So, we will take a took at our de facto First-teams and give our thoughts. We reserve the right to edit our surmise as we get more information.
WR–Antonio Brown, Calvin Johnson
Larry Fitzgerald, Julio Jones
No room for criticism here.
No beefs here, either
T–Joe Thomas, Jason Peters, Tyron Smith
We know Thomas was unanimous and Smith had many "blue" seasons but we originally thought Jason Peters probably edged him out. However, after further poking around we think this is just too close to call and we will never know who was second in the voting and who was third. Andrew Whitworth likely got support as did Mitchell Schwartz.
Logan Mankins, Jahri Evans
Yanda was unanimous and Martin had to be close. Evans and Mankins were All-Pros early in the decade. There could be some quibbles with the Second-team but like the tackles these four are solid.
No gripes here, though Jason Kelce probably had support but this is a solid pair. We'd have gone with Mack first.
Some are saying Drew Brees was a snub but in the 2010s Rodgers has a ring, a higher winning percentage, two MVPs and a higher passer rating. He deserves the Second-team over Brees.
RB–Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy
Frank Gore, Marshawn Lynch,
Peterson was unanimous and McCoy was right behind him in stats. The backups are solid, too.
Wish there had been a fullback here to go with Sproles but that is not on the committee that is not the NFL/HOF in the formatting of the team.
DE– J.J. Watt, Cameron Jordan
Calais Campbell, Julius Peppers
Campbell and Watt are outside guys in base and would move inside in nickel, though later in the decade, Watt stayed outside. Both good choices as are the Second-teamers. Cameron Heyward would maybe edge out Peppers id we had to put Chandler Jones as a rushbacker. Robert Quinn had a good decade, though had some injuries. Cameron Wade likely had some Second-team support as well.
DT–Aaron Donald, Geno Atkins
Fletcher Cox, Ndamukong Suh
If one were to pick the top four 4-3 tackles these are it. We'd have preferred to see a shade tackle (nose tackle) like a Snacks Harrison or a Linval Joseph or a Haloti Ngata or a Vince Wilfork but gain that is a formatting issue and not a problem with the voting.
ILB–Luke Kuechly, Bobby Wagner
The ballot we saw prior to the voting had two inside linebackers and two outside linebackers so we can assume this was a formatting issue. Really, there should only be one of these guys one the First-team.
Khalil Mack, Chandler Jones
Miller was unanimous so we know he was First-team. We wish (again, formatting of the team) there was room for a WILL 'backer like Lavonte David or Thomas Davis or even Anthong Barr, players like that.
CB–Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman
Our sense is this was super-close. If there were a fourth we suspect Stephon Gilmore or Aqib Talib would be the other Second-teamer.
S–Earl Thomas, Eric WeddleEric Berry
Kam Chancellor would likely be a fourth if there were a full Second-team, he could easily have been one of the top three.
Again, solid picks
Lechler had the honors but Thomas Morstead had better numbers. Better NYOA, better net, better Inside-the-20 to Touchback ratio, fewer kicks return for scores, you name it.
Tucker was unanimous. They pretty much nailed this one.
PR– Darren Sproles
Hill is dominant, but he only played three years in the decade. Is that enough? There is precedent for it. In the 1970s Earl Campbell played two seasons and made the Second-team. Butkus played four and was hobbled for two of them and made the First-team. Sproles, though, we think, outpolled Hill but it's a curious position. For more on this read on through the end of the post.
However, Devin Hester led the 2010s in return average and had 7 punt returns for touchdowns. He should have been the First-team punt returner. If Hill met the minimum seasons (whatever that may be) then he should still be behind Hester.
The Patterson pick is money. Hester does not belong here. He was 18th in kick return average for the decade (among those with 50 or more returns) and had just one kick return for a score. Not good enough. Jacoby Jones should have been the backup.
No reason to complain. Andy Reid's lat super Bowl win gives him some cred here, but Carroll is also a solid choice with two NFC championships and one SB win.
So, what's the final tally?
Defense—A (no love for NT or WILL cost the "+")
Special Teams—B (dinged for Hester and Morstead)
Now, is it fair to ding the Selection Committee for not picking Hester, especially? Probably not. Why? Because they probably DID pick Hester as the First-team punt returner and DIDN'T pick him as the Second-team kick returner.
Again, based on some research and poking around, it just didn't make sense that the voters, who got nearly everything right got this so wrong. So, while there is no way to prove it short of the NFL releasing the voting totals but all we can say is there is something hinkey about the voting.
We are working to get more information so stay tuned, but dollars to donuts Hester was voted as the top punt returner.
Additionally, the blank ballot we saw in March included a special teams player, which would have likely gone to Matthew Slater. Why was that not included? Could it be the NFL priority was to have a 53-man squad to match the number of players on a roster for the decade? And if so, it's really 52 since Sproles takes two slots. So there was room for Slater. As we said, hinkey.
Alas, we have not looked closely but this may be the best All-Decade team ever. There are not headscratchers like in the 1960s (Larry Morris, Carroll Dale) or 1980s (Chuck Noll, John Anderson) and the like. From the 1920s-1950s there were multiple question marks. The 1970s, 1990s, and 2000s were very solid (going from memory).
So, to the Hall of Fame Selection Committee—Well Done
To the NFL who won't release the First-team for first time in 40 years—Come on, man