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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Predicting future Pro Football Hall of Fame players on NFC North teams

Predicting future Pro Football Hall of Fame players on NFC North teams

Hall of Famers in the NFC North
Publish Date: 10/05/2020
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster

The NFC North is a historic division, but it only boats three surefire future Hall of Fame players. The North produces over a dozen Pro Bowlers each year, but the Pro Football Hall of Fame only opens its doors to legends. In that area, the North lags behind the ultra-talented AFC West, which we covered last week.

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.

Five players from the North recorded over a 50% chance to make the Hall of Fame. However, only three climbed over 60%. This is a top-heavy division where the perennial award-winners dominate a lower group of off-and-on Pro Bowlers.

Chicago Bears

Khalil Mack OLB – 75% YES

Mack feels like a lock to make the Hall of Fame. Through six complete seasons, he has five Pro Bowls, three First-Team All-Pro selections, a Defensive Player of the Year award, 61.5 sacks, and a spot on the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 2010s All-Decade Team. However, the 29-year-old is still short of the career sack totals most Hall of Famers accumulate. Mack also showed cracks in his armor last year, recording his fewest sacks since his rookie season.

Overall, Mack should finish his career in Canton, Ohio, but he needs three more dominant years before entering 90% territory.

Jimmy Graham TE – 53% NO

Nowadays, a 50-yard performance is a good outing for Graham. However, the five-time Pro Bowler averaged over 50 yards per game in six consecutive seasons during his prime. Graham hasn’t made a Pro Bowl since 2017, and his last All-Pro selection came in 2013. The former Saint is fourth all-time in receiving touchdowns by a tight end, trailing Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez, and Rob Gronkowski.

Robert Quinn OLB/DE – 38% NO

Quinn peaked early in his career, amassing 40 sacks between 2012 and 2014. Unfortunately, injuries torpedoed the former First-Team All-Pro’s prime. From 2015 through 2018, Quinn only totaled 24 sacks. However, he came back to life last season, recording 11.5 sacks with the Dallas Cowboys. In his first nine seasons, Quinn tallied 80.5 sacks.

Eddie Jackson FS – 30% NO

In his first two seasons, Jackson scored five defensive touchdowns and received a First-Team All-Pro selection. While Jackson made his second Pro Bowl last year, the former fourth-round pick struggled. His career got off to a hot start, but Jackson hasn’t sustained his All-Pro playing level.

Kyle Fuller CB – 25% NO

Fuller led the NFL with seven interceptions and 21 passes defensed in 2018. He earned a First-Team All-Pro selection that season and made the Pro Bowl in 2019. Two years of high-level production aren’t enough to make the 28-year-old a serious candidate for Canton.

Detroit Lions

Adrian Peterson RB – 100% YES

Peterson could’ve retired after his 2012 MVP season and still made the Hall of Fame. The 35-year-old has seven Pro Bowl appearances, four First-Team All-Pro nods, three rushing titles, and a spot on the 2010s All-Decade Team. Peterson ranks fifth in career rushing yards (14,425) and fourth in rushing touchdowns (111).

Matthew Stafford QB – 27% NO

Stafford won’t make the Hall of Fame, but he’s put together a nice career. The 2011 Comeback Player of the Year averaged over 5,000 passing yards per game between the 2011 and 2012 seasons. He’s already 18th all-time in passing yards, but Stafford doesn’t have the accolades or wins to compete with real Hall of Fame candidates.

Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers QB – 100% YES

The two-time MVP and former Super Bowl champion has one of the best résumés of any player in the NFL. A 2010s All-Decade Team member, Rodgers is the career leader in touchdown to interception ratio, throwing over four touchdowns for every interception. While he’s already an all-time great, Rodgers could cement his legacy as a top-five quarterback with another Super Bowl title.

David Bakhtiari LT – 38% NO

Bakhtiari isn’t in the same class as Jason Peters or Joe Thomas, but he’s consistently performed at an All-Pro level. The 29-year-old has one First-Team All-Pro selection and three Second-Team All-Pro nods. Bakhtiari still has a chance of making the Hall of Fame, but it could take another five or six seasons of strong play.

Davante Adams WR – 25% NO

During his first six seasons, Adams amassed 5,194 yards and 44 touchdowns. He’s arguably a top-five wide receiver in the NFL, but injuries continue preventing the 27-year-old from making an All-Pro team. Adams should finish his career with decent numbers, but he won’t break into the truly elite class of receivers.

Za’Darius Smith OLB – 12% NO

Smith made the first Pro Bowl of his career in 2019, racking up 13.5 sacks and 37 quarterback hits. With only 34 career sacks, the 28-year-old isn’t a Hall of Fame candidate. However, he could become one of the NFL’s best pass-rushers over the next three or four years.

Minnesota Vikings

Harrison Smith FS/SS – 56% NO

Smith does everything for the Vikings. He can play man, zone, blitz, tackle, disguise his coverage, and make clutch plays. The Eric Weddle of his era, Smith doesn’t have the career accolades to make the Hall of Fame. The media overlooked him for All-Pro selections in 2014 and 2015, leaving the Notre Dame product with holes on his résumé.

Danielle Hunter DE – 32% MAYBE

Pass-rushers have one of the easiest paths to the Hall of Fame, but Hunter needs to pick up the pace. The two-time Pro Bowler recorded 54.5 sacks in his first five years, but he hasn’t played a snap this season. At 25 years old, Hunter has plenty of time to establish himself as a top-five pass-rusher.

Anthony Barr OLB – 32% NO

After his rookie season, Barr made four consecutive Pro Bowls. However, he was never an All-Pro, and the 4-3 outside linebacker plays one of the worst positions when it comes to Hall of Fame evaluation. Barr tore a pectoral muscle this year and will miss the rest of Minnesota’s season.

Adam Thielen WR – 20% NO

Thielen made Pro Bowls in 2017 and 2018, racking up 204 receptions, 2,649 yards, and 13 touchdowns during that time. Injuries have slowed down the former undrafted free agent since then, but he did earn a Second-Team All-Pro selection in 2017.

Dalvin Cook RB – 15% NO

After two disappointing seasons, Cook broke out last year. He totaled 1,654 yards from scrimmage and 13 rushing touchdowns on his way to the Pro Bowl. The 25-year-old could put himself in the Hall of Fame conversation with another decade of elite play.

Anthony Harris FS/SS- 12% NO

Harris didn’t receive an All-Pro selection from the Associated Press last year, but Pro Football Focus rewarded him with a First-Team All-Pro spot. The former undrafted free agent tied for the league-lead with six interceptions.

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