We all know certain players are Canton bound the moment they retire. That isn’t the case with these 11 active players. They’re all very accomplished and are some of the league’s best from the past decade, but they’re borderline Hall of Famers. You’ll see what I mean once you start reading.
Now some of these selections may be more controversial than other. Certain people might feel a player should already be considered a future Hall of Famer or that another player shouldn’t even be mentioned on this list. That’s fine, just remember I chose the most controversial cases I could find that had arguments for and against the player being enshrined. There had to be cases for and against a player for him to make this list. Also note that I am projecting a level of future success for some of the younger players on this list that would make their cases compelling arguments. (All stats are correct as of the start of Week 3 of the 2018 regular season)
Eli Manning QB
Manning has been to two Super Bowls, won both, and took home the Super Bowl MVP both times as well. Manning’s play has been characteristically inconsistent since he entered the NFL. He has led the league in interceptions three times and had his worst season in the last decade in 2017. He also had his long streak of consecutive starts snapped thanks to incompetent coaching. With four Pro Bowls, 4,480 pass competitions, 52,185 passing yards, and 340 passing touchdowns he falls inside the top ten all-time in the three major career passing categories. But that’s still no guarantee he’ll make the Hall of Fame.
Cam Newton QB
He won the league’s MVP award in 2015 when he took the Panthers to the Super Bowl. That year was the high water mark of Newton’s career, he has never sniffed that kind of success since. He has only made three Pro Bowls in seven years with his only First Team All-Pro selection coming in 2015. Other quarterbacks such as Ken Anderson and Rich Gannon have similar accolades to Newton and they aren’t in the Hall of Fame.
The most redeeming part of Newton’s career is his rushing. He holds the record for the most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in history and could go down as the greatest running quarterback of all-time. Even so, other great running quarterbacks like Randall Cunningham and Michael Vick will fall short of the Hall of Fame. With only one 4,000 yard passing season, Newton seems like a stretch to make the Hall.
Greg Olsen TE
Olsen has only been to three Pro Bowls, but he’s the only tight end in NFL history to put together three consecutive 1,000 yard receiving seasons. Now that he’s refractured his foot, he’ll miss considerable time for the second straight season after missing no starts from 2012 through the end of 2016. With 641 receptions, 7,589 receiving yards, 53 receiving touchdowns, two Second Team All-Pro selections, and only an astonishing seven fumbles, where does Olsen rank among the all-time greats?
Jimmy Graham TE
Graham was king during his time in New Orleans with Drew Brees. He was the best tight end in the NFL and through the first five years of his career he was even on par with Rob Gronkowski. He was so good people sided with him when he argued that he wanted to be paid the same money as a wide receiver. Nobody would make that argument now. Despite making two Pro Bowls in the last three seasons, Graham’s dominance has waned quickly. With Five Pro Bowls, one First Team All-Pro selection, one Second Team All-Pro selection, 564 receptions, 6,903 receiving yards, and 69 receiving touchdowns, does he have enough to be ranked among the ten best tight ends of all-time?
Brandon Marshall WR
There’s no arguing that Marshall is one of the most talented receivers to ever play, but has he done enough to compete within his generation of stars who have continued to raise the bar for Hall of Famers at his position?
He’ll go down being compared to the likes of Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, Steve Smith Sr., and Reggie Wayne. Quite frankly, he’s buried under a lot of other talented receivers who have managed to accomplish more, up to this point, than he has. Throw in other cases like Calvin Johnson, Antonio Brown, and Julio Jones, and Marshall continues to sink deeper in the queue of great wide receivers.
To his credit, he has racked up 966 receptions, 12,305 receiving yards, and 83 receiving touchdowns during his career. Those numbers are good enough to be 16th, 22nd, and 22nd best all-time, respectively.
Cameron Wake DE
Wake’s career follows the James Harrison route. He’s been one of the best pass rushers of the last decade, but he didn’t record stats until 2009 when he was 27 years old. Because he started playing in games so late, he’s already 36 despite only being in his tenth season. Wake has been to five Pro Bowls, was a First Team All-Pro in 2012, was a Second Team All-Pro three times (2010, 2014, 2016), and has five seasons with ten sacks or more. Currently he has 92 sacks which puts him at forty-second all-time.
Justin Houston OLB
For a while it looked like Houston might be a career long rival of Von Miller, but things haven’t turned out that way. After a 22-sack season in 2014, Houston struggled with injuries and his numbers dipped. Not only that but the Chiefs started using him in different ways, letting him rush the passer less. Now in his eight season, Houston is looking for his fourth ten-sack season and fifth Pro Bowl. He’s got 69.5 sacks right now, which puts him at just under ten sacks per season if you don’t count the 2018 season, which just started.
Ryan Kerrigan OLB
At the start of his eighth season in the NFL Kerrigan has only been to three Pro Bowls but has 71.5 sacks. That means he’s averaged over ten sacks per season up to this point. While he hasn’t had the high career marks that Houston has had, Kerrigan has been more consistent. The 30 year old has never made an All-Pro team, but is still one of the best sack artists in the league since he was drafted in 2011 along with Houston and Miller. If he steps it up for the end of his career and continues to post ten sacks per season, a Hall of Fame debate isn’t out of the question, though it is unlikely.
Aqib Talib CB
Talib had a pension for acting immature in his younger years, and he still does but his game has improved by leaps and bounds. Talib is 32 years old and entering his eleventh NFL season on his fourth team. Most people would assume that means his play is declining, but on the contrary, he seems to be getting better. He has made the last five Pro Bowls and was even a First Team All-Pro in 2017. Statistically, his numbers are solid: 120 passes defensed, 34 interceptions, and ten defensive touchdowns. The issue is whether or not he reached his peak too late. There are tons of great defensive backs with the same numbers as Talib who aren’t in the Hall of Fame. Even though he’s been one of the most dominant corners in recent years, he might miss the Hall.
Eric Weddle FS
Weddle had the unfortunate situation of having to play in the shadows of Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu for most of his career. Weddle was always an exceptional player but his skill was masked and dwarfed by the two all-world safeties playing within his conference. Because he wasn’t able to compare to Reed or Polamalu, does that mean he isn’t a Hall of Famer? Not necessarily considering those two are exceptional even when compared to other Hall of Fame safeties.
Now in his eleventh season, he has 93 passes defensed, 29 interceptions, 8.5 sacks, five defensive touchdowns, and over 1,000 combined tackles. He’s made five Pro Bowls in five of the last seven seasons, twice the Associated Press made him a First Team All-Pro, and they’ve named him as a Second Team All-Pro three times.
Kam Chancellor SS
Chancellor’s playing career is effectively over thanks to a neck injury he suffered last season. It’s a shame we won’t get to see the hard-hitting safety take the field anymore on Sundays, but where does he fall among the all-time greats and does he have a chance to make the Hall of Fame?
Unfortunately, Chancellor really only spent six seasons in the NFL as a full-time starter. And while he did contribute immensely to forming the legendary Legion of Boom defense, he was just the third best defensive back in his own secondary. Because of this he never needed to be the primary playmaker or headliner on the defense, which will hurt his Hall of Fame chances. Then there are his numbers. Frankly, he played better than his career stats show, but there’s no guarantee the Hall of Fame voters will see that. Chancellor has 44 passes defenses, 12 interceptions, 11 forced fumbles, and over 600 combined tackles to go along with four Pro Bowls and two Second Team All-Pro selections.
Honorable Mentions- DeSean Jackson WR, Richard Sherman CB
Writer’s note: If you notice that any of the stats listed above seem off, it’s because NFL.com, ESPN, and Pro-Football-Reference have different numbers. It’s incredibly annoying that these leading sites are not on the same page, hopefully they’ll fix this in the future.