US Sports Veteran
Compared to the ultra-talented NFC West, which we covered last week, the NFC East is a barren wasteland. Except for a few oases of talent, the division lacks Hall of Fame caliber players. Injuries have struck the snake-bitten division in recent seasons, limiting the playing time of some great players. The NFC East is one of the weakest divisions we’ve examined in this series.
Every player with a relevant Hall of Fame case appears under his team. If a player doesn’t appear, he has no case or not enough accolades to register a percentage over ten. The percentages represent accrued achievements. This means a player’s percentage rises over time as he wins awards and accumulates statistics.
Even superstar players who are still on their rookie contracts usually have low percentages. However, that doesn’t mean I think they’ll all miss the Hall of Fame. Next to each percentage is an additional designation that says either YES, NO, or MAYBE. These are my ultimate determinations on whether or not a player will get enshrined in Canton.
Only a few cases received the MAYBE designation. It goes to players who find themselves stuck in a middle ground with good arguments for and against enshrinement. They could go either way but already have a strong foundation to build on.
Keep in mind that the Hall of Fame is highly selective. This process aims only to allow a few elite players in, but I still make some controversial predictions for younger players with tremendous upside.
Six players from the NFC East recorded at least a 50% chance of making the Hall of Fame, which doesn’t sound bad. However, only three of those stars have a legitimate chance of finding a home in Canton, Ohio.
Zack Martin RG – 77% YES
A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 2010s All-Decade Team, Martin is arguably the best guard from the past decade. He’s made the Pro Bowl in each of his six seasons. During that time, he’s also amassed two Second-Team and four First-Team All-Pro selections. With Marshal Yanda retiring last year, Martin has the best résumé among the league’s guards.
Injuries are bringing Smith’s career to an immediate halt. The seven-time Pro Bowler hasn’t played more than 13 games in a season since 2015. His fourth and final All-Pro selection came in 2016. While Smith is a member of the 2010s All-Decade Team, he can’t stand toe-to-toe with all-time greats.
I haven’t learned my lesson from doing this series last year. Entering the 2019 season, I predicted Todd Gurley would finish his career as a Hall of Famer. That claim went South quickly. However, I’m taking the same leap of faith with Elliott. In his first four seasons, the Ohio St. product averaged 96.5 rushing yards per game and totaled 7,024 yards from scrimmage. He still needs four or five more Pro Bowl-caliber seasons to cement his legacy.
The former Viking made four Pro Bowls in the past five years. During his ten seasons in Minnesota, Griffen amassed 74.5 sacks. He won’t receive any attention from the Hall of Fame, but Griffen is still one of the best defensive ends from the past decade.
Cooper is the definition of a low-ranking top-ten receiver. He made four Pro Bowls in his first five seasons but never received attention for an All-Pro bid. At 26 years old, Cooper could easily hit 10,000 receiving yards in a few seasons. However, that’s no longer worth an automatic ticket to Canton.
The Cowboys gave Lawrence a massive contract after the defensive end posted back-to-back ten-sack seasons. However, the former Second-Team All-Pro only recorded five sacks last year. He’s no longer producing at an elite level.
Smith is a Hall of Fame talent, but he struggled with off the field issues as a young man. After posting 14 sacks as a rookie and 19.5 in his second season, Smith faced injuries and suspensions. After last appearing in a game in 2015, Smith is making a comeback this season.
During his prime, Lee was one of the NFL’s best linebackers. However, he’s far from a Hall of Fame player. Lee has two Pro Bowls and a First-Team All-Pro selection to his name, but the former second-round pick could’ve easily had five or six Pro Bowls if he remained healthy.
Vander Esch earned a Second-Team All-Pro selection as a rookie. He possesses tremendous instincts and potential, but the Boise State product can’t overcome injuries early in his career. Vander Esch missed seven games last year and suffered a broken collarbone earlier this season.
Prescott made two Pro Bowls in his first four seasons and was on pace for an NFL record in single-season passing yards before suffering a gruesome ankle compound fracture and dislocation. Hopefully, the 27-year-old recovers well and returns to his starting role next year.
After suffering a devastating injury in college, Smith rebounded in the NFL. He made the Pro Bowl last year, but the 25-year-old is struggling with a weak supporting cast this season. He misses playing alongside Lee and Vander Esch.
Saquon Barkley RB – 15% NO
Barkley’s only elite season came as a rookie, when he led the NFL with 2,028 yards from scrimmage. Injuries limited Barkley in 2019, and the explosive Penn State product tore his ACL in Week 2 this season. If Barkley can stay healthy, he has enough talent to make the Hall of Fame, but talent doesn’t always lead to results.
Jason Peters LT/G – 87% YES
Peters hasn’t made the Pro Bowl since 2016, and he’s sitting on IR right now. However, the long-time left tackle already has a Hall of Fame résumé. In ten years (2007-2016), Peters made nine Pro Bowls and earned two First-Team All-Pro nods. Four Second-Team All-Pro selections round out the 38-year-old’s key accomplishments.
Kelce built his legacy over the past three seasons, earning First-Team All-Pro selections from the Associated Press, Pro Football Focus, and the Pro Football Writers each year. Despite dominating late in the decade, Kelce didn’t receive a spot on the 2010s All-Decade Team.
Unlike Kelce, Cox earned a spot on the All-Decade Team. He’s made five consecutive Pro Bowls and finally received a First-Team All-Pro selection last year. The 29-year-old has four total All-Pro selections, but he doesn’t stack up well to other superstar defensive tackles from the past decade.
After making three consecutive Pro Bowls, Ertz got off to a slow start this season. From 2015 through 2019, Ertz averaged 86 receptions and 914 yards per year. However, the 29-year-old hasn’t made an All-Pro team during that time, despite only trailing Travis Kelce and George Kittle in talent.
Jackson’s return to Philadelphia hasn’t gone as planned. He’s only played six games since returning to the Eagles, which buries any dark horse Hall of Fame candidacy. Jackson has 12,338 all-purpose yards, 10,541 of which came as a receiver.
Johnson is one of the NFL’s best offensive linemen, but he’s battled injuries over the past several years. Johnson hasn’t missed a Pro Bowl since 2016, but his only All-Pro selection came in 2017.
Like Johnson, Slay hasn’t missed a Pro Bowl since 2016, and his only All-Pro bid came in 2017. Slay forced his way out of Detroit to join Philadelphia, but the Mississippi St. product isn’t playing like a top-five cornerback.
Brooks also made each of the past three Pro Bowls, but the star guard tore his Achilles during the offseason. Without any All-Pro selections, Brooks doesn’t have a chance of making the Hall of Fame. He’s already 31 years old.
Wentz came within an injury of winning the regular season MVP in 2017. Unfortunately, the North Dakota St. product couldn’t finish the year, and he’s never approached that elite level of play again. This season isn’t going so well for the 27-year-old franchise quarterback.
Ryan Kerrigan OLB – 48% NO
Kerrigan hasn’t played many snaps this season since Washington continues adding first-round edge rushers, but the 32-year-old can still make an impact. In his first nine seasons, Kerrigan recorded 90 sacks and made four Pro Bowls. The Purdue product became Washington’s all-time leader in sacks earlier this year.
From 2016 through 2018, Collins made three consecutive Pro Bowls with the Giants. He also earned a First-Team All-Pro selection in 2016 and gained traction in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation. However, subsequent years exposed Collins’ woes in pass coverage.
A first-round pick from 2005, Davis is one of the oldest non-quarterbacks in the NFL. Over the years, he’s accumulated three Pro Bowls and a First-Team All-Pro selection. Now with Washington, Davis has 29 sacks, 13 interceptions, and over 1,200 tackles.
Scherff has three Pro Bowl selections with no All-Pro bids. Injuries have limited the former fifth overall pick’s playing time since 2017, and they’ve shown no signs of going away.
Players must be 21 years of age or older or reach the minimum age for gambling in their respective state and located in jurisdictions where online gambling is legal. Please play responsibly. Bet with your head, not over it. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, and wants help, call or visit: (a) the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey at 1-800-Gambler or www.800gambler.org; or (b) Gamblers Anonymous at 855-2-CALL-GA or www.gamblersanonymous.org.
This site is using Cloudflare and adheres to the Google Safe Browsing Program. We adapted Google's Privacy Guidelines to keep your data safe at all times.