US Sports Veteran
Ben Roethlisberger QB
Big Ben has gone to six Pro Bowls and three Super Bowls, two of which he won. He has made the last four Pro Bowls. Right now he ranks 8th all-time in passing yards, 9th in passing touchdowns, and 8th in pass completions.
Le’Veon Bell also fits here, but it’s hard to predict how often injured running backs will perform in the future, even if that running back is one of the best dual threats in the sport. Antonio Brown is already a Hall of Famer. He’s been on a historic tear these last five years and many believe he is the greatest receiver in the game today. Since entering the NFL Pouncey has basically missed two full seasons with injuries, 2013 and 2015, but has made the Pro Bowl in his other six years. It’s hard for a lineman with under ten Pro Bowls to make the Hall of Fame.
Terrell Suggs LB
Suggs was a part of a legendary trio on the Baltimore defense with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Suggs is a seven time Pro Bowler, one time First Team All-Pro, and a former Defensive Player of the year. He has been the model of consistency, recording eight or more sacks in eleven seasons. He is 17th all-time in sacks.
Weddle was overshadowed by legends Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu for most of his career, but since their retirements, Weddle has been rejuvenated. He’s been to five Pro Bowls, is a two time First Team All-Pro, has 29 career interceptions, and has over 1,000 combined tackles during his career. Yanda is one of the best interior offensive linemen in football. Prior to missing most of 2017 with an injury, he’d made six straight Pro Bowls. After his injury, how many years does Yanda have left?
A.J. Green WR
Green has made the Pro Bowl in all of his seven seasons in the NFL. During that time he has recorded 556 receptions, 8,213 yards, and 57 touchdowns. He has been inside or hovering around the top five receiver mark for most of his career, but he has never been considered the best receiver in the league.
Atkins is almost criminally overlooked time and time again. He never publicly is given the respect he deserves. In eight year the 6-1 300lbs. defensive tackle has 61 sacks, recording nine or more in a season four times. He’s a six time Pro Bowler and two time First Team All-Pro.
Jarvis Landry WR
Landry has been to the last three Pro Bowls and has 400 career receptions in just four NFL seasons. He also has over 4,000 yards and exactly 22 touchdowns. Landry by far has the most complete résumé on the young Cleveland Browns. He is one of the best short game receivers in the NFL but has the agility to shake defenders in open space and break off bigger gains.
Garrett flashed what he was capable in his rookie season. In just 11 games, nine as a starter, he had seven sacks. If he stays healthy, he will likely join players like Joey Bosa as one of the top young pass rushers of the next generation.
Jamal Adams S
The New York Jets are about as depleted, in terms of great veteran, as any team in the league. That puts the young man, Adams, in the position of being the most promising player, long term, on the roster. He could easily become a Pro Bowler in the second year of his NFL career.
He made the Pro Bowl in 2016 and had a terrible let down season in 2017. Quite frankly, he’s here because the Jets don’t offer a lot of players to choose from. Williams does have Pro Bowl potential, he just needs some help on the defensive line so he can be free to rush the passer some more.
Tom Brady QB
Brady is the greatest quarterback to ever play the game of football. He may be the greatest player as well, only Jerry Rice can compete with him for that spot. Anyways, 13 Pro Bowls, three league MVPs, and five Super Bowl trophies are more than enough to earn him this spot. He is the definition of a Hall of Fame lock.
He may be injury prone, but when he’s healthy Gronkowski is nearly unstoppable. He’s been to five Pro Bowls and has been a First Team All-Pro four times. Even after just his age 28 season, he’s already a top ten tight end of all-time.
LeSean McCoy RB
McCoy has been to six Pro Bowls and is a two time First Team All-Pro. He crossed the 10,000 rushing yards mark last season with his sixth 1,000 yard rushing season. McCoy also has an impressive 3,378 receiving yards on 441 receptions, making him one of the most dynamic backs in the NFL. Currently he sits 29th all-time in rushing yards.
As a rookie, White performed well in 2017. He recorded four interceptions along with 18 passes defensed and was a borderline Pro Bowl caliber player. This selection is betting on White to grow and develop into the star he can be.
Frank Gore RB
He may have only been selected to five Pro Bowls, but Gore is 5th all-time in rushing yards and is the NFL’s active leader in the category. All other backs inside the top ten rushers of all-time are Hall of Famers. Gore is also 7th all-time in yards from scrimmage and 12th in all-purpose yards. He is the very definition of a work horse running back. His consistency has also been astonishing; he has rushed for 960 yards or more in eleven of his thirteen seasons.
The first year Wake saw the field was in 2009 when he was already 27 years old. At age 35 last season he logged his fifth season with ten sacks or more. He has 92 sacks in his career and will likely hit 100 this season, barring injury. Because of his late start, Wake will be an interesting Hall of Fame case in the future.
Von Miller LB
In seven NFL seasons Miller has six Pro Bowl appearances, three First Team All-Pro selections, and 83.5 sacks. Miller has become a nearly unrivaled force as a pass rusher and is capable of collapsing offensive game plans by himself. He is also a three time Second Team All-Pro.
Would you believe he went undrafted? Somehow he did, and the Broncos were lucky enough to sign him. Harris has been one of the best cornerbacks in the league for the last four seasons or so, making three Pro Bowls and being selected to one First Team All-Pro squad. He has a lot of work to do before his career is over.
Eric Berry S
It’s true, Berry is often injured but the man beat cancer and returned in one of the greatest stories of personal triumph in NFL history. Berry’s instinctive play and ability to shutdown versatile players like Rob Gronkowski in man coverage, have earned him five Pro Bowls and three First Team All-Pro selections. His heart and perseverance will never be questioned.
Houston should have made the Pro Bowl in 2017 but didn’t even though he has 9.5 sacks while pass rushing less than he has in the past. He had 22 sacks in 2014 before injuries hampered his 2015 and 2016 seasons. He has 69.5 sacks in seven NFL seasons. If he returns to form, he belongs in the Hall of Fame. Kelce is the best tight end in the league not names Rob Gronkowski. He has 850 receiving yards or more in the last four seasons and over 1,000 in each of the last two years. In the last four years he has 307 receptions, 3,900 receiving yards, and 22 receiving touchdowns. Hopefully, he can keep this great stretch going.
Philip Rivers QB
Postseason glory has eluded Rivers, but the quarterback has still made seven Pro Bowls and has thrown for over 4,000 yards nine times in his career. Rivers is 9th in passing yards, 6th in passing touchdowns, and 7th in pass completions. And he did all that playing with a terrible offensive line for about half of his career.
Bosa has 23 sacks in his only two seasons in the NFL. He showed great improvements in his array of pass rushes and increased his tackle totals on his second season. He’ll turn 23 in 2018 and could become the greatest pass rusher in his era. Casey Hayward also deserves to be mentioned. He’s made the Pro Bowl the last two seasons with the Chargers and has 11 interceptions during that time.
Marshawn Lynch RB
Besides authoring the greatest run in NFL history, Lynch has gone to five Pro Bowls, been selected as a First Team All-Pro once, and won a Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks. Lynch crossed the 10,000 rushing yards threshold this season and also recorded his eightieth rushing touchdown. He looked pretty good for a guy who spent a year in retirement. Lynch is 31st in rushing yards and 18th in rushing touchdowns all-time.
The two young studs have already shown they can be great. Mack has 40.5 sacks in his first four seasons and was the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year, while Carr has 13 fourth quarter comebacks. They’ve both been to the last three Pro Bowls.
Jalen Ramsey CB
Ramsey has Patrick Peterson levels of potential. In just his second season he made the Pro Bowl and was a First Team All-Pro. This guy seems to be the next great corner in line to take the throne as the league’s premier shutdown defensive back.
The monstrous 6-8, 300 pound defensive end has 71 career sacks and over 560 combined tackles. He’s been a consistent force in the league for years and his role as a veteran leader on a young Jaguars defense may elevated him to new heights in 2017. He still may be a long shot for the Hall of Fame though, with just three Pro Bowls and one First Team All-Pro selection.
J.J. Watt DE
Watt is one of only two players with three Defensive Player of the Year awards in NFL history, the other is Lawrence Taylor. For four years Watt was the most dominant man in football, but injuries have stolen the last two seasons from the super star. Still, a man who should have won an MVP as a defender, is easily a first ballot Hall of Famer.
Hopkins has played for five seasons and will just be turning 26 before the 2018 season begins. Hopes are that he and Deshaun Watson will finally stabilize the Texans offense. Clowney had a slow start to his NFL career, but at the age of 25, he has already made two Pro Bowls.
Adam Vinatieri K
It’s rare to talk about kickers as future Hall of Famers, but Vinatieri has more than earned the right to be spoken about in this fashion. He has been playing in the NFL for the past 22 years and is less than 100 points away from becoming the highest scoring player in NFL history. I also can’t forget to mention his pension for late game heroics, especially on the biggest stage in the sport. That’s part of the reason why he’s won four Super Bowls.
Before his injury, Luck was on his way to replacing Peyton Manning in the hearts of Colts fans. In five seasons he made the Pro Bowl and threw for over 4,000 yards three times. How will he play if he ever gets back on the gridiron?
Jurrell Casey DT
The big defensive tackle has made the Pro Bowl three straight years in a row and is finally getting the recognition he deserves. From his interior position on the Tennessee line, Casey has 39 sacks in his seven years in the league. He’s literally been at the center of it all on the Titans defense for the better part of the last decade.
In his first season as a full-time starter, Byard made the Pro Bowl and was a First Team All-Pro. He recorded a league leading eight interceptions. I’m betting on a young player with this pick, although I suppose Taylor Lewan should also be given consideration.
Odell Beckham Jr. WR
This selection shouldn’t be shocking. Beckham, despite missing most of 2017 with an injury, is constantly talked about being one of the best, if not the best, receiver in the league. He made the Pro Bowl in each of his three first NFL seasons and caught over ten touchdowns those years as well. His crazy abilities and greatness at his position just outshines Eli Manning and gives him a better chance to make the Hall of Fame than his polarizing quarterback.
Manning has won two Super Bowls and been to four Pro Bowls along the way. He will finish his career inside the top ten all-time in all three major statistical categories for quarterbacks. What he has meant to New York and the Giants can’t be overstated. The football community as a whole is split on whether or not Manning is a Hall of Famer.
Jason Peters OT
Peters also missed most of 2017, but he was the most accomplished offensive lineman in the league not named Joe Thomas. Now that Thomas has retired, Peters finally takes the number one spot. The left tackle has been to nine Pro Bowls and is a two time First Team All-Pro.
Before his injury, in 2017 Wentz was on his way to being the NFL’s MVP. At the age of 25, with just two seasons under his belt, he is already one of the best quarterbacks in the game and is a Super Bowl champion. Cox is part of an incredible group of defensive tackles in the league right now. He’s been to the last three Pro Bowls and will turn 28 in 2018.
Zack Martin OG
Tryon Smith could go here, but Martin has accomplished just about as much as his teammate and in less time. Quite frankly he is just more dominant at his position than Smith. Martin will continue to open up holes for Ezekiel Elliott to run through and rack up accolades while he’s at it.
Smith has been to five Pro Bowls and is a two time First Team All-Pro. He has been the backbone of a Cowboys offensive line that has been one of the best in league for several years. Elliot suffered from a suspension last year but has led the league in rushing yards per game in both of his NFL seasons.
Trent Williams OT
Another offensive lineman holds this spot. Williams has made the last six Pro Bowls as a left tackle for the Redskins. He has never been named to a First Team All-Pro team, but he made the Second Team All-Pro squad in 2015. He’d have a better chance of earning more accolades if he didn’t consistently miss a few games each year with injuries.
Kerrigan is as underrated as any player in the NFL right now. He’s been to three Pro Bowls and has 71.5 sacks in his seven seasons in the league. If it weren’t for the other great pass rushers from the 2011 draft, he’d be more well known. He’s a very likable dark horse for the Hall of Fame.
Earl Thomas S
Since Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed retired, Thomas has been the best safety in the NFL. He was the quiet backbone and x-factor of the Legion of Boom and accumulated six Pro Bowls and three First Team All-Pro selections. He will be remembered as the leader if the generation of safeties to follow the two aforementioned greats.
I’d feel bad if I didn’t also mention Kam Chancellor because of his own greatness, but Wagner and Wilson have better chances to make the Hall of Fame. Wilson has been to four Pro Bowls and is a Super Bowl winning quarterback. Wagner also has four Pro Bowl appearances but is also a three time First Team All-Pro and one of, if not the best, middle linebackers in the game today. Marshall is approaching 1,000 career receptions. He signed with the Seahawks this offseason after the worst year of his career. He may have Hall of Fame numbers, but do people actually think he’s a Hall of Famer? Opinions are split.
Larry Fitzgerald WR
Fitzgerald is arguably a top five wide receiver of all-time. He’s made 11 Pro Bowls, despite playing most of his career with subpar quarterbacks. Fitzgerald has five years with at least 100 receptions, nine with at least 1,000 receiving yards, and five with at least ten touchdowns. He ranks 3rd all-time in receptions, 3rd in receiving yards, and 8th in receiving touchdowns.
It’s impossible to argue this, Peterson has been to the Pro Bowl every year of his career and is a three time First Team All-Pro. When all is said and done he’ll be remembered as one of, if not the, greatest cornerback of the post-Darrelle Revis era.
Aaron Donald DT
In just four seasons, Donald has recorded 39 sacks, made four Pro Bowls, been selected to three First Team All-Pro teams, and won a Defensive Player of the Year award. Many believe he has filled the hole left by an injured J.J. Watt as the league’s premier defender.
Gurley was the 2017 Offensive Player of the Year and seems to only be getting better as he gains experience. Suh is entering the back end of his career, but he was the best defensive tackle in the league before Donald arrived. Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters also deserve mentions here. Talib has been to the last five Pro Bowls and has 34 career interceptions, ten of which he returned for touchdowns. Peters missed the Pro Bowl in 2017, but still has five interceptions. In just three years he has 19 career picks, five forced fumbles, and five fumbles recovered.
Richard Sherman CB
Sherman missed most of last season because of an injury, but he was near, if not atop, the cornerback ranks for several years during the reign of the Legion of Boom. He made four Pro Bowls and was a three time First Team All-Pro in Seattle, hopefully he can return to form with the San Francisco 49ers.
The left tackle bounced back from a Pro Bowl-less 2016 to earn the honor for the sixth time in 2017. Staley will be turning 34 in 2018 but is still a model of consistency on the new, exciting 49ers.
Julio Jones WR
Similar to the Odell Beckham situation, Jones just has a higher ceiling than Matt Ryan and some people already consider him to have compiled a Hall of Fame résumé, while Ryan still needs to find consistent greatness. Jones has been one of the top five receivers in the league since his major breakout a few years ago.
2016 was Ryan’s year. He won the league’s MVP, Offensive Player of the Year, was a First Team All-Pro, and went to the Super Bowl. 2017 was a letdown in comparison, but Ryan is only 33 and will have the opportunity to bounce back and return to MVP form.
Drew Brees QB
Brees has gone to the Pro Bowl 11 times, won the Offensive Player of the Year award twice, and delivered New Orleans its’ only Super Bowl victory. He’s led the league in passing yards seven times and passing touchdowns four times. In nine instances a player has thrown for over 5,000 yards in a single season, Brees has done it five of those nine times. He’s 3rd all-time in passing yards, 3rd in passing touchdowns, and 2nd in pass completions.
Thomas and Lattimore are exciting young players who are quickly rising to become some of the best at their positions. Both have been to one Pro Bowl and Lattimore won the Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 2017. Defensive end Cameron Jordan can’t be overlooked. He was a Defensive Player of the Year candidate in 2017 and has 59.5 career sacks.
Julius Peppers DE
He’s 4th all-time in sacks and has accumulated quite a résumé. He’s been to nine Pro Bowls and has made three First Team and Second Team All-Pro squads. He has been in the NFL for 16 years, but still recorded eleven sacks last season at the age of 37. In 15 of his 16 seasons, Peppers has recorded at least seven sacks.
Kuechly won the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2013, has been to five Pro Bowls, and is a four time First Team All-Pro. He’s still only 27 years old. Newton was the league MVP in 2015 and got the Panthers to the Super Bowl. He’s also one of the greatest running quarterbacks of all-time. Greg Olsen was never himself in 2017 because of injuries, but before that he had three straight 1,000 yard receiving seasons. With just over 7,500 career receiving yards and three Pro Bowls, he’s a great all-time tight end.
Gerald McCoy DT
McCoy has been to the last six Pro Bowls and was a First Team All-Pro in 2013. He is the heart of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense and has 48.5 sacks in his eight NFL seasons. McCoy has also twice been chosen to be a Second Team All-Pro.
Evans is arguably a top five receiver in the NFL right now, he’s just suffered from being in a mediocre offense. At 6-5, 231 lbs, few teams are equipped to cover him. It’s also worth noting that cornerback Brent Grimes has been to four Pro Bowls and linebacker Lavonte David has been criminally snubbed from the Pro Bowl most years. He deserved recognition for how great he is. In six seasons he has 765 combines tackles.
Aaron Rodgers QB
He may already be a top ten quarterback of all-time, despite just ten years in the NFL as a starter, two of which he missed significant time in because of injuries. Rodgers has gone to six Pro Bowls and is a two time First Team All-Pro. He also led the Packers to a Super Bowl victory and has won two MVPs. But most impressively, he managed to replace Brett Favre almost seamlessly.
Matthews has been to six Pro Bowls and was a First Team All-Pro in 2010, but he hasn’t won anything in the last two years which were arguably the worst of his career. His transition to an inside position on defense has really hurt his Hall of Fame chances. Graham has been to five Pro Bowls and was a First Team All-Pro in 2013. He has five seasons with 850 receiving yards or more and four with at least ten touchdowns. Both need several big years to stabilize their Hall of Fame résumés.
Harrison Smith S
Smith is already 29, despite being in the league just six years. He’s been to the last three Pro Bowls and was a First Team All-Pro this year. He makes incredibly instinctive and timely plays for the Vikings but isn’t afraid to shy away from the dirty work. He is always putting up impressive numbers of tackles. He has 17 interceptions, nine sacks, and close to 500 tackles in his career.
Griffin has been to the last three Pro Bowls and has 43.5 sacks in the last four years. He set his personal bests for sacks and forced fumbles in 2017. Rhodes has become one of the best cornerbacks in the league. As proof, he was a First Team All-Pro in 2017 and made his second Pro Bowl. He has seven interceptions in the last two years.
Matthew Stafford QB
He’s only been to one Pro Bowl in his career, but Stafford always puts up big numbers. In 2011 he threw for over 5,000 yards and since then has not thrown for fewer than 4,200 yards in a season. In 2016 he led the Lions to eight fourth quarter comebacks.
Slay was taken in the same draft as Rhodes and has also broken through as a star player a couple of years into his career. In 2017 he made his first Pro Bowl and was a First Team All-Pro because of his eight interceptions.
Jordan Howard RB
Howard made the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2016 but was snubbed in 2017 and missed the Pro Bowl, despite his impressive numbers. In his first two years Howard has 2,435 rushing yards and 423 receiving yards. It can be hard to predict how well running backs will do in the future, because their bodies take such poundings, but Howard is off to a good start.
Long opened his career with three straight Pro Bowls but has suffered from injuries recently. He has played in just 18 games over the last two seasons. He doesn’t really have a good chance to make the Hall of Fame because 2018 will already be his age 30 season. Second year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is getting a lot of hype, we’ll see if he lives up to it.
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