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
Julio Jones WR- 90% YES
Jones, along with Antonio Brown, has been one of the best receivers in the league for roughly the last five seasons. He doesn’t have as many First Team All-Pro selections as Brown, but he’s set a bunch of records related to his age. He already has over 10,000 receiving yards and only turned 30 after the 2018 season ended. He’s led the league in receiving yards per game three times.
Ryan will face more competition for the Hall of Fame considering he’s not in that lockdown group yet. There are a lot of quarterbacks, like the three from the 2004 Draft, that will get in ahead of him. His 2016 league MVP will have to carry his case along with good career totals. He’s only made one All-Pro team and four Pro Bowls in his career. He is tenth all-time in pass completions and twelfth in both passing yards and passing touchdowns. However, he’s sixth in all of those categories except passing touchdowns where he’s seventh. He’s doesn’t compare well against a lot of the other stalwarts of this era.
Mack has made six Pro Bowls, including the last four consecutively. Offensive linemen really need at least eight Pro Bowls and two or three First Team All-Pro selections for Hall of Fame consideration. Mack just turned 33. It’ll come down to what he can do here at the end of his career.
Jones made the Pro Bowl in his second season after a strong rookie campaign. Unfortunately, he only played in six games in 2018 because of injuries.
Luke Kuechly LB- 95% YES
Kuechly has been the best middle linebacker in the NFL since Patrick Willis and Ray Lewis retired. He was the Defensive Player of the Year in just his second season and has fought through injuries maintaining an active streak of six straight Pro Bowl appearances. In seven seasons, Kuechly has 948 combined tackles, five First Team All-Pro selections, and a Second Team All-Pro selection. Did I mention he’s only 28 years old?
Newton is an interesting case. He was the league’s MVP in 2015 but hasn’t made a Pro Bowl since and he’s only received the honor three times in his eight-year career. Heading into his age 30 season, Newton just had shoulder surgery that has some people questioning his long-term durability. His biggest boon, besides the MVP award, will be his contributions to the run game. He has the most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in history and is in the conversation with Michael Vick for being the best running quarterback of all-time. As a passer though, his numbers are average at best. He’s only thrown for more than 4,000 yards once, back in his rookie season.
McCoy has had quite the career so far, attending six Pro Bowls, and being named to one First and two Second All-Pro teams. McCoy is 31 now though and his tackling production took a major hit last season. He also hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2013. Don’t get me wrong, he should still be worth a guaranteed six to eight sacks for a couple more years and he’s got a Pro Bowl partner now in Kawann Short, but it just feels like McCoy’s best days are behind him. Even though he’s racked up a good number of awards, he doesn’t really compare to other Hall of Fame defensive tackles. He needs at least two more Pro Bowl appearances to make a serious Hall of Fame case.
Olsen is another strange case. I think he’ll be another intriguing dark horse candidate, but in all likelihood, he’ll miss the cut for Canton. Olsen has only been to three Pro Bowls and has missed large portions of the last two seasons with injuries, but he and Travis Kelce are the only tight ends in history with three-straight 1,000-yard seasons. Olsen has the fifth most receptions in history by a tight end, but that might not be enough to make up for his lack of accolades. I think he comes up short.
Drew Brees QB- 100% YES
Brees surpassed Peyton Manning last season for the most passing yards of all-time, and he’s shown no sign of stopping. Frankly, no quarterback has ever been on the statistical level of Brees. There have been 11 instances of quarterbacks throwing for over 5,000 yards in a single season, Brees is responsible for five of those occurrences. While he doesn’t have an MVP award, he’s been to the Pro Bowl 12 times, made five All-Pro teams, won two Offensive Player of the Year awards, won a Super Bowl, been a Comeback Player of the Year, and he’s either first or second all-time in completions, passing yards, and passing touchdowns.
Jordan’s success has been spread out cross his eight-year career, but he’s now made two of his four total Pro Bowl selections in back-to-back years. Jordan was also a First Team All-Pro in 2017 and a Second Team All-Pro in 2018. With 71.5 career sacks entering his age 30 season, Jordan is a little behind the pace you’d like to see from a Hall of Fame defensive end. However, Jordan is also a top-tier run defender and is clearly hitting his stride. It wouldn’t be shocking if a late-career push puts Jordan in Canton.
When the Saints took Thomas in the second round of the 2016 draft, they had no clue the kind of generational star they were getting. There’s a lot of talk about players like Beckham, Brown, Green, Hopkins, and Jones, but Thomas more than deserves to be in that conversation. Through his first three seasons, Thomas has 321 receptions, 3,787 receiving yards, and 23 receiving touchdowns. He’s also made two Pro Bowls and was a First Team All-Pro in 2018. Now, in his age 26 season, Thomas is hitting his prime and will likely remain among the top five receivers in the league for the six years or so.
Kamara was a steal in the third round back in 2017 and he’s building up a complicated legacy. Kamara has made the Pro Bowl both of his professional seasons and won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award in 2017. He’s racked up 3,146 yards from scrimmage and 31 rushing and receiving touchdowns through two seasons and was a Second Team All-Pro in 2017, but he is a bit of a statistical anomaly. Kamara has never rushed for 900 yards in a season or averaged 60 rushing yards per game in a season. He’s a great dual threat, but he’s not going to post conventional running numbers. In the future, that could make it hard to evaluate his impact with regards to All-Pro teams and the Hall of Fame.
Lattimore had a fast start to his career, making the Pro Bowl and winning the Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 2017, but he failed to make the Pro Bowl in 2018. He has the talent to play at a Pro Bowl level for the next decade, he just needs to capitalize on it.
Ndamukong Suh DT- 78% YES
I honestly can’t tell you if Suh will make the Hall of Fame. He was one of the most dominant players in the league when he was young, but he won’t post the long-term numbers and accolades that players like Cortez Kennedy and Warren Sapp have. I’d pound my fist for letting the gritty, and sometimes dirty, Suh into the Hall of Fame, but five Pro Bowls and three First Team All-Pro selections might not be enough. Another Pro Bowl year, if that’s possible, would go a long way.
David is one of the most underrated players in the NFL. The issue is he’s an outside linebacker, but he posts numbers similar to middle linebackers. Since entering the league in 2012, David has averaged 126 combined tackles per season and 8.4 tackles per game. He also has 21.5 sacks, ten interceptions, and 18 forced fumbles. David has only made one Pro Bowl, one First All-Pro Team, and one Second All-Pro Team, but he’s had four or five Pro Bowl-caliber seasons. I don’t think he’s a Hall of Fame level player, but he is criminally underrated.
JPP just can’t stay healthy. For a few years in New York, he looked like he would be a member of a historic group of young pass rushers, but things got derailed because of a freak fireworks incident. While Pierre-Paul has never fully gotten back to his 2011, First Team All-Pro form, he has bounced back with the Bucs. 2018 was Pierre-Paul’s third season with at least 12.5 sacks. He also posted 58 combined tackles and a forced fumble, two categories he thrives in when he’s healthy. Unfortunately, he’s already 30 and only has 71 total sacks. That’s good, but it’s not Hall of Fame worthy.
While Evans has only made two Pro Bowls and one Second All-Pro team during his career, I think he could take a DeAndre Hopkins sized jump forward if he’s paired with the right quarterback. We got a glimpse of what Evans can do when the passing game is working in 2018. He finished the season with 86 receptions, 1,524 receiving yards, and eight receiving touchdowns. Through five seasons, Evans has 395 receptions, 6,103 yards, and 40 touchdowns. He has all of the potential to be in that top five wide receiver conversation, now he just needs to be on a reliable offense.
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 Earl Thomas are the best safeties in the post-Ed Reed/Troy 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 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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