Ranking Current NFL Hall of Fame Legacies for Top Active NFL Players

Ryan Riddle@@Ryan_RiddleCorrespondent IAugust 2, 2013

Ranking Current NFL Hall of Fame Legacies for Top Active NFL Players

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    With the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony right around the corner, it seemed relevant to rank the current Hall of Fame legacies for some of the top active players in the NFL that will most likely join these elite few in football immortality.

    All stats used in this article were taken from either NFL.com or Pro Football Reference.

    Note: This article has been edited to remove odds.

10. DE, DeMarcus Ware, Dallas Cowboys

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    Since his arrival into the NFL in 2005, DeMarcus Ware has recorded more sacks than any other player in the league over that span of time.

    This year under new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, the Cowboys plan to convert their defense into a Tampa 2 scheme, which means he will be playing defensive end in a 4-3 front for the first time in his NFL career. This is a great opportunity for him to not have to worry about dropping back into coverage. Instead, he can just line up and attack the quarterback with reckless abandon.

    But with guys like Kevin Greene, Michael Strahan and Simeon Rice still waiting to get in, there may be a backlog of worthy candidates for the Hall of Fame.

    This means Ware can't afford a drop in performance if he wants to make it to Canton. Currently, he is 19th overall in career sacks with 111. If he can average double-digit sacks for the next four seasons, it would likely place him in the top four overall, behind the likes of Bruce Smith, Reggie White and Kevin Greene. Not bad company to be in.

9. WR, Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals

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    In order for Larry Fitzgerald to make it into the Hall of Fame, he still has a significant amount of work left to do. At 29 years of age, he still has both the time and talent needed to accomplish this.

    The biggest factors holding him back the last few years were a quarterback and supporting cast who could provide him with the opportunities to produce at an elite level.

    Over nine seasons, Fitzgerald has tallied 77 receiving touchdowns, which averages out to just under nine per year. If he can play four more years at that reasonable pace, he should end up becoming the next wideout to accumulate over 100 career receiving touchdowns—which would put him in the top 10 of all-time

    Now that Fitzgerald has Carson Palmer throwing him passes, the odds have just gone up for his HOF consideration.

8. RB, Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

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    At 28 years of age, running back Adrian Peterson has already amassed nearly 9,000 yards on the ground in only six seasons. That averages out to roughly 1,400 yards per year. 

    If he can maintain this average over the course of the next four years, which would take him to the ripe age of 32, Peterson would have over 14,000 yards rushing for his career. This is a feat only four other running backs in history have accomplished—each of whom are in in the Hall of Fame.

    Peterson also happens to be the active leader in career rushing touchdowns with 76, which is 10 more than the next in line.

    Voters should fall in love with Adrian Peterson’s resume and overall story.

    His ability to dominate at record levels in an era when running backs are treated as lesser commodities makes his case for Canton a relevant one. Barring any unforeseen setbacks, Peterson should be sporting the yellow jacket at some point in his post-career future. If he can duplicate another season like the one he had last year, then the only question left is whether or not he makes it in on the first ballot.

7. QB, Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

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    In five seasons as the starting quarterback for the Packers, Aaron Rodgers has thrown 171 touchdown passes with only 46 interceptions. In that span of time he added a Super Bowl ring, Super Bowl MVP and league MVP, and has established himself as perhaps the most valuable player in the NFL over the last three or four years.

    Those all help to strengthen his case for consideration of the Hall of Fame.

    Rodgers also has more passing touchdowns than any other quarterback under the age of 30 and is sure to rack up a ton more over the next several years.

    It’s reasonable to assume my former college roommate at Cal is far from done in cementing his legacy as one of the greatest to ever play the position.

6. DB, Charles Woodson, Oakland Raiders

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    Charles Woodson has cemented quite a legacy throughout his career. This former Heisman Trophy winner out of Michigan has accumulated 55 interceptions throughout his career. Only Ed Reed has more among active players (61).

    According to Bleacher Report’s own Scott Kacsmar, only 23 defensive backs have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. So for whatever reason, these players are not often considered when it comes time to vote.

    Woodson, however, is the type of NFL icon who should transcend this positional bias, just as he did with the Heisman Trophy while in college.

    His resume highlights include AP Rookie of the Year, AP Defensive Player of the Year and a Super Bowl championship.

5. Safety, Ed Reed, Houston Texans

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    Edward Reed may be the greatest ball hawk to ever roam an NFL secondary.

    Once he does get the ball in his hands, there is no one better at maximizing on that opportunity. Reed has racked up more interception return yards than anyone in the history of the NFL (1,541).

    Reed is also the active leader in interceptions with 61 and has a Super Bowl championship to his name.

    He should be forever remembered as a key contributor to a defense which has dominated for nearly a decade.   

4. QB, Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

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    It’s hard to say how much Drew Brees has left in the tank at the age of 34. What isn’t hard to say is that he should already be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

    The only guys who have thrown more career touchdown passes than Brees are Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, Fran Tarkenton and Tom Brady. Not a bad list of names right?

    It’s also important to consider the fact that Brees has successfully brought the hardware to the city of New Orleans for the first time in franchise history.

    By the end of the 2013 season, he may be the newest member of a very exclusive club. Only Brett Favre, Dan Marino, Peyton Manning and John Elway have thrown for more than 50,000 yards in a career. Brees is roughly 4,000 yards away from hitting this mark.

3. TE, Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons

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    Tony Gonzalez is 732 yards away from reaching 15,000 yards receiving, which is one heck of a milestone for any wide receiver—the only problem is that Gonzalez isn’t a wide receiver.

    As a tight end, Gonzalez somehow managed to be second among all active players in career receiving yards, behind only Randy Moss. Those are pretty incredible accomplishments to say the least.

    Gonzalez is also sixth all time in receiving touchdowns, which is an extremely impressive feat for a tight end. Only eight players in history have accumulated 100 receiving touchdowns or more in a career.

    Antonio Gates is the second tight end behind him, with 20 fewer receiving touchdowns.

    It would be hard to imagine the greatest tight end in NFL history not making it to the Hall of Fame.  

2. QB, Tom Brady, New England Patriots

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    Tom Brady could retire tomorrow and he would be a lock for Canton.

    His career is littered with Super Bowl victories, Super Bowl MVPs, League MVPs, All-Pro honors and NFL records.

    However…

    Technically nothing is guaranteed until it actually happens right?

    So what are the odds that Brady is banned from the Hall of Fame for something like gambling on football? Not very likely to say the least, and this or something of that nature is pretty much the only thing that can keep him out at this point.

1. QB, Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos

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    Peyton Manning is arguably the greatest quarterback to ever play the game.

    He is going to be a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

    If I need to post career numbers to prove this to you, perhaps this article is not for you. 

    Such as with Tom Brady, it would require a scandal of unprecedented severity to keep this guy out of the Hall of Fame.