The end of a decade is the perfect time to look back and see what has transpired over the last ten years. Which players have stood out. Who has dominated. And what player has received the most plaudits. With all that in mind we (like many sites and news outlets!) wanted to put together a team of the decade.
Players were nominated by Jonny Thrash and Griff with myself deciding as defacto GM. I also had the ability to use a veto once and select my own player.
For the offence we agreed on one quarterback, two wider receivers, one running back, one tight end and one flex that could come from each of the skill positions. We’d also select the offensive line of course (two tackles, two guards and a centre). So here’s what we came up with
Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers
This took longer to decide then I thought and with Tom Brady not even nominated I almost used the veto very early on. But John made a good argument in that Rodgers is the better quarterback (despite Brady’s domination in Super Bowl wins) and during the early part of the decade had dominated the league. During the decade he went to seven Pro Bowls, was All-Pro twice, won a Super Bowl and was league MVP twice. Griff made a great argument for Russel Wilson who is of course an elite quarterback, but he’s just not on the same level as Aaron Rodgers.
Honorable mentions for Drew Brees and Peyton Manning.
Running Back: Adrian Peterson
The running back position was less debatable with all in agreement that Peterson had dominated the league, specifically in the early part of the decade. Peterson came agonisingly close to breaking the season rushing yards mark in 2012 when he ran for 2,097 yards. Even in 2018, with a lowly Redskins team, Peterson topped the 1,000 yard mark.
Honourable mentions for LeSean McCoy (who led the league in total rushing yards through the decade) and Le’Veon Bell.
Wide Receivers: Calvin Johnson & Julio Jones
No room for Antonio Brown who got a mention but despite retiring earlier than expected, Calvin Johnson dominated the wide receiver position for most of the decade. He led the league in receiving yards in 2011 & 2012 with 1,681 and 1,964 (a record for a season) went to six Pro-Bowls and a three time All-Pro, he’d be the first name on many a team sheet if available.
Likewise, Julio Jones has had a stellar decade since GM Thomas Dimitroff aggresively traded up in the first round of the 2011 draft to grab the two time All-Pro wide receiver. Jones has over 12k receiving yards in his career to date and 57 TDs (and lets face it, that should be more if he’d had a decent offensive play caller). When the Falcons need a big play, it’s Jones that gets the ball
Honourable mentions for Antonio Brown, Larry Fitzgerald, AJ Green and DeAndre Hopkins.
Tight End: Rob Gronkowski
This was the easiest decision of the whole process. There have been other good tight ends in the decade but none have been as dominant as Gronkowski. Five pro bowls, 4 All-Pros, three Super Bowls and 76 TDs in an eight year career in the NFL where he had only one season that he made 16 starts in the regular season – how those stats would have increased without those injuries. Despite those injuries, Gronk was dominant in the league and for a number of years would be the first tight end taken in fantasy football (often in the first or second round!).
Honourable mentions for Antonio Gates, Greg Olsen and Travis Kelce.
Flex: Marshawn Lynch (running back)
Beast Mode. Just say those words to an NFL fan and they’ll know who you’re talking about. Say ‘beast quake’ and many will remember that run against the Saints in the playoffs. Like Rodgers, during his peak Lynch was one of the best running backs in the league and just had to be in our team. One Super Bowl win and, lets face it, that should be two if Wilson had just given him the ball on the goal line!
Tackles: Joe Thomas & Tyron Smith
Again, two picks that were straight forward enough. Joe Thomas was the leagues premier left tackle for a number of years on a bad Browns side. He went to the pro bowl in every year between 2007 and 2016 and was an all pro five times in the decade. He also didn’t miss a game until 2017 where he suffered an injury which ultimately led to his retirement.
Tyron Smith was drafted 9th overall by the Cowboys in 2011 and is one of the best picks that Jerry Jones has made in recent years. Smith is most noticable when he’s not there – remember when the Falcons Adrian Clayborn sacked Dak Prescott six times in a game? Yep, Smith was missing! Seven pro bowls and two all-pros, Smith continues to be a stalwart in Dallas.
Honourable mentions for Jason Peters, Joe Staley, Trent Williams and Andrew Whitworth,
Guards: Marshall Yanda and Zack Martin
Despite his years, veteran guard Yanda continues to be a premier guard and one of the key reasons for the success of the running game that the Ravens enjoyed in 2019. Eight pro-bowls and two All-Pros in the decade, Yanda also won the Super Bowl with the Ravens in 2012.
Zack Martin has missed just two games since he came into the league as the 16th overall pick for the Cowboys in 2014. In six years, he’s been to six pro bowlss and has been an All Pro four times. Whilst he doesn’t have as many years under his belt compared to others on this list he is undoubtedly a worthy member.
Honourable mentions for Evan Mathis, Josh Sitton and David DeCastro.
Centre: Maurkice Pouncey
You look back at centres for the decade and you realise how many good ones we’ve seen. However we went with Pouncey who’s been to seven pro bowls and was All-Pro twice. He’s been a key member of the offensive line which has kept Ben healthy and given Le’Veon the holes to dart through and cement himself as an elite running back.
Honourable mentions for Alex Mack, Travis Frederick, Ryan Kalil and Jason Kelce.
Going to cover these up here as well! We were looking for a kicker, a punter and a special teams expert (return man or ‘gunner’)
Kicker: Justin Tuck (absolutely no arguments here)
Punter: Jonny Hecker
Flex: Matthew Slater