Rick Gosselin's 2010 NFL all-decade team
QB—Tom Brady. The first name you pencil in for this team – or any NFL history team, for that matter – is Brady. He went to nine Pro Bowls and took the New England Patriots to five Super Bowls in the 2010 decade, winning three of them. He was a two-time NFL MVP and became the one of only two active players named to the league’s 100th anniversary team. Brady orchestrated the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history in 2017, rallying the Patriots from a 25-point deficit in the final 24 minutes for an overtime victory over the Falcons. He set Super Bowl records with 43 completions and 466 passing yards on the way to game MVP honors.
HB—Adrian Peterson. The NFL moved away from the running game as the decade progressed but it never moved away from Peterson. He posted the only 2,000-yard rushing season of the 2010 decade on his way to NFL MVP honors in 2012. He rushed for 1,000 yards in five seasons during the decade, including a 1,042-yard effort for the Redskins in 2018 at the age of 33. Peterson also won another rushing title with the Vikings in 2015.
FB—Kyle Juszczyk. The Associated Press stopped picking an all-pro fullback in 2016 but that didn’t mean the position went away. Juszczyk went to four consecutive Pro Bowls from 2016 through 2019 as a player who could block, catch and run. He went to that first Pro Bowl with the Ravens and the last three with the 49ers. And a tip of the cap to the Ivy League, by the way. Juszczyk was a fourth-round pick out of Harvard.
WR—Antonio Brown. Brown may have had his issues off the field but not on it. He strung together six consecutive 100-catch seasons for the Steelers from 2013 through 2018. Brown led the league in catches twice, receiving yards twice and touchdowns once on his way to seven Pro Bowls and four first-team all-pro selections. As a bonus, he gave the Steelers four touchdowns on punt returns and another on a kickoff return.
WR—Calvin Johnson. Megatron came out of Georgia Tech at 6-5, 237 pounds with 4.29 speed – and played every bit to that size and speed in the NFL with the Detroit Lions. He set an NFL record with his 1,964 yards receiving in 2012 and also led the league in catches that season with 122. He strung together six consecutive years of 1,000-plus yards before retiring after the 2015 season at the age of 30. He went to the Pro Bowl all six of his seasons in the decade and was a three-time first-team all-pro.
TE—Rob Gronkowski. Brady and Gronkowski shared a trifecta. They were teammates on the Patriots, the NFL's 100th anniversary team and this all-decade team. In 2011 Gronk produced the greatest season ever by an NFL tight end, catching 90 passes for 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns. He broke the yardage mark by Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow that stood for 30 years and the touchdown mark by Antonio Gates that stood for six seasons. Gronkowski retired after the 2018 season with a career average of 15.1 yards per catch. The Hall of Fame has enshrined wide receivers of late with career averages of 14.8 yards per catch (Terrell Owens), 13.2 (Marvin Harrison) and 12.6 (Cris Carter).
LT—Joe Thomas. Give me the best offensive lineman from Wisconsin every year and I’ll build a quality NFL offensive line. I’d start with Mike Webster at center and just as quickly plug in Joe Thomas at left tackle. Cleveland selected Thomas with the third overall pick of the 2007 draft and not only did he become a walk-in starter for the Browns, he became a walk-in starter on the AFC Pro Bowl team. He started 167 consecutive games and played a record 10,363 consecutive snaps before suffering a triceps injury in the seventh game of the 2017 season. That ended both his season and his string of consecutive Pro Bowls at 10. He retired at season’s end as a six-time first-team all-pro.
RT—Mitchell Schwartz. Historically, right tackle is the power tackle and left tackle the finesse. The left tackle protects the quarterback’s blind side so they tend to get favorable treatment in the Pro Bowl voting. Pass blockers are popular, not so the run blockers in the right side. But this spot goes to Schwartz, who excels at both for the Chiefs. He blocked for three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons by Jamaal Charles early in the decade and an NFL rushing title by Kareem Hunt in 2017. Of late, he has earned his paycheck keeping pass rushers off QB Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs allowed only 25 sacks this season on their way to the Super Bowl, third fewest in the league.
LG—Marshal Yanda. Right guard was stacked with elite blockers this decade with Yanda, Zach Martin, Jahri Evans and David DeCastro. Yanda started at both right and left tackle and right and left guard for the Ravens this decade, so I’m going to pencil him in at left guard in an effort to recognize his eight Pro Bowl appearances and two first-team all-decade selections on this team. It doesn’t matter where you put him – just get Yanda on this team. He belongs.
RG—Zack Martin. Martin gets the nod at right guard on the strength of his six Pro Bowls and three first-team all-pro selections. He’s only been in the league for six seasons, by the way, but has already blocked for three NFL rushing champions -- DeMarco Murray in 2014 and Ezekiel Elliott in 2016 and 2018. Give a very strong honorable mention here to Jahri Evans, the only other guard selected first-team all-pro three times in the 2010 decade.
C—Jason Kelce. Kelce arrived in Philadelphia in 2011 as a sixth-round draft pick out of Cincinnati but started on opening day – and every day thereafter when he’s been healthy. He has started all 126 games he has played for the Eagles and has been the first-team all-pro center each of the last three seasons. That’s tops among all centers this decade. Jason is the older brother of perennial Pro Bowl tight end Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs – and Jason beat Travis to a Super Bowl with the Eagles in 2018.
SE—J.J. Watt. After Brady, Watt is the next automatic pick to this team. A three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Watt collected 96 sacks in the 112 games he played in the decade. Injuries cut deeply into three of his seasons, limiting him to three games in 2016, five in 2017 and eight in 2019, or he’d have easily been a member of the rare 100-sacks-in-a-decade fraternity. He led the NFL in sacks twice, including 20 ½ in his second season in 2011. When healthy, he’s the best in the game: Five Pro Bowls, five first-team all-pro selections. Remind me again how Watt lasted to the 11th pick of the 2011 draft....
WE—Khalil Mack. Mack has lined up this decade as both a 4-3 end and 3-4 outside linebacker. But his job description has always been edge rusher. He was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2016 when he lined up for the Raiders at weakside end, collecting 11 sacks, forcing five fumbles, recovering three and also returning an interception for a touchdown. Mack has registered double-digit sacks in four of his six seasons, including a career-best 15 as an end for the Raiders in 2015 and 12 ½ as an outside backer for the Bears in 2018. Mack has gone to the Pro Bowl each of the last five seasons and is a three-time first-team all-pro. He forced 20 career fumbles and recovered seven of them.
DT—Aaron Donald. Like Watt, Donald slid in the first round of his draft, finally going to the Rams on the 13th overall pick in 2014. And, like Watt, he had an instant and lasting impact. Donald collected nine sacks to earn NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors and has hit double-digits in four of his five seasons since then, including 20 ½ in 2018 to lead the league. He was voted the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in both 2017 and 2018 and has gone to the Pro Bowl in all six of his seasons. Donald was a first-team all-pro choice in five of them and had 72 sacks in the decade.
DT—Geno Atkins. The Bengals had a quiet decade, failing to win a playoff game in six tries. But Atkins' play was anything but quiet. He was voted to eight Pro Bowls and was twice a first-team all-pro selection. He hit double figures in sacks three times, collecting 12 ½ in 2012, 11 in 2015 and 10 in 2018. Atkins sacked 76 quarterbacks in the decade. Not bad for a fourth-round draft pick.
SLB—Chandler Jones. Jones was a Pro Bowl weakside end in New England’s 4-3 scheme before the Patriots traded him to the Cardinals in 2016. Arizona transitioned him to strongside linebacker in its 3-4 scheme and Jones went from good to great as a pass rusher. Counting his final season in New England, Jones has now strung together five consecutive seasons of double-digit sacks, including 17 in 2017 to lead the league. He posted a career-best 19 sacks in 2019 for his second first-team all-pro honor. Jones went to three Pro Bowls and had 96 sacks in the decade.
MLB—Luke Kuechly. A tackling machine, Kuechly collected 100-plus tackles in all eight of his NFL seasons before retiring after the 2019 season. He led the league with 164 tackles as a rookie in 2012 and again with 153 in 2014. Kuechly was the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2012 and the Defensive Player of the Year in 2013. He went to the Pro Bowl in each of his final seven seasons with the Carolina Panthers and was first-team all-pro in five of them.
WLB—Von Miller. The second overall pick of the 2011 NFL draft, Miller collected 11 ½ sacks to earn NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. In six of the next eight seasons, Miller stayed healthy for all 16 games and hit double-figures in sacks all six of those seasons, including a career-best 18 ½ in 2012. His 106 sacks in the 2010 decade paved a path for eight Pro Bowl berths and three first-team all-pro selections. Miller also was the Super Bowl MVP in Denver’s victory over Carolina in 2016 when he sacked QB Cam Newton 2 ½ times and forced two fumbles.
CB—Patrick Peterson. Like Geno Atkins, Peterson spent most of the decade playing on a team that struggled to win in Arizona. But there was a shine to his game that his team could not often match. The fifth overall pick of the 2011 draft, Peterson was voted to the Pro Bowl in each of his first eight seasons. A six-game suspension at the start of the 2019 season cost him a chance to go to a ninth consecutive Pro Bowl. He intercepted 25 passes in the decade and was voted first-team all-pro three times. Peterson intercepted a career-best seven passes in 2012, returned four punts for touchdowns in 2011 and caught three TD passes in 2013 when he double-dipped on offense.
CB—Richard Sherman. Even more puzzling than the first-round draft slides of Watt and Donald, how did Richard Sherman last into the fifth round of the 2011 draft? Seattle claimed him there and he became a key element in the Legion of Boom defense that helped the Seahawks win two NFC titles and a Super Bowl. He went to his third Super Bowl last weekend with the 49ers. Sherman intercepted eight passes in each of his second and third seasons and collected 35 thefts in the decade. He was voted to five Pro Bowls and was a three-time first-team all-pro selection.
SS—Eric Berry. A first-round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2010, Berry had difficulty staying healthy and on the field in the decade. He missed 15 games in 2011 with a torn ACL, then missed 10 games in 2014 when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The Chiefs made him the highest-paid safety in the NFL with a $78 million contract in 2017 but he suffered a torn Achilles in the season opener, then missed the first 13 games of the 2018 season with bone spurs. But when he managed to stay healthy, Berry was a beast. He enjoyed five healthy seasons in the decade and was voted to the Pro Bowl in all of them. Berry was a three-time first-team all-pro. He intercepted 14 passes and returned five of them for touchdowns. He was the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year in 2015 when he returned from lymphoma.
FS—Earl Thomas. Sherman isn’t the only Legion of Boom alumnus on this all-decade team. Thomas was the best free safety of the 2010s, going to seven Pro Bowls and earning three first-team all-pro honors. The first six Pro Bowls came with Seattle, the last one with the Baltimore Ravens in 2019. Three times Thomas intercepted five passes in a season and he finished the decade with 30 picks. He returned two of the interceptions for touchdown and scored a third time on a fumble return. He collected a career-best 105 tackles in 2013 in Seattle’s only NFL championship season.
K—Justin Tucker. Undrafted out of the University of Texas in 2012, Tucker has strung together eight consecutive seasons of 100-plus points, including a career-high 141 in each of the last four seasons. He is the most accurate field-goal kicker of all-time, converting 90.8 percent of his career attempts. He has been voted to three Pro Bowls and has been a four-time first-team all-pro. He also has converted 39 of his 55 career attempts of 50 yards or more, including all 10 of his tries in 2016. Tucker has 15 career game-winning field goals, including a 61-yarder to beat Detroit in 2013.
P—Johnny Hekker. Like Tucker, Hekker was undrafted out of college. And, like Tucker, there are 31 other teams that wish they spent a seventh-round pick on him in 2012. Special-teams coaches will tell you the only stat that matters in punting is net yards. Hekker set an NFL record with a 46.0-yard net average in 2016. He also has three of the top six net averages in NFL history. He’s been to four Pro Bowls and is a four-time first-team all-pro. A former high-school quarterback, Hekker also has completed 13 passes on fake punts for 184 yards and a touchdown.
KR—Cordarrelle Patterson. Hall of Famer Gale Sayers is regarded as the greatest kick returner of all-time with his 30.6-yard career average…but Patterson isn’t far behind. In his seven seasons, he has returned 204 kickoffs for a 29.9-yard average with seven touchdowns, including an NFL-record 109-yarder in a 2013 game against the Green Bay Packers. He has averaged better than 30 yards per return in three seasons and led the league each time – 32.4 in his rookie season in 2013, 31.8 in 2015 and 31.7 in 2016.
PR—Devin Hester. Hester joined Brady and Gronkowski on the NFL’s 100th anniversary team. Hester and Brady also are the only repeaters from the 2000s all-decade team. Brady was first-team, Hester second. Hester led the NFL with a 17.1-yard punt return average in 2010 and again with a 16.2 average in 2011. He returned seven punts for touchdowns in the 2010 decade, giving him 14 for his career. Hester went to two Pro Bowls and was a first-team all-pro once in the decade. He also scored one touchdown on a kickoff return, eight more receiving and once rushing. His 11.7-yard career punt return average ranks ninth all-time.
ST—Matthew Slater. Since Slater’s arrival as a special-teams ace in 2008, the Patriots have finished first in the NFL in special teams twice, in the Top 5 on four other occasions and the Top 10 three more times. He’s been an eight-time Pro Bowler and a three-time Super Bowl champion. An eight-time team captain, Slater holds the franchise records with 155 career special-teams tackles in the regular season and 21 in the post-season.