The NFL and Pro Football Hall of Fame have revealed the 2010s All-Decade Team to honor the league’s best over the past 10 years. We’re talking Top Gun — the best of the best. But who was the best of the best of the best? I set out to answer this impossible prompt below, ranking all 52 players who were named to the prestigious roster.
My rankings criteria involved accounting for the major accolades the All-Decade Team members earned from 2010 to ’19 — All-Pros, Pro Bowls, MVPs, Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year awards, etc. — combined with their respective impact on the game, something I admit is far less objective and harder to measure.
Look, all of these guys are phenomenal. Remember that when you start lampooning me on social media because your favorite player isn’t as high on this list as you might like.
Note: Players are listed with the teams they played for from 2010 to ’19 only.
San Francisco 49ers (2010-14), Indianapolis Colts (2015-17), Miami Dolphins (2018), Buffalo Bills (2019)
Gore’s Hall of Fame-caliber career dates all the way back to 2005, and the RB was still finding ways to contribute in 2019 at age 36. Although his production tailed off toward the end of the decade, he did manage to top 1,000 yards rushing five times and earn three
Pro Bowl nods during the period.
Cleveland Browns (2010-15), Atlanta Falcons (2016-19)
Mack consistently graded out as a top-10 player at his position, per Pro Football Focus, including a top-ranked finish among centers for the 2016 season. He made six Pro Bowls and earned second-team All-Pro three times, starting all 16 games in nine of his 10 campaigns during the decade.
Philadelphia Eagles (2010-19)
Here’s the crazy thing about Peters: He’s put together a 16-year career that’s included nine Pro Bowls (six during the 2010s), two first-team All-Pro selections (both in the 2010s) and a
Super Bowl title after going undrafted in 2004. Peters is such a bad man that he earned the second of his two All-Pros in 2013 — one year after he
ruptured his Achilles twice within a two-month period. The rock-solid tackle was PFF’s second-highest graded player at his position (93.6) during the decade.
Arizona Cardinals (2010-16), Jacksonville Jaguars (2017-19)
He’s a five-time Pro Bowler and a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year winner who made waves when he joined the
Jacksonville Jaguars as a free agent in 2017. He earned his first-ever All-Pro selection and was the Pro Football Writers of America’s Defensive Player of the Year that season.
Kansas City Chiefs (2016-19)
While Hill has developed into one of the game’s elite receivers, he earned his spot on the roster for his work on special teams. He has the most punt return yards (1,009) in the NFL since entering the league, while boasting the second-highest yards-per-punt-return mark
of the decade (11.9 yards, min. 50 returns), behind only Devin Hester.
Arizona Cardinals (2010-19)
Fitzgerald has been one of the NFL’s most productive receivers for nearly 20 years. He had three seasons with at least 100 catches and 1,000 yards from 2015 to ’17, including a league-high 107 receptions in 2016 — the same year he was named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. Fitz would rank much higher if this were an All-Millennium Team.
San Diego Chargers (2010), New Orleans Saints (2011-13), Philadelphia Eagles (2014-19)
One of the game’s elite returners and one of the most versatile offensive players of the last 15 years, Sproles is now just the fourth player in NFL history to be named to an All-Decade Team at multiple positions (punt returner and flex).
Chicago Bears (2010-13), Atlanta Falcons (2014-15), Baltimore Ravens/Seattle Seahawks (2016)
This one is really tough. Hester is obviously a Hall of Famer and would get my vote for the best returner of all time. But based only on the 2010s? Unfortunately, I just can’t move him up any higher … as much as I want to.
New England Patriots (2012-15), Arizona Cardinals (2016-19)
Super Bowl with the
Patriots, then was shipped to the
Cardinals at just 26 years old. Jones didn’t miss a beat away from Bill Belichick, though, posting four consecutive double-digit sack seasons in the desert, including 19 last year and a league-leading 17 in 2017.
St.Louis/Los Angeles Rams (2012-19)
Look, Hekker would’ve had my (imaginary) vote for
Super Bowl MVP if the
Rams had managed to beat the
Super Bowl LIII, when Hekker punted nine times at 46.3 yards per punt. Instead he’ll have to settle for the best punter in the league (and on these rankings).
Minnesota Vikings (2013-16), Oakland Raiders (2017), New England Patriots (2018), Chicago Bears (2019)
Seems strange to have Patterson higher on this list than Hester, but CP was fantastic during the decade. Despite getting a late start, he ranked first in kick return yards (6,101), TDs (seven) and average (29.9 yards, min. 20 returns) during the 10-year period.
Kansas City Chiefs (2013-19)
After overcoming a slow start to his career, Kelce is now arguably the best tight end in the game (depending on how you feel about George Kittle). He had 200 combined receptions in the past two years and four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons to go along with his five straight
Pro Bowl nods.
San Diego Chargers (2010-15), Baltimore Ravens (2016-18), Los Angeles Rams (2019)
A second-round pick by the
Chargers in 2007, Weddle didn’t really establish himself as one of the NFL’s best safeties until 2011, when he tied for the league lead in picks (seven) and notched the first of two first-team All-Pro honors. The recently retired defender earned his reputation for being a trusted leader and playmaker.
Pittsburgh Steelers (2010-19)
The premier center during the decade. When you think of the
Steelers‘ high-octane offenses from the 2010s, your fantasy-centric brain likely goes directly to the Killer Bs (
Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown). But don’t forget about the eight-time Pro Bowler up front who’s been the linchpin to a top-end O-line. There’s a reason why so many running backs have had success in Pittsburgh over the past 10 years.
Arizona Cardinals (2011-19)
Peterson has been one of the top (and few remaining) shutdown cornerbacks in the league for years. And not only was he extremely talented, but he didn’t miss a single game due to injury from 2011 to ’19 (including 128 consecutive starts).
Buffalo Bills (2010), Seattle Seahawks (2010-15, ’19), Oakland Raiders (2017-18)
Beast Mode was as bruising, balanced and entertaining a running back as we’ve ever seen. He reminded us of that, week in and week out, during the first half of the decade, when he led the league in rushing touchdowns (2013 and ’14) and appeared in two Super Bowls (winning one). You have to wonder what his already impressive legacy would be if, you know, he had gotten the
call from the 1-yard line.
Philadelphia Eagles (2010-14), Buffalo Bills (2015-18), Kansas City Chiefs (2019)
The dual-threat running back led the NFL in rushing yards (1,607) in 2013 and rushing touchdowns (17) in 2011. But the thing that made him so dangerous for so much of the decade was his receiving ability out of the backfield; he’s recorded 40-plus receptions in a season seven times over his career (six in the 2010s).
Kansas City Chiefs (2010-18)
Berry was the fifth overall pick in the 2010
NFL Draft and quickly became one of the top players at his position. An All-Pro in 2013, Berry was forced to cut his 2014 season short after he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He recovered and returned the following year to earn All-Pro honors once again, nabbing the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award.
New York Jets (2010-12, ’15-16), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2013), New England Patriots (2014), Kansas City Chiefs (2017)
Revis Island was one of the loneliest places on the football field for years. And there is no doubt Revis was one of the best to ever do it. But the lockdown corner of his generation gets knocked here because three of his highly productive seasons (including an All-Pro year) occurred during the 2000s.
San Francisco 49ers (2010-14)
Willis should have been selected to the
Hall of Fame in 2020. I thought he was
one of the locks. Even though he retired in 2014 and played just five seasons in the 2010s, he was as dominant during that stretch (three All-Pros, four Pro Bowls) as nearly anybody on this list. I’m baffled as to why he didn’t get into Canton this year.
Detroit Lions (2010-15)
Like Patrick Willis,
Megatron is a Hall of Famer for sure despite his short(ish) career. He posted at least 1,000 receiving yards in each of his six seasons during the decade, including his NFL-record 1,964 yards in 2012. He also averaged 100-plus yards receiving per game three times, earning All-Pro honors in each of those campaigns. Johnson was an absolute nightmare to defend and an absolute marvel to watch.
Seattle Seahawks (2011-17), San Francisco 49ers (2018-19)
Sherman was a converted receiver at Stanford and a fifth-round pick of the
Seahawks. The unheralded corner then worked (and trash-talked) his way into becoming one of the vocal leaders of the Legion of Boom and a
Super Bowl champion. The decade’s leader in INTs (35) tore his Achilles in 2017, and you had to wonder if he would ever be the same. He was. And in 2019, Revis made his third
Super Bowl appearance of the 2010s.
Seattle Seahawks (2010-18), Baltimore Ravens (2019)
When Pete Carroll took over the
Seahawks in 2010, his first ever draft pick for the franchise was Thomas, with the 14th overall selection — Carroll even passed over his own guy, Taylor Mays, who had played for him at USC, to take Thomas. Thomas rewarded Carroll’s faith by becoming a key member of the Legion of Boom. Thomas would garner six
Pro Bowl selections and three consecutive first-team All-Pro nods (tied for most by a safety in the decade) while helping the
Seahawks to their first ever
Super Bowl win, then was named to a seventh
Pro Bowl in his first season with the
Ravens in 2019.
Baltimore Ravens (2012-19)
I know a lot of folks will be cross that a kicker has landed this high in the rankings. No. 1: I’m a
Bears fan, so you’re lucky he’s not first overall; and 2) Let’s be fair about this and recognize Tucker as one of only
eight unanimous selections to this team. There really is no other kicker in the game who is as consistent or reliable. So, if anything, I might be underrating his value a little bit.
Baltimore Ravens (2010-19)
Ravens unanimously selected to this team, here comes the
recently retired Yanda. Honestly, former general manager Ozzie Newsome is never given enough credit for how well he built this
Ravens franchise. Yanda, a third-round pick out of Iowa, made
eight Pro Bowls during the 2010s, including back-to-back nods at ages 34 and 35, and helped bring another Lombardi Trophy back to Baltimore. Tired of hearing me wax poetic about an interior O-lineman? Maybe you’d prefer to hear several of his All-Decade Team compatriots
sing his praises.
Dallas Cowboys (2014-19)
I was at Radio City Music Hall when the
Cowboys selected Martin 16th overall. The crowd was ready to pop so hard for Jerry Jones and Co. to pick Johnny Manziel in that spot, like it was the 2014 Royal Rumble. But then Dallas took Martin, and what a pick it was. As great as Marshal Yanda was, I would’ve sided with the four-time All-Pro Martin as the unanimous selection of the two. I’d like to meet the person who didn’t vote for him.
Atlanta Falcons (2011-19)
Julio is awesome. I could probably just stop right there, but then you’d miss out on all these juicy stats the NFL research team compiled: He ranks first in receiving yards (12,125) and third in receptions (797) during the decade, is the only player in NFL history with five straight seasons with at least 1,400 receiving yards and owns the best career yards per game mark (96.2). The only knock against him is that his touchdown totals could be higher. But I blame the
Falcons coaching staff for that more than I do Julio.
Oakland Raiders (2014-17), Chicago Bears (2018-19)
Chicago Bears great should probably be first on this list. I know, I know. But being objective here, Mack has been a consistent nuisance to quarterbacks since the
Raiders selected him out of Buffalo with the fifth overall pick in 2014. He won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2016 and is the only defender with 60-plus sacks, 20-plus forced fumbles and two-plus INTs since 2014, per NFL Media research. His trade to the
Bears sent waves throughout the league in 2018. And while that doesn’t really have anything to do with his place on this list, I like recognizing that deal as one of those rare occurrences where both teams can legitimately feel happy with the outcome, with the
Raiders landing four picks, including two first-rounders.
Seattle Seahawks (2012-19)
Wagner is unquestionably one of the best middle linebackers I’ve ever seen play. This must be what it was like for my dad to watch Mike Singletary all of those years ago. Obviously, we know how good the
Seahawks defense has been. But it’s still a little stunning to check Wagner’s career resume and see five first-team All-Pro selections (four consecutive) and a second-team selection, to boot. If anything, I might not be giving him enough respect here.
Pittsburgh Steelers (2010-18), New England Patriots (2019)
I’ve said this before, but AB is the
best receiver of the last 20 years. He’s the only player in NFL history with six consecutive 100-catch seasons and ranks second in the decade in receiving yards (11,263), receptions (841) and receiving first downs (549). Brown has had his fair share of issues off the field over the last 18 months. But his production from 2010 through ’18 speaks for itself.
New England Patriots (2010-18)
Gronkowski is the greatest tight end in NFL history. He scored 79 career receiving touchdowns, including a league-high 17 in 2011. The three-time
Super Bowl champ had double-digit scores in five of his nine seasons. As amazing as he was as a receiver (and believe me, he was), dude was even better as a blocker and was a huge part of the
Patriots‘ rushing attack.
Minnesota Vikings (2010-16), New Orleans Saints/Arizona Cardinals (2017), Washington Redskins (2018-19)
While it’s difficult for a running back to maintain a high level of success for an entire decade, Peterson came pretty close; he averaged at least 4.2 yards per carry in each of the seven seasons since 2010 in which he had at least 200 carries. He led the NFL in rushing twice, including in 2012, when he ran for 2,097 yards and became only the third non-QB to win MVP in the last 20 seasons. That the man they call All Day is still productive at age 35 is both surprising and totally inevitable.
Green Bay Packers (2010-19)
Rodgers was fantastic during the early part of the decade, when he won MVP twice (2011, 2014). He also guided the
Packers to a title in
Super Bowl XLV and was selected as the game’s MVP. His ball security and overall efficiency for much of that span (he finished the decade with a sick 305:63 TD-to-INT ratio) is nearly unmatched, while his 103.6 passer rating ranks No. 1 among passers with at least 1,500 attempts. If you’re wondering why he’s not a touch higher, it’s because the bane of every
Bears fan has seen his production and precision decline over the last three years.
Cleveland Browns (2010-17)
Another unanimous selection on the team, and for good reason. The
Browns selected Thomas with the third overall pick in 2007, and he didn’t miss a single snap until 2017.
We’re talking more than 10,000 snaps, people. On the
Browns. Think about that. Thomas was an All-Pro selection in six of the eight seasons he played in the 2010s (including his second-team nod in 2012), was the highest-graded tackle by PFF (93.8) and, simply put, one of the best linemen of all time.
Carolina Panthers (2012-19)
in January, and I found it amusing people were debating his
Hall of Fame worthiness. He’s getting in. Dude followed up his 2012 Defensive Rookie of the Year campaign by winning the 2013 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award and was selected to seven All-Pro teams (including five first-team bids). In an era with some pretty damn good linebackers, Kuechly was as versatile and dependable as they come — a sure tackler who could drop back in coverage and rush the passer when needed. He was one of the best of his generation, this generation.
Houston Texans (2011-19)
Watt has battled through some injuries over the last four years, so if you’re critical of him ranking this high or being one of the unanimous picks, then recency bias might be clouding your judgement a bit. Allow me the opportunity to remind you of just how extraordinary Watt was during this decade. He was a
three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year winner and a five-time first-team All-Pro. He posted 20.5 sacks in two separate seasons, finishing the decade tied for second-most in the NFL (96), while ranking first in QB hits (265) and tackles for loss (158). And he was also a great dude, winning the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year in 2017.
St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams (2014-19)
There are going to be people who will say Donald is the best player in the NFL right now. Which he very might well be. But this ranking measures what a guy did for an entire decade, so … he was named 2014 Defensive Rookie of the Year … earned five straight first-team All-Pros … won two NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards … was the 2018 sack leader
(as an interior lineman) … You’re right, he might be the best player in the league right now. Getting the
Rams to the
Super Bowl was also amazing, but he’s still just top three for me.
Denver Broncos (2011-19)
I fully accept that this might be an unpopular opinion (
I mean, that is what I do, after all), especially because most people would likely favor Donald and his two DPOYs over Miller’s zero. But the
Broncos‘ edge rusher finished the decade with seven All-Pro selections (three first-team honors), a league-leading 106 sacks and a Defensive Rookie of the Year award. Most importantly, though, he won a
Super Bowl MVP award (in
Super Bowl 50). Donald might have gotten one of those, too, had the
Rams beaten the Pats a few years back. But he didn’t. Miller did. And if quarterbacks get judged on Super Bowls, it’s only fair to give credit to a guy who basically willed Peyton Manning and the
Broncos to a title.
New England Patriots (2010-19)
It’s a chalk pick, I know. Brady has never been able to post the passing numbers that many of his contemporaries put up during the decade, though I would like to point out that not only did he pace the league in passing touchdowns in 2010 and 2015, but he was first-team All-Pro and the league leader in passing yards in 2017 — at
40 years old. And while he and
Aaron Rodgers were the only two players during the decade to win two MVPs, Brady has 32 more wins in the decade than the
Packers‘ QB (138 to 106, including playoffs). But again, it comes down to titles. Brady had the
Patriots in the AFC Championship Game
eight times in 10 years, winning five conference titles and three
Super Bowls (plus two
Super Bowl MVPs).
There’s no sense throwing more stats or accolades at you, because it would all be in the service of just telling you something you already know: Brady was the best player of the decade.
Follow Adam Rank on Twitter @adamrank.