As the excitement of the announcement of the Class of 2012 has subsided, and we’re getting ready to welcome potential members of the Hall of Fame Class of 2030 (give or take) into the league, it’s time to once again start to lay out our projections for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2013.

First, a real quick recap of the non-senior committee 2012 finalists:

Inducted Into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2012:

Dermontti Dawson
Chris Doleman
Cortez Kennedy
Curtis Martin
Willie Roaf

Final five candidates not inducted:
Bill Parcells
Cris Carter
Charles Haley
Andre Reed
Aeneas Williams

Rest of the Final 15 not included:
Jerome Bettis
Tim Brown
Edward DeBartolo Jr.
Kevin Greene
Will Shields

In your average year, we make the assumption that any of the finalists that are eligible to return will make the finalists list again the following year. However, there are a few candidates in 2013 that may not, for various reasons:

Bill Parcells – Normally there is no way one of the top 10 guys fall off the list, unless they reach the senior candidate stage. But normally these guys aren’t flirting with resuming their careers either. Parcells is reportedly the top choice of Sean Payton to replace him during his one year suspension, which would kick Parcells back off the list. Just the rumors that Parcells might take the job alone might force him down, even if he doesn’t end up taking the job.

Edward DeBartolo Jr. – Depending on who you ask, DeBartolo is a fringe candidate for the Hall at best, especially given the circumstances around his departure from the league. With a strong class coming in, he might struggle to make the top 15 again.

Kevin Greene – Greene is a player that a lot of people have mentioned in the years we’ve been doing Hall of Fame predictions, but strictly from the eye-test, he’s always felt like a fringe player to us. Then again, frankly Richard Dent, John Randle, Cortez Kennedy and Chris Doleman would have been in that same category, and all four of them have been chosen. But if the class is strong enough, Greene might face some difficulties.

As mentioned above, the list of players eligible for the first time in 2013 is relatively strong—although that might end up working against some of them, as they possibly could split votes since many played similar positions.

The list is headed by:

Guard/Tackle Larry Allen – 11 Pro Bowls, six first-team All-Pro selections, All-Decade 90’s & 00’s
Tackle Jonathan Ogden – 11 Pro Bowls, four first-team All-Pro selections, All-Decade 00’s
Defensive Tackle Warren Sapp – seven Pro Bowls, four first-team All-Pro selections, All-Decade 90’s & 00’s
Defensive End Michael Strahan – seven Pro Bowls, four first-team All-Pro selections, All-Decade 00’s

Also on the list:
Defensive Lineman Bryant Young
Safety John Lynch
Running Back Priest Holmes
Quarterback Steve McNair
Kicker Morten Andersen

Any of the first list could arguably be first year inductions, and almost assuredly will be finalists. The second set will have a more difficult time, but still could easily make the final 25. A couple might sneak into the final 15.

Finally, we’ve got to look at the list of 11 (due to a tie) semifinalists that didn’t make it last year:

Steve Atwater
Don Coryell
Roger Craig
Terrell Davis
Clay Matthews
Karl Mecklenburg
Donnie Shell
Paul Tagliabue
Steve Tasker
Ron Wolf
George Young

Not a terribly strong list of semifinalists, with a special teamer, a couple of good but not great linebackers that were in the running for the first time last year and a few contributors that don’t strike us as likely inductees in the near term. So, our list of predicted 2013 Pro Football Hall of Fame Finalists:

Larry Allen
Morten Andersen
Jerome Bettis
Tim Brown
Cris Carter
Kevin Greene
Charles Haley
John Lynch
Jonathan Ogden
Andre Reed
Warren Sapp
Will Shields
Michael Strahan
Aeneas Williams
Ron Wolf

That gives us five first time finalists and only one contributor on the list. And plenty of questions:

  • Will the voters finally start to clear up the waiting list at WR with Brown, Carter and Reed, and Marvin Harrison coming into the picture next year?
  • With three strong offensive linemen on the list, and Walter Jones breathing down their neck in 2014 (not to mention Kevin Mawae, Chris Samuels and Orlando Pace joining the list the couple years after), do one or two make it, or do their votes cancel each other out and create another log jam?
  • Similar scenario with defensive linemen, where Haley, Sapp and Strahan could be competing for votes?

This year, we’ve decided to make separate picks here at Zoneblitz, and will finally officially make a contest where readers can submit their picks.

Our 2013 Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductees:

Andy Tony
Larry Allen Cris Carter
Jonathan Ogden Andre Reed
Charles Haley Larry Allen
Cris Carter Aeneas Williams
John Lynch Charles Haley

Andy: It’d be unusual for multiple offensive linemen to get elected. But it happened in 2011 with two great candidates and I think in 2012 the nominees are too good to ignore. Will Shields deserves to get in but he will have to wait one more season, as the profiles of Allen and Ogden are both slightly more impressive, especially if using Super Bowl rings as a tiebreaker (I’m also hoping to see former Packers guard Jerry Kramer get another shot at the Hall as a senior candidate, which might make it that much more difficult for Shields to get in this year).

Charles Haley was a weird and possibly troubled dude while playing in the NFL, if you believe what you read. And his profile, at five Pro Bowls and two first place All Pro lists, is less than I would have expected. But you can’t argue with results. He helped San Francisco get to Super Bowls. And then when he went to Dallas, the Cowboys went to Super Bowls. Haley is a hall of famer.

I do believe the Hall of Fame voters will feel the pressure of rising criticism toward their inability to get at least one of the wide receivers into the Hall. Reed seems to have the lead in terms of support. It’s my belief that Brown has a slight edge in deserving to be enshrined first, though I think he probably ultimately will be the last of the three. I’m guessing voters ultimately move toward Carter with the other two following in the next few years. If the voters fail at this again, then I think a spot opens for Jerome Bettis to join the class of 2013. As it is, I see him waiting one more year.

The fifth spot was tough. I think Shields is the most deserving, but that would buck two trends: Too much of a slant toward offensive players and too many offensive linemen. So unfortunately he waits one more year. I’ll go with John Lynch being the surprise enshrinee. He went to nine Pro Bowls. He only has two All Pro selections. But he helped a once-embarrassing Tampa Bay franchise make the Super Bowl. And he’s part of an era where safeties gained tremendously in prominence. I think we’ll see this position honored more and more as guys like Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu hang ’em up.

Tony: I was all over the board this year with my choices. At one point or another I’ve had Bettis, Brown, Ogden, and Shields all making it—and I think all are going to get there. In fact, Shields probably deserved it last year, although I think if Randall McDaniel had to wait until year three, all guards should have to wait. Ogden could also easily claim a first year entry, but in the end I don’t see the non-glamor positions getting more than one guy in two years in a row. I was tempted to go really crazy and put all three wide receivers in one class—I do think that the criticism over not putting in any last year reached a new level, and at least some voters will feel obligated to “correct” this.

In the end, I left Bettis and Brown off because they didn’t make the final 10 this past year. In fact, this may be overall one of the safest sets of picks out there, with four of the five picks being from the final 10 in the 2012 class (with Parcells being the odd one out. We left him off our finalist list, assuming he will not be eligible).

So who are your picks? Let us know in the comments below.