With Morten Andersen, Terrell Davis, Jason Taylor, LaDainian Tomlinson, Kurt Warner, Kenny Easley and Jerry Jones set to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame tonight, figured we were just a bit overdue for our annual Hall of Fame prediction for next year.
Of course, we start with the finalists that didn’t make the cut in 2017.
The final five cut:
Tony Boselli, T, Jacksonville Jaguars
Brian Dawkins, S, Philadelphia Eagles/Denver Broncos
John Lynch, S, Tampa Bay Buccaneers/Denver Broncos
Ty Law, CB, New England Patriots/New York Jets/Kansas City/Denver Broncos
Kevin Mawae, C, Seattle Seahawks/New York Jets/Tennessee Titans
Our take: No reason these five won’t be finalists again in 2018.
The first five finalists eliminated:
Isaac Bruce, WR, LA/St. Louis Rams, San Francisco 49ers
Don Coryell, Coach, San Diego Chargers
Alan Faneca, G, Pittsburgh Steelers/New York Jets/Arizona Cardinals
Joe Jacoby, T, Washington Redskins
Terrell Owens, WR, San Francisco 49ers/Philadelphia Eagles/Dallas Cowboys/Buffalo Bills/Cincinnati Bengals
Tony’s take: Although interest in Coryell seems to ebb and flow, he has been a finalist for three straight years (4 overall), so it would seem unlikely that he will drop. It took Joe Jacoby years to make the finalist list, but after being a semifinalist seven times, he’s finally been a finalist the last two years. He faces his final year as a modern-era candidate, so he’s unlikely to drop.
Faneca and Owens have each made the finalist list twice, and although Owens’ attitude after last year’s “snub” could turn some more voters off, it’s unlikely to cost him his spot as a finalist. Isaac Bruce was a finalist for the first time last year—if anyone were to drop from the list this year, it’s likely him—but we don’t see that happening.
Andy’s take: I don’t agree on several of these. Bruce, to me, is not even the most worthy WR off the Greatest Show on Turf. Torry Holt, who dropped out as a semifinalist last year, deserves it more. I’ll predict voters realize the error of their ways and replace Bruce with Holt.
I also think, right or wrong, that Coryell will start to fade from view a bit. I still believe Jimmy Johnson should have been inducted before Tony Dungy and I’ll suggest the former Cowboys coach will knock Coryell from the final 15. It may be an argument for later, but I think coaches need to be considered with contributors or as their own separate category. There are a number of head guys and assistants who would be solid, legitimate Hall candidates who will never get noticed under the current system.
I also think there are others who could get bumped from this list, as there is a solid group of first-time eligible players coming up this year too. Jacoby jumps out at me. I think there’s a good chance it’s going to be up to the senior committee to ultimately determine his fate.
There were actually 11 additional names cut between the Semifinalist and Finalist stage:
Steve Atwater, S, Denver Broncos/New York Jets (finalist in 2016)
Roger Craig, RB, San Francisco 49ers/Los Angeles Raiders/Minnesota Vikings
Chris Hinton, T/G, Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts/Atlanta Falcons/Minnesota Vikings
Torry Holt, WR, St. Louis Rams/Jacksonville Jaguars
Edgerrin James, RB, Indianapolis Colts/Arizona Cardinals/Seattle Seahawks (finalist in 2016)
Jimmy Johnson, Coach, Dallas Cowboys/Miami Dolphins
Mike Kenn, T, Atlanta Falcons
Clay Matthews, LB, Cleveland Browns/Atlanta Falcons
Karl Mecklenburg, LB, Denver Broncos
Hines Ward, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Darren Woodson, S, Dallas Cowboys
Tony’s Take: Despite what I’m guessing Steelers fans will say about Hines Ward, I personally see Holt, James and possibly Atwater as the most likely to ascend to the finalist stage — possibly with Jimmy Johnson as a wildcard, although in recent years I’ve backed off on my opinion of his worthiness to the Hall.
The bigger issue that many in this list face are some of the first-time eligible players coming into the list:
Ray Lewis, LB, Baltimore Ravens – Basically a sure thing finalist, and by far the best bet to make it all the way to Canton in his first year. In fact, probably higher on the list than any of last year’s finalists.
Randy Moss, WR, Minnesota Vikings/Oakland Raiders/New England Patriots/Tennessee Titans/San Francisco 49ers – Likely a lock to make the finalist list, but not as sure of a lock to make the Hall in his first as many make him out to be. His attitude, combined with the uphill battle that many WR face in being elected may leave him on the outside for a few years, just like Owens.
Brian Urlacher, LB, Chicago Bears – I’m on the record repeatedly as saying that Urlacher was overrated, as he seemed to disappear when he didn’t have great defensive tackles clearing the path for him. That being said, he had a great career, and is likely to make the finalist cut at a minimum.
Ronde Barber, CB/S, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Along with Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks (already both in Canton) and Lynch, Barber was part of the nucleus that brought a Lombardi Trophy to Tampa. Not sure it’s enough in year one, but his numbers will almost assuredly get him there someday—along with his brother Tiki (of course, Tiki will have to buy a ticket).
Steve Hutchinson, G, Seattle Seahawks/Minnesota Vikings – Hutch will not make the Hall of Fame this year, as there are several other Offensive Lineman ahead of him on the list, and interior lineman struggle in their first couple of years, possibly due to the anonymity of their job (heck, Hutchinson’s write up on the Hall of Fame site isn’t even accurate). He should crack the semi-finalist list, and might sneak into the finalist list, although it wouldn’t be a travesty if he had to wait a couple of years—even Randall McDaniel had to wait.
Richard Seymour, DL, New England Patriots/Oakland Raiders – Not likely to make the finalist list, but another solid semi-finalist that will likely start to make a push in a few years.
Other first-year eligible: Matt Birk, Keith Brooking, Plaxico Burress, Nate Clements, Leonard Davis, Donald Driver, Casey Hampton, Jason Hanson, Jeff Saturday, Takeo Spikes, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Adrian Wilson, Antoine Winfield
Our picks for Finalist:
And our picks for the final five (who, per usual, will all be elected):
Andy’s take: Lewis is a no-brainer and Owens has probably served his time. Mawae was clearly the best center of his era. I’d be fine with Lynch but with the struggles safeties have getting in, I’m going to call it a victory as long as either he or Dawkins gets in. I’ll throw in Alan Faneca and his nine Pro Bowls as my one disagreement with Tony.
I’m sure several of you have left your thoughts on our other posts, but let’s hear it again in the comments–who does everyone have on their Class of 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame List?