I didn’t exactly do a head count, but my eyes tell me that the AFC North did pretty well for itself, overall, as it concerns the 2010s NFL All-Decade team. The Pittsburgh Steelers placed two players on the list themselves, as did two players who spent the bulk of their careers with the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns, while the Cincinnati Bengals also had a core representative.
As we have already written, a pair of 2010 NFL Draft classmates from Pittsburgh made the list, with first-round center Maurkice Pouncey and sixth-round wide receiver Antonio Brown both being named to the all-decade team.
Brown was the only skill position player in the division to make it, but the offensive line was well-represented. In addition to Pouncey, long-time great left tackle Joe Thomas from the Browns made the list, as should be no surprise, as one of the handful of unanimous choices. Alex Mack has been in Atlanta for some time now, but has his beginnings in Cleveland. Marshal Yanda, recently retired, represents Baltimore as another unanimous choice.
In addition to Yanda, the Ravens also had the unanimous choice of kicker in Justin Tucker, which really should have gone without saying. It can hardly be disputed at this point that Tucker has not only been the greatest kicker of the past decade, but is the greatest kicker in NFL history.
The defensive side of the ball was not kind to the AFC North, with only Geno Atkins being featured among the four defensive tackles, the lone Bengal to make the list. The Steelers’ Cameron Heyward lost out to, among others, Cameron Jordan among defensive ends.
New Raven Calais Campbell also made the list, though he has yet to ever play for the Ravens. Safety Eric Weddle played a couple of seasons in Baltimore until the team released him following the 2018 season, and Earl Thomas, who completed his first season with the team, also made the team, but both spent by far the predominant portion of their careers elsewhere.
I believe that both Heyward and David DeCastro have strong cases to make for themselves as being among the best players of the past decade who did not make the list. The defensive line group was incredibly deep, however, also including J.J. Watt and Julius Peppers, so Heyward’s path was rough.
As for DeCastro, he lost out to Logan Mankins, Jahri Evans, Yanda, and Zack Martin. Despite only playing through 2015, Mankins made as many Pro Bowls as DeCastro in the 2010s, as well as more All-Pro lists (though two-to-one on first-team in DeCastro’s favor).
Overall, it’s hard to quibble about the list, in my opinion, which is chock full of some of the very best of the best to ever play the game, and a large number of these players will be in the Hall of Fame when all is said and done, so congratulations to those who were honored.