Andre Johnson Needs Three More Strong Seasons to Make the Hall of Fame

Nate DunlevyGuest ColumnistFebruary 15, 2013

The great Andre Johnson need to get fitted for a blazer.
The great Andre Johnson need to get fitted for a blazer.USA TODAY Sports

Andre Johnson is a Hall of Fame-caliber player.

That much is not up for debate.

Whether or not Johnson eventually makes it to Canton is another question.

The recent election of Cris Carter to the Hall opens up the door for other quality receivers. Johnson has already made a strong case for himself, but he still has a way to go before guaranteeing himself election.

Injuries have dampened his career totals in some categories, but if you look hard enough, you can find oddball records Johnson holds. For instance, he's the NFL record holder for receiving yards per game among players with at least 500 catches.

On the whole, receivers are judged by raw numbers and rings. Johnson has healthy totals but no jewelry. It's patently absurd to judge anyone by titles alone, but there's no question voters take it into consideration.

Johnson has six Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams under his belt. He ranks 27th in yards, 82nd in touchdowns and 22nd in receptions.

At 31 years old, Johnson doesn't have many productive years left. Most receivers begin to slow down around age 32 or 33. He would have to extend his peak production years past that mark to improve his case.

Over his last three years, he's averaged 77 catches, 1,102 yards and five touchdowns.

If he were to match that production for three more seasons, he would see his career totals would jump into the top 10 in yards and receptions, though he'd still just be 35th all time in receiving touchdowns.

His biggest benchmark will be how voters treat Reggie Wayne.

Wayne and Johnson will likely finish with nearly identical numbers, and it's easy to make a case that Johnson was the superior overall player. Still, Wayne's Super Bowl ring will give him extra credit, as will his high profile during his career.

If Johnson can't get ahead of Wayne in line, he has little chance for the game's highest honor. Wayne is a borderline candidate, so Johnson must surpass him.

Even if Johnson plays as well from 32 to 34 as he did from 29 to 31, he'll still be behind Wayne's totals in receptions and touchdowns, though he might be able to catch him yards.

Assuming a reasonable end to his career with two more elite seasons and no Super Bowl title, Johnson will have put up a strong but not iron-clad case for the Hall of Fame. He will likely get in eventually, but it could take him many years to do so.

Whenever it happens, it will be too long overdue for one of the best pass-catchers in league history.