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
Larry Fitzgerald WR- 100% YES
Fitzgerald is in the top six for all three major statistical categories for wide receivers, putting him on par with the greatest receivers of all-time. He’s routinely performed incredibly in the playoffs and has persevered through many tough years with mediocre quarterbacks. Fitzgerald is also just a great guy and has no off the field blemishes that would hurt his Hall of Fame candidacy.
When he got hurt in 2015, it seemed like Suggs would come up short of the Hall of Fame. Then the former Defensive Player of the Year flipped the script and recorded 26 total sacks in the next three seasons. He now has as many sacks as Lawrence Taylor. Suggs’ consistency has secured his place in Canton.
Peterson will also be joining Fitzgerald and Suggs in Canton one day. He’s made the Pro Bowl every year he’s been in the league and has been the most consistent cornerback of the post-Darrelle Revis generation. His recent six-game PED suspension is surprising and will likely end his Pro Bowl streak, but it shouldn’t change the ultimate outcome of his career.
Jones is an interesting case. He led the league in sacks in 2017 and has averaged eleven sacks per year during his career, but he has never really separated himself from the other great pass rushers in the league. That being said, another four or five years of this kind of production could change everything.
David Johnson RB- 14% NO
Johnson had an underwhelming season in 2018 and, despite being one of the four best backs in the league in 2016, he really only has one good season under his belt. It’s too soon to say whether he’ll regain his form or not.
Aaron Donald DT- 90% YES
As J.J. Watt began to struggle with injuries, Donald arrived on the scene and became the best defensive player in the NFL. In just five years Donald has made five Pro Bowls, four First All-Pro Teams, won two Defensive Player of the Year awards, and recorded 59.5 sacks. At the rate he’s going, Donald could become the first player in NFL history to win the DPOY award more than three times.
Weddle had to spend his prime playing in a league dominated by Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu. Because of this, he was largely overshadowed. Weddle has made six Pro Bowls, two First All-Pro Teams, and three Second All-Pro Teams. Safeties have trouble making it into the Hall of Fame though, just ask John Lynch and Steve Atwater. Lynch made nine Pro Bowls and two First All-Pro Teams. While Weddle has made the last three Pro Bowls and could go to more if he keeps playing, right now he’s a few accolades short of where he needs to be. I think he’ll be a great Hall of Fame dark horse candidate though.
Matthews will likely forever be buried under names like Von Miller, Suggs, etc. Never the less, Matthews has an impressive resume. He’s been to six Pro Bowls, made one First and Second All-Pro Team, and is the Packers franchise leader in sacks. However, six decent seasons and 83.5 sacks are hardly Hall of Fame worthy.
Talib is in relatively the same boat as Matthews. He’s made five Pro Bowls, made one First and Second All-Pro Team, and has won a Super Bowl. The 33-year-old also has 35 career interceptions, ten of which he’s returned for touchdowns. Talib had made five straight Pro Bowls entering 2018 but injuries limited him to just eight appearances in his first season with the Rams. Talib has cemented himself as a very good player, but he doesn’t have the makings of a Hall of Famer yet.
Along with Barkley, Le’Veon Bell, and Ezekiel Elliott, Gurley is one of the best backs in the NFL today. There are plenty of concerns after his suspect performances late in the postseason, and reports regarding arthritis in his knee, but he’s been solid through his four-year career. Gurley made the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2015 and won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. He had a major sophomore slump before bouncing back in 2017 to make the Pro Bowl, the First All-Pro Team, and he won the Offensive Player of the Year award. Gurley was a First Team All-Pro again in 2018. He has 1,042 career carries for 4,547 rushing yards, 46 rushing touchdowns, 6,430 yards from scrimmage, and 56 rushing and receiving touchdowns.
Whitworth is returning for his age 38 season. The 13-year veteran didn’t make the Pro Bowl until his seventh year in the league, and he’s been steadily racking up accolades since then. Whitworth has been to four Pro Bowls and is a two-time First Team All-Pro. It’s fairly safe to say that Whitworth won’t be making the Hall of Fame, but he’s had a stellar career nonetheless.
After a prolific start to his career on the field, Peters has not made a Pro Bowl since 2016 and failed to live up to the hype in his first year in Los Angeles. In 2015, as a rookie, Peters led the league in interceptions (eight), interception return yards (280), interceptions returned for touchdowns (two), and passes defensed (26). He made the Pro Bowl, was a Second Team All-Pro, and won the Defensive Rookie of the Year award as a result. He had another great year in 2016, recording six more interceptions, 20 passes defenses, and making the First All-Pro Team. He went on the record five interceptions and nine passes defensed in 2017 and three interceptions with eight passes defensed in 2018. Peters needs a big year in 2019 to get his career back on track for the Hall of Fame.
After having one of the worst years by a rookie quarterback in recent memory, Goff has bounced back to make two straight Pro Bowls. Unfortunately, he was overwhelmed in the Super Bowl and reverted back to some of his old habits. It’s up to Sean McVay to get his young quarterback in the right mindset before the start of the 2019 season.
Richard Sherman CB- 89% YES
Sherman is a difficult case. He had such a high peak, but is the longevity there? Yeah, actually it is. For the first time in his career, Sherman didn’t record an interception this season. However, people still fear Sherman, and they should. During his eight-year career, Sherman has 404 combined tackles, 32 interceptions, and 103 passes defensed. He’s been to the Pro Bowl four times and has made three First All-Pro Teams. He was a Second Team All-Pro in 2015. He should have made five Pro Bowls, but he wasn’t voted in by the fans in 2012 despite being selected as a First Team All-Pro later on. At his peak, Sherman was the best cornerback in the league for two or three years. The shutdown corner of the Legion of Boom will be in the Hall of Fame, especially since we just saw Ty Law get in this year.
Staley has been with the 49ers for his entire 12-year career. Like Atlanta’s Alex Mack, Staley has been to six Pro Bowls and has been one of the mainstays in the league for years. I would love to give him a higher percentage, but realistically, the Hall of Fame is out of his reach. While Staley has been on three Second All-Pro Teams, the highest rated left tackle in any of my upcoming article, Philadelphia’s Jason Peters, has been to nine Pro Bowls and made multiple First All-Pro Teams. By comparison, Staley’s career is still great but it’s not legendary.
Kittle has one good year under his belt. That’s it. I’m not going to overreact, but he did set the record for most receiving yards by a tight end in a single season with 1,377. As a reward, he made the Pro Bowl and was a Second Team All-Pro. While he will already be turning 26 this year, he’s off to a hot start after just two seasons.
Bobby Wagner LB- 85% YES
As far as middle linebackers go, Luke Kuechly is the only player in the league who can even compete with Wagner right now. Wagner has been to the last five Pro Bowls and has made four of the last five First All-Pro Teams. He’s was in the discussion for Defensive Player of the Year a couple of seasons ago, but it’s hard to compete with Donald right now. Since entering the NFL seven years ago, Wagner has 916 combined tackles. That’s 130 combined tackles per season! A player maintaining that production over seven years is insane.
Wilson is in an interesting situation. He’s already won a Super Bowl, made five Pro Bowls, and been thrown around in MVP discussions. Yet, he’s playing in the league during an era dominated by other Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Because of his playing style and Seattle’s offensive scheme, Wilson won’t have the career numbers to compete with a Brady, Brees, Rivers, Rodgers, or Roethlisberger. At the same time, you can tell Wilson has that “it” factor that puts him on a Hall of Fame level. He’s an efficient winner who could play in the league for up to another decade.
There are a bunch of talented left tackles in the league right now and that means Brown is ultimately going to be buried by his competition. Brown has made four Pro Bowls, a First All-Pro Team, and two Second All-Pro Teams, including one in 2018. While he’s a great player, Brown isn’t the kind of generational talent you look for in a Hall of Famer.
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.
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-Reed/Polamalu era.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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 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.
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 Alex Mack. Offensive linemen really do get the short end of the stick when it comes to the Hall of Fame.
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.
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.
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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