Friday, August 19, 2022

Every NFL team’s most likely future Hall of Famer: Tom Brady, Aaron Donald among ‘locks’, T.J. Watt closing in

There is no official criteria when determining who is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That being said, based on who has and who hasn’t been enshrined over the past 50 years, it’s safe to say that there are certain things the voters look at when determining who should get a bronze bust and a gold jacket. 

Using my interpretation of some of the unspoken criteria used when determining who gets into the Hall of Fame, I came up with a list of each NFL team‘s current player who has the best shot at being enshrined in Canton once their career is over. Here was the criteria used when selecting the most likely players on each NFL team that could be considered a “lock” if their careers ended today. 

  • Career statistics 

  • Career accolades 
  • Team/individual success 

Did your team’s best player make the cut? Let’s find out. 

Arizona Cardinals: J.J. Watt, DE

Current Hall of Fame “lock”: Yes 

  • Watt’s three DPOY is all you need to say 

While it’s been four years since his last big season, Watt’s chances at being a first-ballot Hall of Famer is still strong. Watt crossed the 100-sack barrier in 2020, his final season with the Texans. He’s led the NFL in sacks twice that includes his career-high 20.5-sack campaign in 2012. 

Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Pitts, TE 

Current Hall of Fame “lock”?  No 

  • Pitts’ career is off to a strong start  

With Matt Ryan in Indy, this spot goes to the Falcons’ rookie tight end. Pitts, who last year became the highest-drafted tight end in NFL history, caught 68 passes for 1,026 yards during his rookie season. He’ll surely look to get in the end zone more in 2022 after catching just one touchdown last year. 

Baltimore Ravens: Justin Tucker, K

Current Hall of Fame “lock”? No, but close

  • Tucker has made 91% of his career field goal attempts 

Lamar Jackson, a former league MVP, is also putting together a career that may one day be worthy of enshrinement. But this spot currently belongs to Tucker, a three-time All-Pro who is only getting better with age. Last fall, Tucker booted a 66-yard field goal while making a league-high 94.6% of his FG attempts. 

Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen, QB 

Current Hall of Fame “lock”? No

  •  A Super Bowl win would go a long way for Allen’s HOF case 

Allen’s stock has risen considerably since his second season. Over the past two years, Allen has thrown 73 touchdowns while running for 14 more scores. His play has helped the Bills become one of the AFC’s premier teams. 

Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey, RB

Current Hall of Fame “lock”? No

  • Health is the main question surrounding McCaffrey 

Despite his recent injuries, McCaffrey’s talent and unique skillset still gives him a chance at future enshrinement. An All-Pro in 2019, McCaffrey joined Roger Craig and Marshall Faulk as the only players in NFL history to amass 1,000 rushing and receiving yards in the same season. 

Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow 

Current Hall of Fame “lock”?: No

  • Burrow is just beginning what should be a memorable run in Cincy 

The 2020 No. 1 overall realized his potential last season, when he led the Bengals to the franchise’s third Super Bowl. Burrow also won Comeback Player of the Year while pacing the NFL in completion percentage. 

Chicago Bears: Robert Quinn, LB/DE 

Current Hall of Fame “lock”? No

  • Quinn crossed the 100-sack barrier in 2021

Quinn’s future Hall of Fame odds rose considerably last season. At age 31, Quinn tallied a career-high 18.5 sacks while being named to his first Pro Bowl in seven years. Quinn enters the 2022 season with 101 sacks and 32 forced fumbles. 

Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, DE

Current Hall of Fame “lock”? No

  • Garrett is coming off back-to-back All-Pro seasons 

In 68 regular season games, Garrett has collected 58.5 sacks, 11 forced fumbles and 59 tackles for loss. An All-Pro the past two seasons, Garrett tallied a career-high 16 sacks in 2021. Garrett is just 26, so he has plenty of time to strengthen his Hall of Fame resume. 

Dallas Cowboys: Tyron Smith, LT

Current Hall of Fame “lock”? No 

  • Smith returned to Pro Bowl form in 2021 

One of the Cowboys’ best players this century, Smith was named to his eighth Pro Bowl in 2021. Smith has played an integral role in the success of Cowboys quarterbacks Tony Romo and Dak Prescott. Speaking of Prescott, he is among the list of other Cowboys players who may one day receive Hall of Fame consideration. That list also includes Ezekiel Elliott and Zack Martin

Denver Broncos: Russell Wilson, QB 

Current Hall of Fame “lock”? Yes

  • Miller’s career has had the perfect mix of individual and team success 

The Hall Fame is probably already getting a spot ready for Wilson. More success in Denver will only cement Wilson’s odds at one day picking up a gold jacket and bronze bust. A nine-time Pro Bowler, Wilson’s resume also includes two NFC Championship Game wins as well as a victory in Super Bowl XLVII. 

Detroit Lions: Amani Oruwariye, CB 

Current Hall of Fame “lock”? No

  • Oruwariye needs to build off of his big 2021 season. 

A solid contributor since his arrival in Detroit, Oruwariye broke out in a big way in 2021. He recorded six interceptions last season to go with 11 pass breakups. 

Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers, QB 

Current Hall of Fame “lock”? Yes

  • Rogers is only adding to his Hall of Fame resume at this point 

A Super Bowl champion, Super Bowl MVP and four-time league MVP, Rodgers will one day join his predecessor, Brett Favre, as a first-ballot inductee. At 38, Rodgers is showing no signs of slowing down. He won his second of consecutive MVP awards last season while throwing 37 touchdowns against just four picks. 

Houston Texans: Laremy Tunsil 

Current Hall of Fame “lock”? No

  • Tunsil is hoping to rebound after an injury-plagued season 

Tunsil earned consecutive Pro Bowl nods in 2020-21 while being one of the Texans’ lone bright spots. He’s looking to return to form in 2022 after missing 12 games with an injury. 

Indianapolis Colts: Matt Ryan, QB 

Current Hall of Fame “lock”? Yes 

  • Ryan can add to his future HOF case in Indy 

Darius Leonard and Jonathan Taylor have also put their names on the map of possibly future HOF players. Ryan, the league’s MVP in 2016, is 235 yards from becoming the eighth quarterback with 60,000 career passing yards. He’s 33 touchdowns away from becoming the ninth QB with 400 career touchdown passes. 

Jacksonville Jaguars: Josh Allen, EDGE

Current Hall of Fame “lock”? No 

  • Allen bounced back with a solid 2021 campaign 

After a stellar rookie season, a knee injury hindered Allen for most of the 2020 season. Allen rebounded in 2021 with 7.5 sacks, a pick and a dozen tackles for loss. 

Kansas City Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes, QB 

Current Hall of Fame “lock”? No, but he’s closer than you think 

  • Mahomes is already knocking on Canton’s doors

Mahomes would already have a Hall of Fame case if his career ended today. He’s the first QB in league history to win Super Bowl and league MVP honors before his 25th birthday. Mahomes picked up his fourth Pro Bowl nod last season while helping the Chiefs become the first NFL to host a conference title game for a fourth straight year. 

Las Vegas Raiders: Davante Adams 

Current Hall of Fame “lock”? No

  • How well Adams does without Rodgers may determine his HOF future 

Adams has emerged has arguably the league’s best receiver over the past half-decade. The former Packers’ wideout led the NFL with 18 touchdowns while compiling 73 touchdown catches in eight seasons in Green Bay. Adams will look to regain his chemistry in Las Vegas with Derek Carr, his former college QB. 

Los Angeles Chargers: Joey Bosa, DE

Current Hall of Fame “lock”? No 

  • The talented pass rusher needs more seasons played, production, and accolades 

Like most of the other twenty-somethings on this list, Bosa still needs more time to build up a body of work that’s worthy of Canton. That being said, Bosa did just enough in his first six seasons to give him the nod over receiver Keenan Allen and quarterback Justin Herbert. The 2016 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, Bosa has 58 career sacks, 78 tackles for loss and four Pro Bowl selections heading into the 2022 season. 

Los Angeles Rams: Aaron Donald, DT/DE

Current Hall of Fame “lock?” Yes 

  • Three Defensive Player of the Years should be good enough for Canton

Donald has already done enough to be considered a future Hall of Fame player. His resume includes three Defensive Player of the Year awards, a Defensive Rookie of the Year Award, eight Pro Bowl selections and seven All-Pro nods. Donald cemented his status as one of the NFL’s all-time great players by leading the Rams to a win in Super Bowl LVI. 

Miami Dolphins: Tyreek Hill, WR  

Current Hall of Fame “lock”? No

  • Hill will need to continue to have success in Miami 

Hill was a play-making machine in Kansas City, where he earned six Pro Bowls and three All-Pro nods. His play helped the Chiefs end the franchise’s 50-yard title drought in 2019. Hill’s Hall of Fame trajectory will be impacted by how well he meshes with Dolphins QB Tuo Tagovailoa. 

Minnesota Vikings: Patrick Peterson, CB  

Current Hall of Fame “lock”? No, but extremely close  

  • Another big year wouldn’t hurt Peterson’s case 

Peterson edged out Justin Jefferson and Harrison Smith. Smith has six Pro Bowls to his credit, while Jefferson put up unreal production during his first two seasons. But the nod ultimately went to Peterson, who earned eight Pro Bowl and three All-Pro nods during his time with the Cardinals. He was also a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 2010s.  

New England Patriots: Matthew Slater, WR 

Current Hall of Fame “lock”? No, but this should be up for debate

  • Slater’s HOF future depends on whether other SPE standouts get recognized 

One of the best special teams players in league history, Slater has earned 10 Pro Bowl and two All-Pro nods in 14 years with the Patriots. A member of the Patriots’ last three championship teams, Slater’s future Hall of Fame chances largely determine whether or not Steve Tasker, the Bills’ special teams standout during Buffalo’s championship years, is recognized with a gold jacket and bronze bust.  

New Orleans Saints: Cam Jordan, DE 

Current Hall of Fame “lock”? No

  • Jordan can help his cause with continued success into his mid-30s 

Alvin Kamara was certainly considered. But given his position (running backs tend to have shorter careers) and where he is in his career, Kamara was passed over in favor of Jordan, a seven-time Pro Bowler who enters the ’22 season with 107 career sacks. The 33-year-old Jordan continues to play at a high level, as he had 12.5 sacks in 2021. 

New York Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB 

Current Hall of Fame “lock”? No 

  • Injuries have temporarily hurt Barkley’s trajectory 

Barkley is looking to rebound after two injury-marred seasons. During his first two seasons, Barkley rushed for 2,310 yards and 17 touchdowns while amassing 1,159 receiving yards and six touchdown receptions. Barkley is hoping to rebound in 2022 while being part of what should be an improved Giants’ offense. 

New York Jets: C.J. Mosley, LB 

Current Hall of Fame “lock”? No

  • Mosley has enjoyed a career rebirth in the Big Apple 

A four-time Pro Bowler in Baltimore, Mosley returned to form last year after missing most of the previous two seasons. He racked up 169 tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles in 2021, his first season under head coach Robert Saleh. 

Philadelphia Eagles: Fletcher Cox, DT 

Current Hall of Fame “lock”? No 

  • Cox has a solid mix of individual accolades and team success

Six Pro Bowls, an All-Pros, a Super Bowl win, and being a member of the NFL’s All-2010s Team should be enough to get Cox a gold jacket and a bronze bust. A few more productive seasons may push Cox’s Hall of Fame chances over the top. Another deep playoff run by the Birds wouldn’t hurt, either.   

Pittsburgh Steelers: T.J. Watt, OLB

Current Hall of Fame “lock”? No, but getting close 

  • Watt’s career is off to an historic start 

Cameron Heyward has also put together a career worthy of Hall of Fame consideration. But the nod here went to Watt, the NFL’s sack king each of the last two seasons. Last season, Watt matched Michael Strahan’s 21-year-old NFL record for sacks in a season with 22. Last year’s DPOY, Watt has 72 career sacks in 77 games. He also has 22 forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries. 

San Francisco 49ers: Trent Williams, LT 

Current Hall of Fame “lock”? Yes

  • Williams is a surefire HOF lock 

Madden’s first 99-rated lineman, Williams picked up his ninth consecutive Pro Bowl nod and first All-Pro selection in 2021. Williams recently came in at No. 8 on CBS Sports Senior Writer Pete Prisco’s list of the NFL’s top-100 players

Seattle Seahawks: DK Metcalf, WR 

Current Hall of Fame “lock”? Yes

  • Seattle’s QB situation is critical for Metcalf’s HOF future 

Metcalf has used his size and speed to quickly become one of the NFL’s top wideouts. He caught 216 passes for 3,170 yards and 29 touchdowns during his first three years in Seattle. How well he gels with Geno Smith will help determine whether Metcalf’s HOF odds will rise or fall in the coming years. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tom Brady, QB 

Current Hall of Fame “lock”? Yes 

  • Seven rings, five Super Bowl and three league MVPs says it all 

I almost wrote “Yes” seven times to pay homage to Brady’s Super Bowl wins as well as to drive the point home that, yes, Brady will be enshrined in Canton as soon as he is eligible. A seven-time Super Bowl champion, five-time Super Bowl MVP and three-time league MVP, Brady is only adding to his legacy in Tampa Bay. He led the NFL with 5,316 yards and 43 touchdowns last season at age 44

Tennessee Titans: Derrick Henry, RB 

Current Hall of Fame “lock”? No, but he’s on his way 

  • Henry will need at least 3-4 more seasons at his current pace 

After a somewhat stow start, Henry’s career has exploded over the past two years. Henry won his first of two consecutive rushing titles in 2019 while carrying Tennessee to an AFC title game appearance. In 2020, Henry became the eighth player in history to rush for over 2,000 yards in a season. Henry was off to a torrid stats last year before in injury wiped out the second half of his season. 

Washington Commanders: Terry McLaurin, WR 

Current Hall of Fame “lock”? No 

  • McLaurin needs more love from his peers moving forward 

The owner of a shiny new contract, McLaurin has been one of the league’s most consistent and productive receivers since coming into the NFL in 2019. He’s still in search of his first Pro Bowl nod after being a notable snub each of the past two seasons. 

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