCL, Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards. He also led the league in rushing during the 2015 season. The long-time Minnesota Viking currently is fifth all-time in rushing yards and fourth in rushing touchdowns.
Second Team- LeSean McCoy
To be fair, Tolbert split time between the traditional fullback position and running back. His touches at running back increase his statistics a little, buy Tolbert did receive two First Team All-Pro nods during the 2010s. Vonta Leach might’ve claimed this position if he played more than just four seasons during the decade.
Second Team- Kyle Juszczyk
Wide Receiver- Calvin Johnson
Megatron only played in six seasons during the 2010s, but they were all Pro Bowl years. During that limited time, he was a First Team All-Pro three times and set a new single-season receiving yards record. Johnson also led the NFL in receiving yards twice and receptions once.
Second Team- DeAndre Hopkins
Wide Receiver- Antonio Brown
Recently, Brown is problematic. However, when his behavior held up, Brown dominated the gridiron. The 2010 sixth-round pick made seven Pro Bowls and was selected as a First Team All-Pro four times. He led the NFL in receptions and receiving yards twice and receiving touchdowns once. Only Julio Jones racked up more receiving yards during the 2010s.
Second Team- Larry Fitzgerald
A physically dominating player, Gronkowski stood at 6-6 and weighed just under 270 lbs. When healthy, he was unstoppable. Injuries did force the three-time Super Bowl champion to retire early, but no one can deny the stranglehold he had on the tight end position for most of the decade. The Associated Press (AP) selected Gronkowski as a First Team All-Pro four times.
Second Team- Travis Kelce
We can’t leave Jones off of this team. In nine seasons, he amassed 12,125 receiving yards, which is the most by any player during the decade. Jones led the NFL in receiving yards per game three times, total receiving yards twice, and receptions once. In 2019, Jones made his seventh Pro Bowl and just missed posting his sixth consecutive 1,400-yard season by six yards. Jones made three Second All-Pro Teams and two First All-Pro Teams during the 2010s.
Second Team- Marshawn Lynch
The career Cleveland Brown missed most of the 2017 season and retired afterward, but he cemented himself as a first-ballot future Hall of Famer earlier in the decade. Thomas made seven Pro Bowls during the 2010s, and the AP selected him as a First Team All-Pro five times.
Second Team- Jason Peters
Guard- Zack Martin
The Notre Dame product only entered the NFL in 2014, but he more than made his mark on the decade. In six seasons, Martin made six Pro Bowls and four First All-Pro Teams. For several years, the Dallas Cowboys boasted one of the best offensive lines and running games in the league.
Second Team- Jahri Evans
Center- Maurkice Pouncey
While his play in 2019 did not live up to previous seasons, Pouncey built his legacy during the 2010s. Despite missing most of 2013 and all of 2015, Pouncey made eight Pro Bowls during the decade. The AP selected him as a First Team All-Pro twice and Second Team All-Pro three times.
Second Team- Jason Kelce
Guard- Marshal Yanda
Drafted in 2007, the career Baltimore Raven came into his own during the 2010s. From 2011 through 2016, Yanda strung together six Pro Bowl appearances. He added two more in 2018 and 2019. The AP selected Yanda as a First Team All-Pro in 2014 and 2015. He made Second All-Pro Teams in 2011, 2012, 2016, 2018, and 2019.
Second Team- David DeCastro
While injuries and age are sapping some of Smith’s once-great play, the left tackle stood with the greatest players at his position during the mid-2010s. Beginning in 2013, Smith made seven consecutive Pro Bowls. The AP named him two Second and First All-Pro Teams during that time.
Second Team- Andrew Whitworth
Defensive End- J.J. Watt
While he missed most of 2016, 2017, and 2018 with injuries, Watt is still a future first-ballot Hall of Famer. Between 2012 and 2015, Watt won the Defensive Player of the Year award three times, tying Lawrence Taylor for the most ever. Watt is also the only player in NFL history with multiple 20-sack seasons. During his five First Team All-Pro years, Watt amassed 85 sacks and 215 quarterback hits.
Second Team- Calais Campbell
Defensive End- Khalil Mack
Technically, Mack plays outside linebacker for the Chicago Bears, but he spent time as a defensive end in Oakland. While his play slipped in 2019, Mack still made his fifth consecutive Pro Bowl. The 2016 Defensive Player of the Year made three First All-Pro Teams during the 2010s despite only entering the NFL in 2014.
Second Team- Cameron Jordan
Defensive Tackle- Aaron Donald
Another 2014 draft pick, Donald took the NFL by storm. He made the Pro Bowl in all six of his seasons in the league and made five consecutive First All-Pro Teams. In 2017, Donald won the Defensive Player of the Year award. He repeated the feat in 2018, leading the NFL with 20.5 sacks and 25 tackles for loss. In six seasons, Donald accumulated 72 sacks.
Second Team- Ndamukong Suh
Defensive Tackle- Geno Atkins
After staring one game during his 2010 rookie season, Atkins took over as a starter in 2011 and never looked back. In all likelihood a future Hall of Famer, Atkins made eight Pro Bowls in the nine seasons following 2010. He only missed going in 2013 because an injury held him to nine games played. The aging defensive tackle made First All-Pro Teams in 2012 and 2015.
Second Team- Gerald McCoy
The MVP of Super Bowl 50, Miller is second among active players in career sacks with 106. The 2011 Defensive Rookie of the Year served a suspension in 2013, but he got his career back on track afterward. In nine seasons, Miller made eight Pro Bowls, four Second All-Pro Teams, and three First All-Pro Teams. In 2018, the AP selected Miller as a Second Team All-Pro at both the linebacker and defensive end positions.
Second Team- Terrell Suggs
Overlooked for most of the decade, Jones made a lot of noise in 2019. His 19 sacks finished second in the NFL, and his name is in contention for the Defensive Player of the Year award. In eight seasons, Jones recorded 96 sacks. He accumulated 49 of those sacks in just the past three seasons. Jones is 29 years old.
Second Team- Cameron Wake
The 2012 Defensive Rookie of the Year and 2013 Defensive Player of the Year, Kuechly is bound for Canton when he retires. Kuechly led the NFL in tackles in 2012 and 2014, and he finished fifth in the league this past season. Despite some injuries, Kuechly made seven Pro Bowls and five First All-Pro Teams during the 2010s. For reference, Brian Urlacher made eight Pro Bowls and four First All-Pro Teams. The AP named Kuechly a Second Team All-Pro for 2019.
Second Team- Lavonte David
Wagner entered the NFL at the same time as Kuechly (2012), and he built his legacy in Seattle. A Super Bowl champion, Wagner captured the nation’s attention in 2014, when he made the first of six consecutive Pro Bowls. The AP selected Wagner as a First Team All-Pro in 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. Seattle’s star middle linebacker led the NFL in tackles during the 2016 and 2019 seasons.
Second Team- Patrick Willis
Cornerback- Richard Sherman
After his final season with the Seattle Seahawks ended because of injuries, some speculated that Sherman would never recover. However, he made the Pro Bowl and became a Second Team All-Pro in his second year with the San Francisco 49ers. The 2011 fifth-round pick went to five Pro Bowls, two Super Bowls, and made three First All-Pro Teams during the 2010s. After Darrelle Revis retired, Sherman took over the role of the league’s best shutdown corner. Sherman’s and Aqib Talib’s 35 interceptions are the most interceptions among active players.
Second Team- Aqib Talib
Revis’ prime began in 2008, but the future Hall of Famer fought his way into the 2010s. While 2009, when he intercepted six passes and defensed 31, was Revis’ best year, the AP still made him a First Team All-Pro in 2010, 2011, and 2014. Revis also made Pro Bowls in 2013 and 2015, giving him five during the decade. While Revis Island experienced a sharp decline toward the end of his career, he served as the first true shutdown corner of the 2010s.
Second Team- Stephon Gilmore
The season after fracturing his leg, Thomas made his seventh Pro Bowl. The former X-factor of the Legion of Boom is not as dominant as during his Seattle days, but Thomas is still one of the game’s smartest safeties. From 2012 to 2014, Thomas made three consecutive First All-Pro Teams. He also made Second All-Pro Teams in 2011 and 2017. With Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed experiencing final gasps of success early in the decade before retiring, Thomas became the NFL’s best safety.
Second Team- Harrison Smith
Berry missed a lot of time. Whether he was battling cancer or more common football injuries, the Tennessee product never strung together three healthy seasons in a row. However, the AP did make Berry a First Team All-Pro in 2013, 2015, and 2016. His three First Team All-Pro tie Earl Thomas’ for the most by a safety during the decade. Berry is only 31 years old, but it seems like the career Kansas City Chief won’t make a return to the NFL.
Second Team- Eric Weddle
Defensive Back- Patrick Peterson
Some people won’t like that Peterson didn’t qualify as a regular cornerback. While Peterson played at a more consistent level throughout the 2010s than Revis or Sherman, the other two shutdown corners’ peaks were higher. However, Peterson’s eight consecutive Pro Bowl appearances to start his career are still impressive. As are his three First Team All-Pro selections, although one of them came as a return man.
Second Team- Chris Harris
Kicker- Justin Tucker
The internet lights up whenever Tucker misses a field goal. It’s completely unexpected and evokes a reasonably strong response from people who assume he’s automatic from anywhere. Tucker, a four-time First Team All-Pro, made 90.8% of his field goals and 99.0% of his extra points during the 2010s.
Second Team- Stephen Gostkowski
While he did not make the Pro Bowl in 2018 or 2019, Hekker put up incredible numbers early in his career. The Los Angeles Rams’ punter made Pro Bowls and First All-Pro Teams in 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2017. In 2015, he led the NFL in yards per punt, and he led the league in total punt yards in 2015 and 2016.
Second Team- Andy Lee
Perhaps the greatest return man in history, Hester kicked off the decade by returning 33 punts for 564 yards and three touchdowns during the 2010 season. He returned four more for scores during the rest of the decade and became the all-time leader in combined kick and punt return touchdowns.
Second Team- Darren Sproles
Patterson entered the NFL in 2013 as a highly touted speedster. However, he failed to find a spot in the league as a traditional wide receiver. Instead, Patterson made a home for himself as a kick returner. He returned seven kicks for touchdowns during the 2010s and led the NFL in yards per kick return three times. Only Josh Cribbs and Leon Washington have more career kick return touchdowns (eight) in history.
Second Team- Jacoby Jones
This is one of the easiest decisions to make on the list. A fifth-round pick in 2008, Slater became a household special teams name during the 2010s. He made eight Pro Bowls, a record among special teamers, and perhaps only Steve Tasker is a more well-known player at the position historically.
Second Team- Justin Bethel
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