NFL Odds: Who’s in the 2018 Hall of Fame Class?

Ray Lewis in his Ravens helmet.

I told you LaDainian Tomlinson would be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a first-ballot selection in 2017! What’s that? You and your non-football-watching mother knew that, too? Ok, how about Terrell Davis? Give me some credit there. Just forget what I set Jason Taylor and Morten Andersen’s odds at.

Joining Taylor, Anderson, and the two great running backs in the 2017 class were Jerry Jones (contributor), Kenny Easley (senior), and Kurt Warner. It was the first time since 2014 that the selection committee only inducted seven members into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (instead of the maximum eight). But as per usual, the five modern-era spots were full. I fully expect this to be the case again looking ahead to 2018, which is a loaded class!

If you’re uncertain on the process, here’s a quick run-down: there are a maximum of five modern-era spots available; the remaining three are for seniors (players whose careers ended more than 25 years ago) and contributors. A minimum of five players must be enshrined each year, with a maximum of eight.

Predicting the seniors and contributors is always a difficult task, but I’ve given it a go. I’ve also listed the odds for which five modern-era players will join them in the 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame class.

(An asterisk next to a name indicates a 2017 finalist.)


2018 Locks

Ray Lewis, LB (First-Ballot): 1/99

Ray Lewis fired-up
By Keith Allison (flickr)

Awards and Accolades:

  • Seven-time First-Team All-Pro
  • 13 Pro Bowls (record for inside linebackers)
  • Pro Football Hall of Fame First Team All-2000s
  • Two-time Defensive Player of the Year
  • Two-time Super Bowl Champion
  • Super Bowl MVP

Why he’s a lock:

Lewis is arguably the best middle linebacker to ever play. He spent 17 years stuffing running backs at the line of scrimmage and showing off his athleticism in coverage (31 interceptions). The longtime Raven was truly everything you wanted out of a middle linebacker, including a phenomenal leader and motivator. During his tenure, the Ravens went 51 consecutive games without allowing a 100-yard rusher. Lewis was also the leader of the 2000 Ravens defense, which only allowed 10.3 points per game in the regular season and is considered one of the most dominant ever.

If there’s one concern for Lewis, it’s the way Terrell Owens has been passed over by the selection committee. The only rational reason for Owens’ snub is his oft-criticized personality. Ray Lewis’ past includes a little more than pissing off quarterbacks and dancing in the endzone.

Randy Moss, WR (First-Ballot): 1/5

Randy Moss warming up.
By Keith Allison (flickr)

Awards and Accolades:

  • Four-time First-Team All-Pro
  • Six Pro Bowls
  • Pro Football Hall of Fame First Team All-2000s
  • Offensive Rookie of the Year
  • Most touchdown receptions in a season (23)
  • Most touchdown receptions by a rookie in a season (17)
  • Third all-time in career receiving yards (15,292)
  • Second all-time in career touchdown receptions (156)
  • Youngest player ever to record 100 receiving TDs

Why he’s a lock:

My fingers got tired of typing. Moss holds so many more NFL records. When he broke into the league in 1998, he was untouchable. It’s hard to say his rookie season wasn’t the greatest of all-time. The outspoken wide receiver continued to dominate the league with his unprecedented athleticism for the next handful of seasons. After a few down-years, two of which were spent in Oakland, Moss rejuvenated his career in New England and set the single-season record for receiving touchdowns in his first year with Tom Brady.

Widely regarded as the second-best receiver of all-time, there is no reason Moss should not get into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. But again, the treatment of Terrell Owens brings some questions, as the two were very similar in their flamboyance.

Favorites for the Rest

Terrell Owens, WR*: 1/2

[Public Domain]
Awards and Accolades:

  • Five-time First-Team All-Pro
  • Six Pro Bowls
  • Pro Football HoF Second-Team All-2000s
  • Second all-time in career receiving yards (15,934)
  • Third all-time in career touchdown receptions (153)
  • Only player to score a touchdown against all 32 NFL teams (he actually scored at least two against all 32 teams)

Why he should get in:

Jerry Rice stands alone atop the wide receiver hierarchy. After him, there are two guys who sit in their own elite tier above the rest. I have one of those men listed as a lock for the 2018 hall of fame, and the other is Terrell Owens. At 37-years-old, Owens was still dominant enough to record 983 receiving yards and nine touchdowns as a Bengal. His mixture of size, speed, and strength were just too much for any defender. Put him in already!

Why he’s not a lock:

Apparently the selection committee wants to make him wait because of his antics on the sidelines and in the endzone. Ridiculous!

Joe Jacoby, OT*: 3/2

Awards and Accolades:

  • Two-time First-Team All-Pro
  • Four Pro Bowls
  • Three-time Super Bowl champion

Why he should get in:

He was the bookend left tackle on one of the greatest offensive lines of all-time in Washington. This is also Jacoby’s last chance to get in as a modern-era player, before being buried in the long list of seniors awaiting enshrinement.

Why he’s not a lock:

Russ Grimm was the most popular member of the “Hogs,” and inducting an offensive lineman isn’t very sexy.

Paul Tagliabue, Commissioner*: 5/3

Awards and Accolades:

  • NFL Commissioner from 1989-2006
  • Led the league to expand from 28 to 32 teams
  • Won the Eagle Award from the US Sports Academy (1992)

Why he should get in:

Among other things, Tagliabue was a driving force for football in Europe. The well-respected commish is also credited for the Saints still being in New Orleans following the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, as Tom Benson wanted to move the team to San Antonio following the disaster.

Why he’s not a lock:

No contributor is ever a lock.

Brian Dawkins, S*: 7/4

By Jeffrey Beall (Wikimedia Commons)

Awards and Accolades:

  • Four-time First-Team All-Pro
  • Nine Pro Bowls
  • Pro Football HoF First-Team All-2000s
  • Member of the 20/20 club (20 interceptions and 20 forced fumbles)
  • Only member of the 30/30 club
  • Only player with 25-plus interceptions (37), forced fumbles (36), and sacks (26)
  • First player to record a sack, an interception, a forced fumble, and a touchdown reception in one game

Why he should get in:

Name me a safety that did more than Dawkins. The only answer I will accept is Ed Reed. The long-time Eagle could do it all. He possessed supreme ball-hawking ability, could play man coverage if needed, delivered punishing hits over the middle, and was dominant against the run. Kenny Easley’s 2017 induction is encouraging for safeties moving forward.

Why he’s not a lock:

There’s a bit of a waiting list right now at the safety position; some see John Lynch as the better defender. Either way, Ed Reed becomes eligible in 2019, so it would be a good idea to get one of them in now.

Jerry Kramer, OL (Senior): 7/3

Awards and Accolades:

  • Five-time First-Team All-Pro
  • Three Pro Bowls
  • Five-time NFL/Super Bowl champion
  • Member of the NFL’s 50th Anniversary Team

Why he should get in:

Every other member of the NFL’s 50th Anniversary Team has a bust in Canton. Not only is this wedge block the most celebrated block of all-time, but Kramer also kicked the game-winning field goal in the 1962 NFL Championship.

Why he’s not a lock:

As was the case with Tagliabue, no senior is ever a lock. There isn’t much transparency involved in the voting procedure.

Outside Shots for 2018

Brian Urlacher, LB (First-Ballot): 4/1

By Jauerback (Wikimedia Commons)

Awards and Accolades:

  • Four-time First-Team All-Pro
  • Eight Pro Bowls
  • Defensive Player of the Year
  • Defensive Rookie of the Year
  • Pro Football HoF First-Team All-2000s

Why he could get in:

Few will dispute that Urlacher belongs in Canton. Just like Ray Lewis, the former Bear was a complete linebacker and consummate leader. Urlacher would meet you in the hole and send you backwards, he displayed supreme intelligence when blitzing, and certainly wasn’t a liability in coverage.

Why he’s not a favorite:

To keep it simple, this is Ray Lewis’ year. Anyone who uses Urlacher’s lack of team success against him needs to have their voting privileges revoked.

Alan Faneca, G*: 9/2

Awards and Accolades:

  • Six-time First-Team All-Pro
  • Nine Pro Bowls
  • Super Bowl champion

Why he could get in:

There are only two players who have more All-Pro selections and are not currently in the Hall of Fame. One is Ray Lewis, who will be a first-ballot inductee in 2018; the other is Peyton Manning, who will also saunter into Canton when eligible. Also, only two guards have more All-Pro selections than Faneca period.

Why he’s not a lock:

Offensive linemen don’t get a ton of love in the voting, and the committee may have a soft spot for Jacoby this year.

John Lynch, S*: 5/1

Awards and Accolades:

  • Three-time First-Team All-Pro
  • Nine Pro Bowls
  • Super Bowl champion
  • A member of both the Bucs and Broncos Rings of Fame

Why he could get in:

When you think of hard-hitting safeties, Lynch is one of the first that comes to mind – as long as you weren’t a victim of one of his brain-rattling shots. Any player with more Pro Bowl selections is either in Canton or ineligible.

Why he’s not a favorite:

Brian Dawkins was the better of the two, and the committee seems to have a hard time putting safeties in; Easley was the first safety inducted since 1998.

Ronde Barber, DB (First-Ballot): 7/1

Ronde Barber leaving the field
By Jeffrey Beall (Wikimedia Commons)

Awards and Accolades:

  • Three-time First-Team All-Pro
  • Five Pro Bowls
  • Super Bowl champion
  • Pro Football HoF Second-Team All-2000s
  • Most consecutive starts by a defensive back (215)
  • Only player with 45-plus career interceptions and 25-plus career sacks
  • Fourth all-time in career non-offensive touchdowns (14)

Why he could get in:

Barber may not have been the best cover corner of his time, but he could slow your best receiver and he played the run extremely well. The 16-year pro was also phenomenal when he got the ball in his hands.

Why he’s not a favorite:

As you can probably tell, this class is loaded. Barber will likely find his way into the Hall of Fame eventually, but I don’t see it being this year.

Ty Law, CB*: 9/1

Awards and Accolades:

  • Two-time First-Team All-Pro
  • Five Pro Bowls
  • Pro Football HoF Second-Team All-2000s

Why he could get in:

Law was a great corner who produced with more than one team. It’s hard to find a smarter corner than Law, who excelled when reading the quarterback in zone coverage.

Why he’s not a favorite:

The former first-round pick wasn’t a true shutdown corner, and his career was overshadowed by some of the all-time greats who played in his era.

Richard Seymour, DL (First-Ballot): 11/1

Richard Seymour getting a squirt of water
By Keith Allison (flickr)

Awards and Accolades:

  • Three-time First-Team All-Pro
  • Seven Pro Bowls
  • Pro Football HoF First-Team All-2000s
  • Three-time Super Bowl champion

Why he could get in:

Seymour was a dominant player on some very good Patriot defenses. The 12-year pro was not just a specialized pass-rusher at defensive end, but was a force against the run, too.

Why he’s not a favorite:

Realistically, his career sack total is a little low (57.5) and he never recorded double-digit sacks in any season of his career. There was a ton of talent on those Patriot defenses, and that could harm Seymour’s chances.

Long-shots for 2018

Tony Boselli, OT*: 33/1

Awards and Accolades:

  • Three-time First-Team All-Pro
  • Five Pro Bowls
  • Pro Football HoF Second-Team All-2000s

Why he could get in:

Boselli was a monster at left tackle, and did one hell of a job keeping Mark Brunell clean. He was the first ever draft pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and was a big factor in their early success.

Why he won’t get in this year:

His career was cut short due to injury (seven years), and there are too many other linemen waiting.

Steve Hutchinson, G (First-Ballot): 35/1

Hutchinson blocking a Packer defender
By Mike Morbeck (Wikimedia Commons)

Awards and Accolades:

  • Five-time First-Team All-Pro
  • Seven Pro Bowls
  • Pro Football HoF First-Team All-2000s

Why he could get in:

Hutchinson is one of the all-time greats at the guard position. The former first-round pick was a beast when pushing forward.

Why he won’t get in this year:

There’s no way you can justify putting him in before Faneca.

Ken Anderson (Senior): 40/1

Awards and Accolades:

  • First-Team All-Pro
  • Four Pro Bowls
  • NFL MVP (1981)
  • Offensive Player of the Year (1981)
  • Super Bowl champion (as QB coach in 2008)

Why he could get in:

His numbers must be compared to those of the era he played in, not the modern-era quarterbacks. Anderson was one of the best during his time.

Why he won’t get in this year:

His induction would open the doors to Canton for a lot of other fringe quarterbacks.

Kevin Mawae, C*: 66/1

Kevin Mawae in a Titans jersey
By Ray Montgomery (Wikimedia Commons)

Awards and Accolades:

  • Seven-time First-Team All-Pro
  • Eight Pro Bowls
  • Pro Football HoF First-Team All-2000s

Why he could get in:

Ask Curtis Martin whom he credits for his success.

Why he won’t get in this year:

Alan Faneca.

Isaac Bruce, WR*: 75/1

Awards and Accolades:

  • Second-Team All-Pro
  • Four Pro Bowls
  • Fourth all-time in career receiving yards (15,208)
  • Super Bowl champion

Why he could get in:

Go back and watch “The Greatest Show on Turf.”

Why he won’t get in this year:

You can’t possibly put him in over Randy Moss or Terrell Owens.

Jeff Saturday, C (First-Ballot): 99/1

Awards and Accolades:

  • Two-time First-Team All-Pro
  • Six Pro Bowls
  • Super Bowl champion

Why he could get in:

He understood everything Peyton Manning was barking out at the line of scrimmage and ensured his quarterback was protected.

Why he won’t get in this year:

See Kevin Mawae.

Don Coryell, Coach*: 125/1

Awards and Accolades:

  • 114-89-1 record

Why he could get in:

The “Air Coryell” offense was groundbreaking and changed the way the game is played today.

Why he won’t get in this year:

In spite of his signature offense being unique, it was never able to take Coryell’s Chargers to a Super Bowl.

Fringe Guys for the Hall of Fame

Roger Craig, RB: 200/1

He was the original Marshall Faulk. The two are the only running backs to surpass 1,000 rushing yards and receiving yards in one season. Craig is also one of three running backs to lead the league in receptions. And he won one of those NFL MVP awards.

Randy Gradishar (Senior): 200/1

He has been a Hall of Fame finalist twice, but for some reason continues to be passed over. Do people not remember the Orange Crush defense?

Steve Atwater, S: 250/1

After many years of bringing the pain, it’s Atwater who is being victimized by the selection committee now.

Priest Holmes, RB: 250/1

Terrell Davis’ induction strengthens the case for Holmes.

Drew Pearson (Senior): 250/1

Of the 22 position players named to the NFL’s 1970s First-Team All-Decade squad, only Pearson and fellow Cowboy Cliff Harris have not been enshrined in Canton.

Johnny Robinson (Senior): 300/1

Robinson joins Jerry Kramer as the only two players from the NFL’s 1960s First-Team All-Decade team who have been snubbed by the selection committee.

Matt Birk, C (First-Ballot): 500/1

What establishes a center as Hall of Fame worthy?


Photo Credit: Keith Allison (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/].