Patriots All-Decade Team Predictions

Later today, the Patriots are expected to release their picks for their All-Decade team at any time today. In anticipation of that, I’m logging my predictions down, and launching them into the ‘blogosphere’ like an middle school time capsule that you forgot about.

Regarding that time capsule – let me tell you, I bet your elementary school teacher did not forget about it. He or she dug that shit back up a week after and sifted through each student’s submissions looking for money or valuables. This is a totally baseless theory of mine, but nonetheless a theory I have on time capsules buried on public school grounds. Back to the task at hand. Let’s start with the easiest section of the Patriots All-Decade Team – the offense.

EDIT: The Patriots have spoken – and while editing this post, have announced their All-Decade Team, seen below.


QB: Tom Brady

The GOAT. We miss him. Not much more we can say here. We all know the success of his tenure in Foxboro, that speaks for itself. But, just to fathom how much of the decade he’s been on the field for the Pats, I took a look. I dove in for a quick data scrub to figure out his overall snap count % at QB for the decade. Out of 11,356 total regular season offensive snaps from 2010 through 2019, Brady was on field for 10823 snaps. That amounts to a whopping 95.31% of the total offensive snaps. NUTS.

OT: Nate Solder

Don’t think there’s much debate on this pick. Prior to leaving for a major payday by the Giants, Solder was an elite offensive tackle in New England for 7 seasons. Solder was drafted in the 2011 1st-round, with Belichick clearly eyeing a future at the premier spot, protecting Brady’s blind side. Solder took the reigns at left-tackle beautifully from New England legend Matt Light in 2012, and never looked back.

OT: Marcus Cannon

This might be my boldest choice, and while Vollmer is likely the selection here for most – I’m leaning Cannon and his longer tenure. Cannon’s been a project, with moments of causing epic frustration among fans, but has churned out a great career as a Patriot, as he enters his 10th season.

OG: Logan Mankins

The easiest pick among the whole offensive line. Mankins was one of 5 Patriots on the NFL’s All-Decade team.

OG: Joe Thuney

Not sure if I’m cheating and need to pick a right guard to accompany Mankins’ left-guard, but I don’t care! Thuney’s been a mainstay to the offensive line since the Pats drafted him back in 2016.

C: David Andrews

I’m so excited that Andrews is BACK for 2020, after missing all of 2019 due to serious blood clot-related health concerns. Andrews has been an integral core of the OL since New England drafted him back in 2015, and usurping Bryan Stork as the starting center. Ryan Wendell has the only other real claim here, but simply put, Andrews has been better, even during a shorter stint than Wendell had in New England.

TE: Rob Gronkowski

Best TE of all-time. Sorry Tony Gonzalez, it’s true.

WR: Wes Welker

I may need to write more about Welker and how underrated he’s become since he last wore a Patriots uni. Welker’s stats in New England are just BONKERS when you look at them. Yes, I understand he played with ‘peak Brady’ and had an overlap with some guy named Randy Moss. Regardless, there’s a reason his dominant receiving stats from the early 2010s still hold up against a today’s pass-happy era of NFL offenses. Welker is one of my favorite Patriots ever, so I’m admittedly biased to pick him here, but I will anyway.

WR: Julian Edelman

Jules had to be the choice here. No messing around. His SB catch and playoff performances remove any regular season related hesitation to include him here. Amendola is the honorable mention, but is a full tier below these other guys.

RB: LeGarrette Blount

Interesting spot. Could have gone with the next pick, James White, or even maybe Stevan Ridley. Either way, I went with Blount as a more traditional RB in this spot, over a jack-of-all-trades weapon like White who I slotted elsewhere. Blount’s 4 years as a Patriot just felt different from Ridley though. The man ran the football with power, violence, and ATTITUDE – and that’s why I had to slot him in here.

FLEX: James White

James White is a lock to be on this list. Whether you prefer him at RB, or FLEX is up to you. FLEX just feels right to me given his skillset, even though I’d rank him higher than Blount. Not sure if that totally makes sense, but maybe I’ve just got a distorted fantasy football warped perception of what FLEX means. Honorable mention to Danny Amendola, who might deserve this spot over Blount if I were to slide White to RB.

FB: James Develin

The recently retired Develin is a future Patriots Hall of Famer, and New England legend. Fun fact – I saw Develin play on MULTIPLE occasions in college, while he played for Brown. Was I independently scouting for Heath Evans’ replacement at the ripe age of 10? Maybe. Or was I just in attendance as part of their annual Brown ‘Family Weekend’? The world may never know.

All in all, Develin will be missed sorely by NE fans, and Jakob Johnson has massive shoes to fill.


DT: Vince Wilfork

Wilfork! Slam-dunk pick here as the primary DT. Just a total game-changer in the middle of the line for the Patriots during his tenure. No need to overthink this one.

DE: Chandler Jones

The Patriots trading away Jones was one of the more painful decisions made in the last decade, with him flourishing in Arizona. Aside from the K2 incident, Jones was an awesome DE from the moment he was drafted by New England. His 4 years of massive production, and fun-loving attitude are enough to earn the nod here.

DE: Trey Flowers

Almost mirroring Chandler Jones in terms of sack-production, and a 4-year stint with New England, Trey Flowers is the pick for the 2nd DE slot. These 2 are leaps and bounds above the other DE options.

OLB: Rob Ninkovich

Nink technically might be slotted in at DE, I suppose, but I went with him here, at outside linebacker. After coming off the scrap heap he made name for himself in New England. Nink, a cult hero among Pats fans, was an impact pass-rusher on 2 Super Bowl teams. His personality and grit make him an unforgettable Patriot.

OLB: Kyle Van Noy

Van Noy, another 2-time Super Bowl champ is my 2nd pick for outside linebacker. A similar career path to Nink, Van Noy was acquired by the Patriots (with a 7th round pick) back in 2016 for a 6th round pick. Since then, Van Noy emerged as a major defensive contributor in his 3.5 seasons in New England. Van Noy will be missed following his payday by Miami via free agency, but I wish him the best. Honorable mention to Jamie Collins.

ILB: Jerod Mayo

These inside linebacker spots were TOO easy. Mayo was the on-field leader for the Patriots defense for years, and now we find him back in a leadership role, on the sideline.

ILB: Dont’a Hightower

How could I not pick Hightower here? The dude has stuck around and parlayed an illustrious college career at Alabama (2-time National Champ), into being the defensive leader of 3 Super Bowl winning teams.

CB: Stephon Gilmore

Gilmore’s impact in just 3 seasons in New England is unparalleled among other Patriots CBs of the decade. There’s a reason he’s the only Defensive Player of the Year in Patriots franchise history. He’s the obvious CB1 for the Patriots All-Decade squad.

CB: Malcolm Butler

We have some options to go with this one here, so let me justify choosing Butler as the 2nd CB here. Butler’s career-defining, Super-Bowl winning play doesn’t even need to be mentioned. We all know what I’m talking about. That alone warrants a claim to this list. Butler’s 4 seasons in New England rightfully assert him as a viable option here, but that play in SB XLIX is what locks him in for me over other great options with brief tenures. Among those other options with brief stints, Revis (2014), Aqib Talib (2012-2013), and Jason McCourty (2018-2019) just weren’t around long enough to make up for Butler’s heroics.

S: Devin McCourty

McCourty, the 3rd-longest tenured Patriot (behind Slater and Edelman), has been a certified stud on the Patriots defense for longer than almost any of us could have expected. McCourty’s tenure perfectly aligns with the decade, playing in nearly every game of the 2010s, in a leadership role for the secondary, making for an easy selection.

S: Patrick Chung

Similar to McCourty, other than his 1 yearlong Philadelphia “sabbatical”, Chung has been the other safety for the vast majority of the 2010s for New England. Honorable mention to ‘the closer’ Duron Harmon for his clutch plays in a shorter amount of time, but Chung’s still the choice for me.


K: Stephen Gostkowski

Gostkowski, another runaway pick for the kicker spot. Honestly no other actual alternatives here, nor should there be! He was the NFL’s All-Decade team kicker with good reason! Some may recall Shayne Graham, who filled in for Gostkowski back in 2010 due to injury. But, the honorable mention goes to another Patriots kicker back in 2010… Wes Welker! Who could forget Welker’s epic 2010 kicking performance against the Browns, with a successful extra point attempt, as well as a booming 45 yard kickoff.


P: Ryan Allen

The Patriots have had 3 punters in the last decade. Zoltan Mesko for 3 seasons (2010-2012), Ryan Allen for 6 (2013-2018), and Jake Bailey for 1 (2019). While Bailey certainly had an impressive rookie campaign, I have to go with Allen for his 6 seasons of solid work. Allen was a great punter for almost his entire tenure in New England, easily besting Mesko’s challenge for the spot here.

Kick Returner: Julian Edelman

I labored over this spot for a while, reviewing the history of Patriots returners. While Welker’s per return stats are right on par, Edelman has so many more attempts, and 4 total TD’s to Welker’s 0.

Others have one-off pieces that could altogether create a compelling case, but alone, are moot points to Edelman’s claim. Cordarrelle Patterson was GREAT at returning kickoffs, but only was in New England for 1 season, and never returned a pick. The much-maligned Cyrus Jones’ returning abilities were the source of his only staying power, and his kickoff return averages back that up. Lastly, Blount’s tenure as a kickoff returner in 2013/2014, however bizarre, rendered some impressive results. Matthew Slater, over a longer time period, has solid, but relatively un-moving stats for returning kickoffs, and no punt returns.

ST: Matthew Slater

Slater is a Patriots legend, and future Patriots Hall of Famer. Another one of the easiest picks to make, though he SHOULD have been on the aforementioned NFL All-Decade team, but they didn’t really have a spot for a do-it-all special teamer like Slater. Honorable mention to Nate Ebner here.

Here are my offensive picks via twitter, with the only revision being Cannon over Vollmer.

Next, let’s see who the Patriots choose. At this point I’m sure the posting of their All-Decade team is imminent.  Comment or reply via twitter to let me know who I’m wrong about choosing here!

-Mike Gilligan (@BigGilli, and @SmallStateTakes Podcast) – https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/small-state-big-takes/id1432138166

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