Hi, everyone, sorry it’s been a while but university has been super busy this term! It’s almost the end of the decade, so I’ve decided to create my best team of the 2010s. Feel free to agree or disagree with my selections you can find me @NFLRiley to discuss. Some of the players made it for their longevity, some here for pure talent and others because I’m a 49ers fan!
Quarterback – Tom Brady
Tom Brady took this spot due to his hardware whilst Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers were both strong contenders for this spot. From 2010 to the present day, Brady has thrown for 43,235 yards and 313 touchdowns. While reaching 5 Super Bowls and winning 3 of them. Tom Brady established himself as the greatest of all time in the NFL during the 2010s.
Running Backs – Adrian Peterson, Ezekiel Elliot and LeSean McCoy
Adrian Peterson has been the most dominant runner of the decade, as well as the only running back to win NFL MVP. After a ridiculous 2012 season where he ran for over 2,000 yards after tearing his ACL the year before. Simply unstoppable in his prime.
Despite having only been in the league since 2016, I couldn’t leave someone as dominant as him off this list. Elliot has rushed for over 5,000 yards and has 39 touchdowns so far in his career. Since he stepped onto the field he’s been the best running back in the league despite the Dallas’ lack of success this decade.
McCoy has thrived in this decade rushing for 10,434 yards and 69 touchdowns on the ground. He was at his best in Philadelphia leading the league with over 1,600 yards and making multiple viral videos of his jukes and spins. LeSean McCoy has reached 22nd all-time in rushing yards now playing in Buffalo.
Tight End – Rob Gronkowski
This was never in doubt, Gronk was an absolute beast in the 2010s. He played with a speed and power that changed defences and kept coaches up at night. He became a 3 time Super Bowl champion before retiring last season and has already made it into the NFL 100th anniversary team.
Wide Receivers – Larry Fitzgerald and Julio Jones
This decade saw a transition for Fitzgerald who moved from the outside into the slot with the arrival of Bruce Arians. Boy did it pay off! Fitz in the 2010s to present day has made 847 receptions for 9,923 yards and 60 touchdowns. Larry Fitzgerald was recently inducted into the NFL 100th anniversary team.
This was a tough decision between Julio and AB, but I chose the Falcons receiver because of his play this season unlike AB’s… Jones has been one of the most dominant forces in the NFL this decade. Since entering the league in 2011, he has put up 11,881 yards on 780 catches with 57 touchdowns. He holds an NFL record averaging 95.8 yards per game.
Tackles – Tyron Smith and Joe Staley
One of the most consistent players on this list, Tyron Smith has been the premier tackle in the NFL for the whole of the decade. Protecting both Tony Romo and Dak Prescott with relative ease due to the unmatched combination of size and strength. His partnership with teammate Zac Martin helped form one fo the best position groups of the decade in the Cowboys offensive line.
There could have been other selections here, but I have to say my 49ers bias came out. Staley has been an awesome left tackle making 6 Pro Bowls and 3 All-Pro teams. Whilst helping the 49ers to playoff success early in the decade with the rushing attack of Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore, and now helping the 49ers back into the playoffs at the end of the decade. He’s been a loyal servant playing very well during some tough times in San Fran.
Guards – Zac Martin and Marshall Yanda
Speaking of Zack Martin he’s been one of the best players in the league since he entered in 2014. Zack Martin became the first rookie offensive lineman to be named All-Pro since Dick Huffman in 1947. He’s kept that level of play up making 6 Pro Bowls and 5 All-Pro teams whilst helping Zeke Elliot to his position on this list.
Yanda has been one of the best linemen in football for more than a decade now. In the 2010s Yanda has made the Pro Bowl every year that’s not 2010 or 2017, setting a record for 6 straight selections between 2011-2016. Having also won a Super Bowl there seems to be nothing standing in the way of him reaching Canton when he retires in the 2020s.
Centre – Jason Kelce
Kelce is a freak of nature on the football field, he possesses a level of football IQ and athleticism not since in many centres ever. This has been quite a surprise to everyone since he was a 6th round pick in 2011, he’s since become a Super Bowl champion, a 3 time Pro Bowler and a two-time All-Pro selection.
Defensive Ends – JJ Watt and Khalil Mack
This man has been a one-man wrecking crew for the whole decade, winning NFL Defensive Player of the Year 3 times in the 2010s. At the height of his powers, he seemed to win off the snap every time, forcing teams to play away from his side of the field. Watt has made the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams 5 times and had it not been for injuries he would have made more.
Kahlil Mack has been outstanding, coming out of the same 2014 draft that’s produced so many players on this list. He’s been so good for both the Raiders and now the Bears. His best seasons coming in 2015 when he became the first player to be selected All-Pro at two different positions and in 2016 when he won NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He’s still causing havoc for the Bears.
Defensive Tackles – Geno Atkins and Aaron Donald
It was between him and Ndamukong Suh for this spot, so I’ve chosen the Cinnciantti star for my team. Taken in the same draft as Suh, Atkins has been severely underrated during this decade. He’s made 8 Pro Bowls and 3 All-Pro teams as well as forming a deadly duo with Carlos Dunlap for the Bengals.
Alongside Watt, Aaron Donald has been the best defensive lineman this decade. Despite Donald’s short stature, he was a first-round pick in 2014. However, his bear-like strength and quick hands have led him to terrorise offensive lines. Donald has won back to back NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards in 2017 and 2018 and made the Pro Bowl 6 times and All-Pro 4 times.
Linebackers – Von Miller, Bobby Wagner and Luke Kuechly
Miller has been outstanding in the 2010s producing one of the performances for the ages when he won Super Bowl MVP in 2015. He had 6 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 quarterback hurries. Miller has been impeccable for Denver getting 105 sacks since 2011. Von Miller has changed many a gameplan of different offensive co-ordinators with his sprinter-level speed coming off the edge.
Bobby Wagner has been an absolute tackling machine for the Seahawks. He’s made over 1,000 tackles and been part of one of the best defences of all time with the 2013 Seahawks. He’s been to the Pro Bowl six times and made an All-Pro five times. Wagner will be going to Canton after his career is over and it’s down to his time terrorising in the Pacific North West.
Kuechly has been the model of consistency at the linebacker this decade. He’s been to the Pro Bowl 7 times, made an All-Pro 6 times, won NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year during his 7 years in Carolina. Always singled out by both opposing players and coaches as the best player on the field, Kuechly has been the best linebacker during the 2010s and will probably be the best one in the 2020s.
Cornerbacks – Patrick Peterson and Richard Sherman
Patrick Peterson has been the most consistent cornerback since 2011 when he was drafted in the first round. Peterson as a premier technician grabbed 24 interceptions and made the Pro Bowl in each of his first 8 seasons in the NFL. This would be a lot more but quarterbacks have realised not to throw his way at all. Peterson hasn’t played much this season but has been impeccable for the other nine seasons in the decade.
One of the loudest players in NFL history known for his trash talking. Sherman has backed it up with superb play for the Legion of Boom and now the 49ers. As the 154th pick in the 2011 NFL draft, no other player has recorded more interceptions or passes defended. He won Super Bowl XLVIII with the Seahawks who between 2012-2015 led the league in scoring defence. He’s been a stud at cornerback for both Seattle and San Fransisco.
Safeties – Earl Thomas and Eric Weddle
As a first-round pick of the Seahawks, Thomas has lived up to the billing recording 7 Pro Bowl selections and 5 All-Pro selections. Thomas’ ball skills are impeccable recording 30 interceptions but like Peterson, quarterbacks stopped throwing in his direction. He’s playing well for the Ravens this season.
Eric Weddle is a very underrated player, I think because he’s never played on a Super Bowl winner rather some up and down Chargers, Ravens and now Rams’ teams. Despite this, he’s made the Pro Bowl 6 times and been an All-Pro selection 5 times. He’s got an outstanding football brain that’s led to be one of the interceptions leaders of the decade.
Kicker – Justin Tucker
Other kickers have had better individual seasons than Tucker but no one has been more consistent or more clutch him. As an undrafted free agent, Tucker might be the best bargain on this list. He’s been to the Pro Bowl 3 times and been an All-Pro 4 times. No other kicker in NFL history has been as accurate as Tucker with a minimum 100 attempts.
Punter – Johnny Hekker
Johnny Hekker like Tucker went undrafted in 2012 and has also created a Hall of Fame resume in the 2010s. With 4 Pro Bowl and 4 All-Pro selections, Hekker has revolutionised the position with an average punt of 47 yards. Hekker will be in the Hall of Fame when his career finishes in the 2020s.
Gunner – Matthew Slater
A 3 time Super Bowl champion, an 8 time Pro Bowler and a 5 time Pro Bowler. Matthew Slater has been the best special teams player this decade. He will follow his father into the Hall of Fame when his career is over. He might be the only special team gunner that people will know which shows his greatness.
Returner – Devin Hester
As the best returner in NFL history, Devin Hester had to make my team. In the 2010s he established this claim with 7,095 overall return yards and 8 touchdowns. Devin Hester has been inducted to the NFL’s 100th-anniversary team.
Head Coach – Bill Belichek
Bill Belicheck created his second dynasty of this millennium in the 2010s. Belichick has coached the Patriots to 5 Super Bowls winning 3 of them and becoming the winningest head coach in NFL history. Belicheck has made the AFC championship in every season but 2010 one. There is no one else like Bill Belicheck.
Image from www.washingtonpost.com
Alex Riley is a 49ers fan who since 2010 has followed the NFL. He’s currently at the University of Leicester. You can find him on Twitter at @NFLRiley and his blog at www.rileynfl.wordpress.com