On Monday, the Pro Football Hall of Fame released the All-Decade team for the last ten years with Dallas Cowboys Offensive Linemen Tyron Smith and Zack Martin, given the honors of being selected to this exclusive group of players. There’s certainly an argument to be made for Jason Witten or Travis Frederick to be on the team as well, but it would be hard to take a player like Maurice Pouncey or Alex Mack off at center or Rob Gronkowski or Travis Kelce off at tight end.
All-Decade teams are significant to a player’s chances of being selected to the Hall of Fame. Like Pro Bowls and All-Pro selections, these things matter in the mind of the voters, though they continue to snub former Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Drew Pearson, the lone member of the 1970s All-Decade Team not to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
It matters. For Tyron Smith and Zack Martin, their selection to the All-Decade team of the 2010s will go a long way toward their case for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
It’s going to be an uphill climb for Ezekiel Elliott to earn his way onto an All-Decade team. Not necessarily because he isn’t talented enough, but because of when he came into the league.
Drafted in 2016, Elliott has done a lot of good things as the starting running back for the Dallas Cowboys. Two rushing titles, three 1,000 yard seasons, and a fourth season that was nearly 1,000 yards despite playing just 10 games. Unfortunately, the Pro Football Hall of Fame won’t consider any of those first four seasons when voting on the All-Decade Team in 2030.
Elliott will have to continue to put up the numbers he has in his first four seasons for at least the next four to five years to put himself into consideration for the All-Decade team. Like a couple of players selected to the All-Decade team, Elliott has one crucial thing going for him: durability.
Often, the player that Ezekiel Elliott gets compared to the most when discussing his value as a running back is Adrian Peterson, formerly of the Minnesota Vikings and now of the Washington Redskins. Though Peterson has shown more ability as a breakaway runner in his career, it’s his longevity that has been as impressive as his ability. People point to Elliott’s toughness and durability as the ability that can and will give him longevity in the National Football League.
The debate surrounding Elliott’s value often hinges on how long people believe he’ll be a capable runner. Running backs usually start to wear down around age 27. The workload and toil that the running back’s body takes are often too much to bear. Adrian Peterson and fellow All-Decade team member Frank Gore have been able to stave off Father Time and continue to help teams even at their advanced playing age.
If Ezekiel Elliott can continue to be one of the best running backs in football for the next four or five years, it should put him in a position to be a candidate for the All-Decade Team in 2030. If he’s able to sustain his career into the latter half of the decade, it will solidify his place among those immortalized on the All-Decade Team.
I know what you’re thinking, “wait, didn’t Zack Martin just get selected to the All-Decade Team for the 2010s?” Yes. He did. However, there’s a chance with some longevity Zack Martin could find himself on the All-Decade Team for the 2020s.
Think about it for a second.
Zack Martin has played just six seasons. He’s made the Pro Bowl every season of his career and been selected to the All-Pro’s first-team four times. Offensive linemen can play a long time in the NFL. If he’s able to have a similar impact for the Dallas Cowboys and continue to rack up Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections at the same rate for the next six or more seasons, there’s no reason to think he couldn’t be a two-time All-Decade selection.
Tom Brady pulled off the feat as a two-time selection after being named to both the 2000s and the 2010s All-Decade Teams. Though it’s unlikely that Zack Martin will play into his 40s like Brady, all he’ll have to do is be around at his same elite level for the next five to six years to warrant consideration. And unless recency bias takes hold of the voters in 2030, there’s no reason to think they won’t consider Martin’s name. He’s on pace to go down as one of the best guards of all-time.
A lot of things would have to go right for the Dallas Cowboys for Dak Prescott to find his way onto the 2020s All-Decade Team. Namely, they would have to win a Super Bowl or two for him to garner consideration.
Here’s hoping when we reconvene in 2030, the Dallas Cowboys will have won at least one Super Bowl in that time.
The other thing Dak Prescott would have to do is what he’s already shown capable of in the first four seasons of his career; continue to develop. He’s come a long way since his rookie season, and his 2019 showed that he’s every bit the passer as the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. His 2019 season, his first with Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore, was a glimpse into the potential that Dak Prescott carries into the 2020s.
Though the offense was at times too passive, forcing Prescott and the offense to play catch up, we got to witness the next step in the evolution of Dak Prescott as a passer.
Under the tutelage of Mike McCarthy and another season with Kellen Moore, there’s no reason to doubt that Dak Prescott will take another step forward in 2020, kick-starting what hopefully will lead to a decade to remember over the next ten years.
Whether it’s fair or not, Dak Prescott’s career and his All-Decade Team prospects hinge upon leading the Dallas Cowboys deep into the playoffs and winning a Super Bowl. That’s the reality of the NFL as we know it. If he and the Cowboys can accomplish that, Prescott’s ability his heading in a direction to be considered one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
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There’s so much that could change in the next five years, let alone the next 10. Imagining what an All-Decade Team looks like in 2030 is pretty tricky to factor in. With the incredible talent at running back, guard, and quarterback that the NFL has to offer, it’s an uphill battle for each of these players to receive this prestigious award.
Though the competition will be stiff, Ezekiel Elliott, Zack Martin, and Dak Prescott seem to be on a trajectory that could have them in the conversation a decade from now. If you’re a fan of the Dallas Cowboys, that’s pretty fun to think about the level of talent on this team.