It's never too early to make an all-decade team, is it? We've got (hopefully) ten years of football to look forward to. Who will be the stars?
Who will be this decade's Peyton Manning? LaDainian Tomlinson? Marvin Harrison? Tony Gonzales? Walter Jones? Steve Hutchinson? Olin Kruetz?
The players I pick have to be young, since the team of the decade is made up of players who put up the best numbers over the ENTIRE ten years. So in some cases, I may pick players who are in college, if I don't think there are good enough young players currently in the game. Or at a position like running back, where players have short careers, my choice may not be an established player. But that's what makes this so fun. It's all speculation and potential.
I will make this team in the format of the AP All-Pro First Team:
Feel free to comment with thoughts or changes you'd make.
Rodgers is on the upper limit of age, but 36 is by no means unheard of for a QB, and he spent his first three years on the bench. Since then, he's passed for 8,472 yards and 58 TDs against only 20 INT in two years, including the best TD/INT ratio in the NFL this past season.
Rodgers plays in a prolific offense in Green Bay, featuring young rising stars in Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley. With a strong team behind him and his best years ahead, Rodgers is in a prime position to be the QB of the decade.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Jake Locker, University of Washington
Johnson gave us all a thrill towards the end of this season with his race to 2,000 yards and the single-season rushing record. He achieved the first of those, but fell short of the latter. Nonetheless, Johnson has an explosiveness unmatched by any back in the league today.
While it's unrealisitic to expect him to keep up these numbers, Johnson runs behind the best OT duo in the league in Michael Roos and David Stewart, who are also young and will open holes for him for many years.
Here's my first reach of the article. Spiller's not yet in the NFL. how can he be in the Team of the Decade? Well it came down to him or Adrian Peterson. Peterson would be the obvious choice, but bear with me.
Peterson will be 25 when the season starts. so he'll be 34 at the conclusion of the 2019 season. he's been a starter since he was a rookie. He has three seasons and 915 rushing attempts under his belt, and he's prone to injury givin his upright running style. Most running backs hit a wall at age 30, which is soon for Peterson. The way I see it, he has 5 good seasons left in him. Six max.
Spiller will be drafted this year, likely in the Top 15. He will have just turned 23 when the season starts. Spiller has incredible playmaking ability and versatility, being a threat in the passing and return game as well as rushing. He was the only NCAA player to score in every game this season. Spiller will likely have eight or nine good years in his career, all of them in this decade. Peterson will be the better player, but just played at the wrong time.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars
Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts
Shonn Greene, New York Jets
Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens
Steve Slaton, Houston Texans
Boy, drafting a wide reciever in the first round of every draft actually paid off once. Calvin Johnson's a freak of nature if I've ever seen one. He's got size (6'5, 236), speed (ran a 4.35 at the combine) and amazing jumping ability and hand-eye coordination.
This year the Lions finally drafted a guy who can get him the ball in Matthew Stafford, and that's a combination Detriot fans will be able to find pride in. He has had a couple injuries that have held him out of games, but nothing serious.
He'll be 34 when the decade ends, which, while it is rare for a WR to be playing at a high level at that age, is not unheard of, especially for someone with his athletic ability. Nonetheless, his prime will be during this decade, and with ability like his, he will surely put up some astonishing numbers.
I think I see a trend here: great wide recievers are freaks of nature. Fitzgerald, although less so than Johnson, has an incredible combination of size and speed. He's also the best at catching the ball at the top of his jump, and that's why he had the most red-zone targets in the NFL last season with 31.
This was actually an incredibly hard decision, as my top two choices, Fitzgerald and Brandon Marshall, have age concerns. Fitzgerald also has some quarterback questions that need to be answered, and Marshall has character issues.
I considered Jeremy Maclin, but he's the second fiddle to DeSean Jackson. Jackson wasn't the choice because he's primarily a deep threat. There were no real great choices with this position, and Fitzgerald is
probably the safest choice.
Brandon Marshall, Denver Broncos
Jeremy Maclin, Philidelphia Eagles
Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State University
Santonio Holmes, Pittsburgh Steelers
Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers
The second year pro out of Texas really came on in the second half of last season, catching 34 receptions for 496 yards and 4 TDs in the last six games of the season, including the playoff loss in which he had 6 receptions for 159 yards. On the season as a whole, he had 55 receptions for 676 yards and 5 TDs.
He's a mismatch for defenses, and at 6'5, 247, has a similar build to the last All-Decade Tight End, 6'5 243 Tony Gonzalez. The Packers love exploiting weaknesses in the defense with him, either against slower linebackers up the middle of the field or against smaller cornerbacks out wide.
Finley has a great quarterback to get him the ball and wide recivers to take the focus off him, so expect some Gonzalez-like numbers from him this decade.
Vernon Davis, San Fransisco 49ers
John Carlson, Seattle Seahawks
Dustin Keller, New York Jets
Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma University
Greg Olsen, Chicago Bears
This was perhaps the easiest pick on the team. Clady came out of college and immediately made an impact. He holds the record for most games to start a career without giving up a sack. His entire rookie year, he gave up half a sack to the Dallas Cowboys' DeMarcus Ware, and committed only three penalties. He was a Second-Team All-Pro (but missed out on the Pro-Bowl, thanks fan-voting).
He went into his second season rated the best OT in the NFL by Sporting News, and he didn't disappoint. Named a First-Team All-Pro as well as Pro-Bowl starter, Clady has started every game in his two years in the league.
Best news for Broncos Fans? He's only 23.
Thomas was perhaps the most hyped offensive lineman coming out of any of the past few drafts. A mauler at over 6-6, 310, Thomas plays powerfully, and he has been recognized for it. A Pro-Bowler all three seasons he's been in the league, he earned an All-Pro selection this past year playing for the underwhelming Browns.
He was the only other player to recieve 2007 Rookie of the Year votes other than award winner Adrian Peterson. Offensive Tackles can play well into their mid-30s if not derailed by injury, and Thomas has the durability to do so.
I was almost tempted to pick Jared Gaither because of his monstrous size (6'9, 340) and the fact that the Ravens drafted him to be Jonathan Ogden's heir, but I had to go with Thomas based on past performance.
Jared Gaither, Baltimore Ravens
Michael Oher, Baltimore Ravens
Jake Long, Miami Dolphins
Michael Roos, Tennessee Titans
D'Brickashaw Ferguson, New York Jets.
The guard positions were perhaps the toughest two choices I had to make. Most of the elite guards in the game are too old. Setting aside Steve Hutchinson and Alan Faneca, perhaps the two best guards in the history of the NFL, some of the game's elite include Jahri Evans, David Diehl, and Leonard Davis, who are 26, 29, and 31, respectively.
Grubbs was the first offensive lineman taken in the first round by the Baltimore Ravens since Jonathan Ogden. He was named to the All-Rookie team in 2007 after playing all 16 games, starting 12. He started every game of the next two seasons, and was named Pro-Bowl first alternate, behind Faneca, Logan Mankins, and Kris Dielman (who are also too old at 27 and 29, respectively)
My homerism might be showing here, but hear me out. As I explained on the last slide, all of the top guards in the league are too old. Sitton was the beswt o-lineman on the Packers this year, and granted thats not saying much, he has earned the label of "Future-Pro-Bowler."
Granted that doesn't get you much in this league, but this is a list based on speculation and potential, and Sitton's got it. On the most penalized line in the league, Sitton committed four penalities all year starting all 16 games. He allowed 4 sacks for 24 yards lost, and in a division with the Williams's in Mineanapolis and Tommie Harris in Chicago, that's not bad.
Those aren't amazing numbes, but he's only 23, and I had to put someone here.
Mike Iupati, Idaho University
Jahri Evans, New Orleans Saints
Logan Mankins, New England Patriots
This pick came down to NIck Mangold or Ryan Kalil. I went with Kalil for one reason: he's 23, Mangold's 26. Mangold may have shown more during his time in the league, but I'd rather take a player from when he
s 24-33 than 27-36. Kalil paves the way for the dynamic duo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, and I think he has the better decade than Mangold.
Nick Mangold, New York Jets