Current NFL Players Who Are Locks to Get Into the Hall of Fame

By Steve Tsilimos | Posted 1 year ago

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is gearing up for “football’s greatest weekend” in Canton, Ohio. Each year (excluding 2020), the most significant gathering in football happens in early August to induct the new class into one of the most exclusive fraternities in sports. To kick off the weekend, the Las Vegas Raiders will take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2022 Hall of Fame Game at 8 p.m. ET Thursday, Aug. 4.


The game is part of Enshrinement Week, where six players, one official, and one coach will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The newest members will include T Tony Boselli, WR Cliff Branch, S LeRoy Butler, LB Sam Mills, DE/DT Richard Seymour, and DT/DE Bryant Young, plus official Art McNally and coach Dick Vermeil. 

How does it work? The Selection Process

There are no official criteria for what makes an NFL player a Hall of Famer; besides, the player must be retired from the NFL for at least five years. The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 49-person Selection Committee, composed of one press member from each NFL city and 16 at-large delegates and one from the Pro Football Writers Association. They nominate qualified players each year alongside a fan base nomination process. A group of selectors does multiple rounds of voting to narrow down somewhere around 100 nominations to 15 finalists each year. 


The finalists are then narrowed from 15 to 10, then to five during the Committee’s annual meeting -- “Selection Saturday.” From there, the finalist must receive 80% of the votes to be enshrined alongside the game’s finest forever. 


There are unwritten rules that the Committee uses to judge the eligibility of a future HoF member. Ranked below is my understanding of what the Committee has valued over the 59-year history of the club. 


Peak Performance -- Historic seasons, yearly awards including Super Bowl MVP, All-Pro, League MVP, Leading Rusher, etc. 

Total Value -- Players' likeness and impact on the game (record holders)

Longevity -- Sustaining a level of excellence, measured by career stats.

Years Elected -- Being a semi-finalist or finalist previously is a bonus. 2020’s 

Tier One – Sure-fire First-ballot HoFers?

Becoming a member of The Pro Football Hall of Fame is challenging, especially on the first ballot. Luckily for us, we live in a great football era where there are (at least) 7 current players who have already put together a career worthy of such accolades. We saw two all-time greats hang up their cleats after last season; Ben Roethlisberger and Rob Gronkowski put together careers worthy of first-ballot induction. 

QB Tom Brady

• The GOAT. Seven-time Super Bowl Champ


Tom Brady is the greatest football player to play the game – there is no arguing that statement. Brady’s career could be split into two separate careers between 2001-2011 and 2012-present, and each 10-year span would separately be enough to earn him a gold jacket. The face of the league will quickly turn into the face of the HoF. Breaking down his records and accomplishments would take a whole article. Anyone reading this article already knows how incredible his career has been. There will be a great showing of gold jackets when Brady gets inducted, and the spectacle will be replayed on all the sports channels worldwide. 

QB Aaron Rodgers

• Four-time regular season MVP
• The most talented in the greatest generation of QBs.


Aaron Rodgers is a four-time league MVP – second most behind Peyton Manning’s five – and a Super Bowl MVP. Those awards are certainly enough to make Rodgers a sure thing to go to Canton on his first ballot. Rodgers is one of those athletes who took a position that was the most crucial in sports and played it at a level never seen before. The combination of his size, arm talent, speed and IQ is out of this world, which translated into him being a superstar in the NFL. Rodgers showed no signs of his age (38) last season by putting together another fantastic regular season, throwing 37 touchdowns and only four INTs – earning him his second straight MVP award.

DT Aaron Donald

• Three-time Defensive Play of the Year
• The best interior defensive lineman ever


In a league where edge-rushers have become the star of the defense, Aaron Donald has been consistently the most disruptive defensive player -- as an interior lineman. Donald is going into his ninth season and has already won three Defensive Player of the Year awards. The last defensive tackle to win the DPOY award was HoFerWarren Sapp in 1999. ‘Mean’ Joe Greenwas the only DT to win the award twice before Donald, which took place in the ’70s. In 2020 Aaron Donald joined Lawrence Taylorand J.J. Watt as the only players to win three DPOY awards. Donald has made the Pro Bowl every year of his career and has been selected as a First-team All-Pro for seven consecutive seasons. Last season, Donald and his Rams hoisted the Lombardi Trophy, which resulted in Donald becoming the highest-paid non-QB player ever in the NFL. He earned that paycheck by being the best defensive tackle ever, and if he continues his dominance, he will end his career as the greatest defensive player of all time. 

DE J.J. Watt

• Three-time Defensive Player of the Year 
• Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year


J.J. Watt was the best overall player on defense during three separate seasons and is a five-time First-team All-ProThat certainly is enough for Watt to get into Canton on his first try. On top of that, he's a member of the 100 Sacks Club, plus a recipient of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award. Watt holds the record for the most seasons with 20+ sacks (2) and is tied with the most seasons leading the league in sacks (2). Watt is well respected and liked among his peers, which will help him get invited to Canton as soon as possible. 

RB Adrian Peterson

• At the top of many career rushing categories


Adrian Peterson is a free agent and seems set on playing at least one more season in the NFL. The former Oklahoma Sooner is currently fifth all-time in career rushing yards (14,918) and ranked fourth with 120 rushing TDs (only three TDs shy of Marcus Allen). Also, Peterson holds the record for most yards in a single game (296) and is one of only eight players to have rushed for over 2,000 yards in a season. A.P. is a former Offensive Rookie of the Year, League MVP, a three-time rushing champion and a seven-time All-Pro. Peterson was the third-fastest player to reach 10,000 rushing yards in NFL history, and in 2015, Peterson became the oldest RB to be named a First-team All-Pro at 30. 

DE/LB Von Miller

• Super Bowl MVP and one of the best edge rushers ever.


Von Miller won a Super Bowl MVP after dominating the postseason, which puts him in rare company as a defensive end/linebacker. Miller has been one of the top guys at a highly valued position for an entire decade. The Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2011, a seven-time All-Pro, and a member of the 100 Sacks Club made Miller a unanimous pick for the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team. Furthermore, Miller showed up big for the Rams on their way to the Super Bowl last season, giving Mr. Miller his second ring. 

TE Travis Kelce

• Super Bowl Champ 
• Five-time All-Pro


Travis Kelce is a six-time All-Pro and a Super Bowl champion. He is still in his prime and already has the most 1,000-yard receiving seasons by a tight end (6), most receiving yards in a season by a TE (1,416), and most 100-reception seasons by a TE (2). Kelce is a generational talent at one of the most critical positions in the modern era of football. He will likely go down as the greatest TE to ever play the game and will be an easy selection for the committee.

WR Julio Jones

• NFL’s 2010 All-Decade Team
• Two-time receiving yards leader


Julio Jones has been a game changer since he entered the league, which could explain why he became the fastest player in NFL history to reach 10,000 career receiving yards back in 2018. When Jones is healthy, his impact on the game at the receiver position is rivaled by few. Jones' career average of 91.9 receiving yards per game is the highest among eligible receivers. Jones is a five-time All-Pro and has led the NFL in receiving yards twice during his ten-year career. Jones has some gas left in the tank and teamed up with Brady on the Bucs this year, giving him a great chance to get his first ring and have another productive season. If Calvin Johnson is a first-ballot guy, then so should Jones. 

Tier Two -- Players who will get in but are not first-ballot locks yet 

QB Patrick Mahomes

• Super Bowl MVP
• Regular Season MVP


Patrick Mahomes has been dominant enough in four full seasons to make him a future HOFer. If Mahomes never played another game, I do not think he would be a first-ballot guy, but he would probably get in. His early flash of brilliance is unparalleled in the NFL, precisely the type of guy the voting committee loves. In 2018, Mahomes' first full season, he won league MVP. In his second season, he won Super Bowl MVP. In 2020 he made it back to the Super Bowl and lost to Brady with the better team. Last season he led the Chiefs to the AFC Championship game and fell just short. Mahomes has the highest QBR ever (105.8), and his current trajectory has him on pace to be one of the greatest to play the game. All that to say, he is more than likely a first-ballot guy, but he still needs a few more seasons before that is guaranteed. 

QB Russell Wilson

• Super Bowl champion
• Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year 


Russell Wilson has been consistently winning football games with stellar play for a decade while leading his team to two Super Bowls, one of which the Seahawks won. Wilson ranks first among all QBs in wins (113) and Pro Bowl selections (9) in their first ten seasons and is second in pass TDs (292). Wilson has been consistently excellent for long enough to get him in, but there are some holes in his resume. He has only been a second-team All-Pro once and never a first-team member. Of the 29 quarterbacks in the Hall of Fame, only four don’t have a first-team All-Pro nod – Roger StaubachJohn Elway, Troy Aikman, and Warren Moon. I think Wilson fits perfectly with these all-time greats. 

OT Jason Peters

• Super Bowl champion
• Six-time All-Pro


The Selection Committee does not value offensive linemen as much as most other positions, making it more difficult for OL to get into Canton. Jason Peters has been one of the top left-tackles in the NFL for the past decade and has made six All-Pro teams. That earned him a spot on the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team. That mixed with a Super Bowl victory with the Eagles should be enough to get him in. If Peters gets in, he will join a short list of players, 15 at the moment, who were undrafted and made the HoF.

OG Zack Martin

• All-Pro every year in the league
• Five-time First-team All-Pro


In 2014, Zack Martin became the first rookie offensive lineman to be named a First-team All-Pro since Dick Huffman in 1947. Every year since, he has been one of the best offensive linemen and has made the All-Pro team. Martin was named to the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team even though he had only played six years up to that point. There is no evidence that Martin’s performance will decline, so he will likely be a first-ballot guy. He just needs a few more years to cement his legacy. 

LB/DE Khalil Mack

• NFL Defensive Player of the Year 
• Two Pro Butkus Awards


Khalil Mack was considered, by his peers, the best defensive player and fifth best player in the league when they voted on the NLF’s Top 100 Players of 2017. That was following the year he won Defensive Player of the Year and his first Butkus Award. Mack is coming off his worst season after only playing seven games with the Chicago Bears last season. The Bears decided to trade him to the Chargers, where he will be playing alongside another All-Pro – DE Joey Bosa. If Mack puts together a few good years in L.A., which I expect him to do, then he will be getting his Gold Jacket on the first try, but until then, I think he would need a few shots to get in the HoF.

K Justin Tucker

• Most accurate kicker: 91.1%
• Longest field goal ever made: 66 yards


Justin Tucker may be the best NFL kicker ever, but he needs more time to prove it. In his first season (2012), he was a big part of the Ravens winning the Super Bowl. Every year after that season, Tucker has been an All-Pro. He already has the most seasons with 30 made field goals (7) and is the fastest kicker to reach 1,000 points and 300 field goals. There have only been two pure place-kickers to be inducted into the HoF, so it will not be easy, but Tucker is undoubtedly on pace. 

Tier Three: Borderline Players

• QB Matt Ryan
• OT Tyron Smith
• DE Geno Atkins
• WR Tyreek Hill
• WR A.J. Green


Get updates on the launch of OSDB Plus and sign up for the OSDB Newsletter.