We’ve reached the point of the summer where everyone is out for clicks. All sites are starving for clicks and views on their articles and rankings are always a sure-fire way to do so.
With that in mind, I’m sure, the team over at PFF released two different All-Decade teams over the past week or so, capping it off with the ‘top 101 players of the 2010-19 decade.’ You could bet you’d see some Stanford Cardinal alum, but it was very refreshing to see where some of them ranked.
First off, let’s discuss how they got there.
Lead NFL Analyst and longest tenured PFFer Sam Monson wrote the list and came to this as the lengthy conclusion as to how the players were listed.
Like all other PFF Top 101s, this list isn’t an evaluation of talent, but rather of production, efficiency and performance over a specific time period — in this case, the entire decade. Because the time period is far larger this time, we should get far closer to evaluating talent by proxy than in a list that focuses just on a single season, but it’s still a distinction worth thinking about.
This list includes the playoffs, so players with legendary postseason runs will see their stock rise compared to those who have faltered or never made it past the regular season.
Playing time was factored into the decisions, too; somebody who played twice as much within the decade was given some level of preference over players who played only a few seasons in the 2010s.
The list is also created with an “all positions created equal” mentality. The best guard or safety has just as much a chance of topping the list as the best quarterback or sack artist.
Lastly, just like any other All-Decade evaluation, there will be players whose careers get trapped between decades and therefore appear lower on this list than they might if their entire careers had been captured.
There you have it. That differs a bit from the usual PFF ranking system that weighs heavily on quarterbacks and the passing game. And now, to our Cardinal.
Of course, Richard Sherman found his way to the top of the list for Stanford alumni on the top 101 players, but he also found his way as the best cornerback of the past decade.
Sherman was ranked No. 4 overall and No. 1 among all cornerbacks, listed as the second-best defensive player of the past decade.
Richard Sherman timed his entry into the league perfectly for an All-Decade Team, and he has been the best cornerback in the game consistently over that time. Only two corners over the past 10 years have allowed a completion rate under 50% — Sherman (49.6%) and Darrelle Revis (49.8%). Sherman also allowed the lowest yardage per snap in coverage (0.80) in the league and the lowest passer rating when targeted (54.0). He was, to put it simply, the hardest cornerback in football to complete passes on over the past decade. We can quibble as to how easy his job was versus that of players like Revis or others, but there is no denying that he has been completely peerless in the role he has been in.
High praise for the best in the business, and the smartest in the biz. A proud Cardinal, we’re proud of you, Richard.
And then there was Doug Baldwin. He checked in at No. 77 on the list as the former undrafted-turned-star-receiver was listed as the 12th-highest ranked receiver.
Doug Baldwin represented a movement in the NFL away from prototypical No. 1 receivers who played only on the outside and relied on size and athleticism to get their production. He became an incredibly prolific receiver, relying instead on route-running and the versatility to line up both outside and in the slot. In his entire career, he didn’t have a season grade below 70.0 and five of his eight seasons were above 80.0, not including a 79.9 mark in 2018. Baldwin was one of the most reliable receivers in the game, providing Russell Wilson a consistent place to go with the football when in doubt.
As solid of praise as it was for the two Cardinal on the list, that’s where it ended for Stanford alumni. You can be sure that had Andrew Luck perhaps continued his NFL career, he would have made the list.
But it begs the question — did they get it right? Is there a Stanford alum you thought would be on there?
As much as I’d like to say Christian McCaffrey should have been, I understand he hasn’t quite done it as long as some of the running backs lists. David DeCastro should have been on there, probably. But that’s a tough call.
What are your thoughts?