US Sports Veteran
I tried to include as many players worthy of consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame as possible. Because of the sheer number of players in the NFL, you won’t see all of the young players who could register a percentage. If you don’t see a veteran appear on this list, chances are it’s because I don’t believe they are worthy of consideration for the Hall of Fame. I took most players with any kind of accolades, so there won’t be many cases of veterans being left out and I don’t think any of them will be controversial.
Players are ranked by the percent chances they have of making the Hall of Fame as of right now, the percentages do not reflect potential future progress. This is based on production, accolades, and how players are viewed by the NFL community in relation to their peers. I also factored in individual statistical accomplishments. So, a sixth-year player might have a low percentage, but that could just be because they haven’t had the time to build up a full resume yet. This is subjective and the percentages have been generated from the categories I listed above. I have tried to remain consistent throughout my judgments. To clear things up a little, I have also included a “YES” or “NO” next to every listed percentage. If the player has a “YES”, then I believe they will be enshrined in Canton one day. “NO” obviously means I don’t see the player making the Hall of Fame.
To help you get a better grasp of what the percentages mean, there’s a key down below. There will be a few interesting cases where a player will bend the rules of the key and have a low percentage but receive a “YES”. These are exceptional cases usually with high production but few accolades or low production but many accolades. Essentially, they are underrated or overrated players. There are also some instances where a player is too young to be a valid candidate for the Hall of Fame, but I expect they will get there with future success.
All players are listed on the teams they will be a part of in 2019, and I am including players who have retired since the end of the season. This section, along with a one including current free agents, will appear in every article of this series. No rookies will appear on this list since they haven’t fully established baselines for production and only have one season officially completed. Second-year players like Saquon Barkley, Darius Leonard, Derwin James, Baker Mayfield, and Bradley Chubb would register some percentage, but that number would be so unstable that I don’t want to even include it. Therefore, the youngest players that will appear have at least two seasons under their belts.
90-100% = Guaranteed Hall of Famer
85-89% = Should be in the Hall of Fame
80-84% = Long wait but should get in
70-79% = Tossups, cases need a little more work
65-69% = Best players who won’t make the Hall/ Players with rare talent still building cases
50-64% = Great players, not enough stats or accolades for serious consideration
40-49% = A few Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections
30-39% = Some sustained success at a Pro Bowl level
20-29% = Rare Pro Bowl or All-Pro selections
0-19% = High peak for short time/ Long career with minor accolades/ Young players
Earl Thomas S- 82% YES
Thomas is the best safety since the end of the Ed Reed/Troy Polamalu era. Thomas and Eric Berry have been the next two safeties that have led the league. Unfortunately, Thomas landed on IR after just four games last season, but he still managed to record three interceptions during those appearances. In nine seasons, Thomas has made six Pro Bowls, three First All-Pro Teams, and two Second All-Pro Teams. Being the dynamic X-factor on the Legion of Boom defense will also help Thomas’ Hall of Fame case.
Yanda might see Terrell Suggs in Canton, but his chances are fading. Guards have it the worst out of all offensive linemen when it comes to Hall of Fame selections, just ask Alan Faneca. Faneca is still awaiting enshrinement despite nine Pro Bowl and six First-Team All-Pro selections. Yanda had made seven Pro Bowls and been on two First All-Pro Teams. He has been named to four Second All-Pro Teams, including the most recent one in 2018. Yanda will turn 35 next season and he has a lot of ground to make up. I don’t think he’ll make the Hall of Fame.
In his seven-year career, Tucker has only missed one extra point during the regular season. He currently holds the records for percentage of field goals and percentage of extra points made. Entering his age 30 season, Tucker could be around for a while, which is good because he’s got plenty of work to do. He’s currently scored the 69th most points in NFL history with 952. That puts him two ahead of Randy Moss and a heck of a long way off from Adam Vinatieri’s 2,600. Morten Andersen, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017, scored 2,544 points during his career. If Tucker plans on making the Hall of Fame, I hope he’s prepared to work into his 40s.
Ingram has been to two Pro Bowls and has recorded two 1,000-yard seasons. A suspension limited his production last year, but he’s now the leader in the Baltimore backfield. Eight years into his NFL career, at 29 years old, there’s no real conceivable way for Ingram to make the Hall of Fame.
Geno Atkins DT- 83% YES
The Bengals have two franchise all-time greats on their team right now. Atkins was a fourth-round pick in 2010. Atkins only started one game his rookie season, but he’s taken off since then. He’s been to seven Pro Bowls (including five straight) and has made two First All-Pro Teams. Through nine seasons, Atkins has racked up 335 combined tackles and 71 sacks. The sack total stands out the most since Atkins leads all active defensive tackles in sacks and the only active player who is better at rushing the passer from the position is Aaron Donald. Atkins doesn’t strike me as a first-ballot guy, but I can definitely see him making the Hall of Fame.
Green was a first-round selection in 2011 and he’s lived up to the pick. Green made the Pro Bowl each of his first seven seasons in the NFL and he only missed it in 2018 because of injuries. Through his eight-year career, Green has recorded 602 receptions, 8,907 receiving yards, and 63 receiving touchdowns. The biggest issue for Green is that he’s never been the best receiver in the league. He only has two Second Team All-Pro selections and has been outshined in recent years. A string of injuries hasn’t helped either. Things could come down to the wire with Green as he might be outshined when it comes time for Hall of Fame voting.
Odell Beckham Jr. WR- 60% YES
Beckham will be a Hall of Famer as long as he stays healthy. He’s missed the Pro Bowl the last two seasons because he’s only played in a combined 16 games. Still, he’s averaging 92.8 receiving yards per game during his career, which is the second most all-time, just shy of Julio Jones’ 96.7. Besides his iconic one-handed catches, which will help his case, Beckham has three Pro Bowls and two Second Team All-Pro selections behind him. He’ll only be turning 27 in 2019, so he’s got plenty of years left in his prime. Also, he has 390 receptions, 5,476 receiving yards, and 44 receiving touchdowns through five seasons. Except, he’s only played in 59 games. That’s approximately three full seasons and 11 games worth of time, yet he has five-year type numbers.
Landry is in a similar boat to Green. He’s made the last four Pro Bowls but has never been an All-Pro. On top of that, he catches a lot of short passes which limits his yardage and touchdown totals. While he has 481 receptions, 5,014 receiving yards, and 26 receiving touchdowns through five seasons, I think it’ll be hard for Landry to make a Hall of Fame case against the top receivers from his era.
Garrett is freakishly athletic and has added another face to a long list of budding young pass rushers. He recorded seven sacks in his rookie season despite dealing with injuries, then he followed up the hype with an even better sophomore performance. He recorded 13.5 sacks in 2018 and made the Pro Bowl. My biggest knock on him is that he doesn’t play the run as well as someone like Joey Bosa.
Ben Roethlisberger QB- 95% YES
Roethlisberger has had the highest peak of the 2004 quarterbacks. He’s won two Super Bowls, been to the game three times, won seven division titles, and has led the league in passing yards twice (2014 passing yardage crown shared with Brees). The last five or six years of Roethlisberger’s career have completely transformed his résumé into one that’s worthy of Canton. He currently is seventh all-time in completions, sixth in passing yards, and seventh in passing touchdowns.
The Steelers have had several great centers, including Mike Webster and Dermontti Dawson. Add Pouncey’s name to that list. The former Florida Gator has made the Pro Bowl in seven of his nine seasons, his only absences being 2013 and 2015 when injuries only allowed him to play in one game total. Centers have trouble getting into Canton, but Kevin Mawae just got enshrined after a 16-year career where he made eight Pro Bowls, three First All-Pro Teams, and four Second All-Pro Teams. In comparison, Pouncey has seven Pro Bowls, two First All-Pro Team selections, and three Second All-Pro Team selections. In terms of accolades, Pouncey needs a few more good years to solidify his status.
DeCastro’s career started slowly. He didn’t make a Pro Bowl until his fourth season, but he has steadily built up a large list of accomplishments since then. DeCastro has made the last four Pro Bowls and was a First Team All-Pro in 2015 and 2017. Unfortunately, 2019 will already be DeCastro’s age 29 season, putting him a little behind the curve as far as accolades are concerned. Former Chiefs guard Will Shields was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2015, but the guard has 12 Pro Bowl and six total All-Pro selections to his name. DeCastro can make a late-career push, but the Hall is still a long way off.
Heyward has always been a grinder since he was selected out of Ohio St. in the first round back in 2011. He didn’t start full-time until his third season and didn’t make a Pro Bowl until 2017, his seventh season in the league. 2017 was a breakout year though, and Heyward was named a First Team All-Pro. He made the Pro Bowl again in 2018 after moving inside and playing some defensive tackle along with his usual work as a defensive end.
Antonio Gates TE- 100% YES
Gates holds to record for the most receiving touchdowns by a tight end in NFL history. He also ranks third all-time in receptions and receiving yards at his position. Gates has ten seasons with 700 receiving yards or more, making him at least a top-five tight end of all-time and one of the most dominant players in NFL history. He has 955 receptions, 11,841 receiving yards, and 116 receiving touchdowns.
Eric Berry S- 83% YES
Berry has played just three regular-season games over the last two seasons. His recent injuries are just the latest in a long list that have plagued the Tennessee product throughout his career. The most famous ailment was when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma back in 2014. Berry beat cancer just in time to come back for the 2015 season, winning Comeback Player of the Year, and making a First All-Pro Team. Throughout his career, the long-time Chief has made five Pro Bowls and three First All-Pro Teams. Berry and Thomas are the best safeties in the post-Reed/Polamalu era.
Brandon Marshall WR- 74% NO
Marshall hasn’t hung up his cleats yet, but the end must be near. He saw action in seven games in 2018 but averaged less than 20 yards per game. I hope that’s not how Marshall is remembered though. At one point, Marshall was one of the most elite wide receivers in the entire league. He has eight seasons with over 1,000 receiving yards and six seasons with 100 or more receptions, which statistically ranks among some of the game’s greats. However, his numbers are along the borderline of great and all-time great. He’s 16th all-time in receptions and 22nd in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. He also has six Pro Bowls, one First Team All-Pro selection, and one Second Team All-Pro selection. I don’t think Marshall will make the Hall of Fame. Consider how players like Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt are still waiting for induction, and Anquan Boldin, Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson, Steve Smith Sr., and Reggie Wayne are coming down the pipe. Marshall will be left on the outside looking in.
Kam Chancellor S- 60% NO
Chancellor still hasn’t technically retired even though he hasn’t played in a game since 2017. The former enforcer of the Legion of Boom suffered a career-ending neck injury in 2017 but remained on the Seahawks roster until recently. A four-time Pro Bowler and two-time Second Team All-Pro, Chancellor was one of the fiercest hitters in recent history. He really was like a linebacker playing safety. He’s a dark-horse Hall of Fame candidate. Being a part of the Legion of Boom could really help his case.
Brent Grimes CB- 27% NO
Even at age 35, Grimes still carries around the chip of being undrafted. Optimus Grimes has made four Pro Bowls in his career and racked up 33 interceptions, but he didn’t post an interception in 2018. The only other times he hasn’t recorded an interception in a season were in 2012 when he played just one game because of an injury, and 2007 when he appeared in just two games as a rookie. Grimes was a Second Team All-Pro in 2014.
Doug Baldwin WR- 18% NO
Speaking of having a chip on your shoulder, Baldwin, like Grimes, was an undrafted free agent determined to make the league acknowledge its’ mistake in not drafting him. Through eight seasons, Baldwin made two Pro Bowls, recorded 6,563 receiving yards, and led the league in receiving touchdowns once. Unfortunately, the Seahawks cut him after it was revealed he might never play again because of injuries.
Julius Peppers DE- 100% YES
Peppers has the fourth most sacks of all-time. He’s easily a first ballot Hall of Famer and no one will question it when he walks into Canton. It’s still hard to believe he recorded 11 sacks at 37 years old. Peppers finishes his career with 159.5 sacks, over 700 combined tackles, 51 forced fumbles, nine Pro Bowls, three First Team All-Pro selections, and three Second Team All-Pro selections. It’s sad to see one of the all-time greats walk away from the game.
Rob Gronkowski TE- 100% YES
Gronkowski, when healthy, was the most dominant tight end in the game since the unfathomable Tony Gonzalez. Gronkowski could have hit heights we’ve never seen before by a tight end if he wasn’t injured so often. His physical dominance makes him nearly unstoppable at points, but it’s also why he’s hurt so often. In his nine seasons, Gronk has made five Pro Bowls and made four First All-Pro Teams. He was also the 2014 Comeback Player of the Year. He finished his career with 521 receptions, 7,861 receiving yards, and 79 receiving touchdowns. He’s only set to turn 30 this year.
Marshawn Lynch RB- 100% YES
I thought Lynch had done enough to make the Hall of Fame when he retired after the 2015 season. He only solidified his candidacy by returning to the Gridiron and surpassing the 10,000-yard rushing mark. Lynch did miss most of 2018 with an injury, but he was averaging 62.7 rushing yards per game before going down. That would translate to just over 1,000 yards if he played in all 16 games. 2019 will be Lynch’s age 33 season, but I’d bet he still has some Beast Mode left in him.
Shane Lechler P- 77% NO
How does a punter finish with a 77% chance to make the Hall of Fame? Let me explain. While I don’t see Lechler making the Hall of Fame, he’ll be just the second full-time punter to garner serious consideration. The first was Ray Guy. In his 18-year career, Lechler made seven Pro Bowls (all with the Oakland Raiders), was a member of six First All-Pro Teams, and was on three Second All-Pro Teams as well. He was also selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame First Team All-2000s Team. He led the league in yards per punt five times and finished first in total punt yards four times. In comparison, Guy played 14 seasons, all with the Raiders, and he made three First All-Pro Teams and led the league in yards per punt three times. Guy is the best punter of all-time and is in the Hall of Fame. What does that say about Lechler?
Jamaal Charles RB- 72% NO
I think it’s too often overlooked that Charles was once challenging Adrian Peterson for Pro Bowl and All-Pro bids. He was on that level before injuries stole what looked like a blossoming Hall of Fame career. The star running back missed most of 2011, 2015, and 2016 with injuries. He was a seldom-used backup in 2017 and 2018. Before the fall though, Charles had five 1,000-yard rushing seasons. His yards per carry average was one of the best marks of all-time. He was also a strong pass catcher, recording seven receiving touchdowns in 2013. Even with the injuries and setbacks, Charles still managed to record 10,156 yards from scrimmage in his career. He made four Pro Bowls, was a two-time First Team All-Pro, and a one-time Second Team All-Pro. Among qualified players, Charles’ 5.4 rushing yards per carry trail only Randall Cunningham (6.4), Marion Motley (5.7), and Michael Vick (7.0) on the all-time list.
Haloti Ngata DT- 66% NO
Ngata played football with a style that is dying out in the modern game. While he was listed as a defensive tackle, Ngata ate up space like a nose tackle, which created room for Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs to operate in. The long-time Baltimore Raven finished his career with 515 combined tackles, 32.5 sacks, and 37 passes defensed. He won a Super Bowl with the Ravens, went to five Pro Bowls, was voted to two First All-Pro Teams, and also made three Second All-Pro Teams. Ngata’s numbers will never jump off of the page, it takes a deeper look to see the impact he made during his career.
Ryan Kalil C- 56% NO
Kalil has made five Pro Bowls and been named to two First All-Pro Teams. That’s praiseworthy, but I don’t believe it will be anywhere near enough. Just jump up to the Atlanta Falcons section and see what I had to say about Mack. Offensive linemen really do get the short end of the stick when it comes to the Hall of Fame.
Kyle Williams DT- 52% NO
Williams retired after the 2018 season. He had a great 13-year career with the Bills, racking up over 600 combined tackles and 48.5 sacks. He made the Pro Bowl in his final season, giving him six total. While he was consistent and frequently recognized for his skill, he only made one Second All-Pro Team (2010) and that doesn’t warrant Hall of Fame consideration.
Brian Orakpo LB- 31% NO
While he had a nice career, some of Orakpo’s prime years were sapped by injuries. He recorded seven sacks or more seven times in his career and finished with a grand total of 66. Unfortunately, Orakpo played just nine combined games in 2012 and 2014. He went to four Pro Bowls and never made an All-Pro team.
Max Unger C- 27% NO
Unger’s retirement was a surprise. He made the Pro Bowl in 2018 for the first time since 2013 and is a key reason for why the New Orleans Saints offensive line has improved so much recently. In total, Unger went to three Pro Bowls, was a First Team All-Pro in 2012, and won a Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks.
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