US Sports Veteran
Publish Date: 09/28/2020
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster
While the AFC East and South lack future Hall of Fame talent, the AFC West features plenty of current and former All-Pros. The Pro Football Hall of Fame could enshrine as many as seven players from the West. It’s a dominant division that’s only getting better with time.
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.
My projections produced eight players in the AFC West with at least a 40% chance to make the Hall of Fame today. Six players from the West stood out to me as players worthy of gold jackets while one earned a MAYBE designation.
Von Miller OLB – 100% YES
Miller is missing the entire 2020 season, which stings for Denver, but it doesn’t impact the 31-year-old’s status as a future Hall of Famer. In nine seasons, Miller amassed 106 sacks, eight Pro Bowls, a Super Bowl MVP, and a place on the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 2010s All-Decade Team.
Casey has a five-year running streak of Pro Bowls that could come to an end this year. Casey was a Second-Team All-Pro in 2013, but he hasn’t earned an All-Pro selection since then. The 30-year-old defensive tackle played commendably during his first nine seasons, but he’s never been the league’s top defensive tackle.
The former third-round selection didn’t make the Pro Bowl last year, but he earned a Second-Team All-Pro selection. Simmons has a long way to go before earning serious Hall of Fame consideration, but he’s one of the NFL’s brightest young safeties.
Patrick Mahomes QB – 73% YES
Kurt Warner won two MVPs and a Super Bowl before earning his spot in Canton. If the Chiefs continue playing well, Mahomes could win another MVP and Super Bowl before turning 26. Mahomes still has room for improvement, but he’s on pace for a first-ballot Hall of Fame career.
Since 2016, Kelce has been the league’s best receiving tight end. He’s earned First or Second Team All-Pro selections in each of the past four years and is the first tight end in league history with four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. Two or three more dominant seasons should put Kelce over the top.
Mathieu’s career is difficult to evaluate. He almost won the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2015, but injuries momentarily derailed his career. Mathieu captained Kansas City’s Super Bowl-winning defense last year and earned his second First-Team All-Pro nod. The Honey Badger also found himself on the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 2010s All-Decade Team.
Schwartz deserves more Hall of Fame attention, even if his career falls short of Canton. The 31-year-old hasn’t made a Pro Bowl appearance, but Schwartz has four consecutive seasons with a First or Second-Team All-Pro selection. He’s arguably the NFL’s best offensive tackle.
It’s incredibly hard for wide receivers to distinguish themselves in the modern NFL. Hill made the All-Decade team as a punt returner, and one of his two First-Team All-Pro nods came as a return man. However, the speedster is still roughly 8,000 receiving yards away from making a Hall of Fame case.
The NFL loves pass-rushers, and Jones fits the profile of a player capable of capitalizing on that favoritism. While Aaron Donald is a better defensive tackle sack artist, Jones is right behind him. Jones only has one Pro Bowl and one Second-Team All-Pro selection during his career, but four dominant seasons could throw him into the center of a Hall of Fame discussion.
In his first five seasons, Clark tallied 43 sacks. He battled injuries last year, which hampered his production. However, Clark should emerge as a perennial Pro Bowler in Kansas City.
Jason Witten TE – 99% YES
There’s some debate over whether Witten is a Hall of Fame-caliber player. Witten is fourth all-time in receptions and 19th in receiving yards. He has four total All-Pro selections and 11 Pro Bowl appearances. Tony Gonzalez is the only tight end with more Pro Bowl selections. As for the All-Pro nods, Witten has as many as Dave Casper, Rob Gronkowski, and Kellen Winslow. I don’t have Witten at 100%, but you can make an argument he deserves it.
Remember when Carr was an MVP candidate? The Raiders failed their franchise quarterback in recent years, not surrounding him with enough weapons. However, Carr still has decent numbers and three Pro Bowl selections.
Hudson also has three Pro Bowl appearances. The 31-year-old former second-round pick was a Second-Team All-Pro last season. He’s one of the NFL’s most underrated players.
Chris Harris CB – 42% NO
Once an elite cornerback, Harris made four Pro Bowl appearances and earned a First-Team All-Pro selection with the Denver Broncos. He and Aqib Talib formed the No Fly Zone during Denver’s most recent Super Bowl run, which helped Harris make the All-Decade team. Unfortunately, the former All-Pro didn’t sustain his level of play long enough to fall in the same category as Patrick Peterson or Richard Sherman.
Allen made each of the past three Pro Bowls, but he doesn’t have a First-Team All-Pro appearance. Statistically, Allen needs to double his career stats before even entering the Hall of Fame conversation.
Along with his younger brother and Myles Garrett, Bosa has the potential to be one of this generation’s best pass-rushers. Bosa tallied 40 sacks through his first four seasons along with two Pro Bowl selections. The 25-year-old needs another decade of stellar play to reach Canton, but the path is clear for a legendary career.
At Hayward’s peak, he played at a Hall of Fame level. Unfortunately, the former Green Bay Packer doesn’t have many accolades to show for his stellar play. Two Pro Bowls and two Second-Team All-Pro selections keep him out of the Canton discussion.
The former Carolina Panther made each of the past five Pro Bowls, but advanced analytics show he isn’t a dominant player. That’s why the 27-year-old hasn’t received an All-Pro nod.
Losing James for the season was catastrophic for the Chargers, considering that he’s the league’s best safety when healthy. If James shakes his injury bug next year, the Florida St. product can get his All-Pro career back on track.
Pouncey is also missing the 2020 season. The former first-round pick needs season-ending hip surgery, which continues Los Angeles’ trend of featuring a battered offensive line. Pouncey has four Pro Bowls to his name.
Ingram made each of the past three Pro Bowls, but he only has two ten-sack seasons. In his first eight years, Ingram produced 49 sacks, which is far below a Hall of Fame trajectory.
Joseph made two Pro Bowls during his time with the Minnesota Vikings. The 31-year-old is past his prime but still brings some punch to Los Angeles’ interior defensive line.