Washington Redskins: 5 Most Probable Future Hall of Famers Currently on Roster
Trying to predict future Hall of Famers is typically an effortless task. Sure, there's a few guys that draw heavy debate and lead to intense arguments with other football fans, but for the most part, we all know a Hall of Famer by the time he enters the latter years of his career.
This, however, does not take into account the Hall of Fame snubs—the guys you believe to be first-ballot Hall of Famers and they end up getting their bronze bust years later.
As enjoyable as it would be to have a team where you could argue a larger number of your hometown players as potential future legends of the game, that's not exactly the case with the Washington Redskins.
But with some mediocre stat-glancing and some wishful speculation, the Redskins have a few guys to keep an eye on as future Hall of Famers (in no particular order).
Although not as flattering a stay in Washington as hoped for, Donovan McNabb is a future Hall of Famer. And for what it's worth, Redskins fans (technically) could say that they had a Hall of Fame quarterback on their team's roster--the first since Sonny Jurgensen in 1974.
The anticipation of having McNabb suit-up in the burgundy and gold was an unforgettable feeling. For the first time in a long time, the Redskins were equipped with a legitimate quarterback. Sure we didn't get a 28-year-old with tremendous upside and potential, but we acquired a proven veteran leader that led his team to the Super Bowl just five years prior.
We all know how McNabb's first season in Washington ended. McNabb had thrown for 1,971 yards, seven touchdowns and eight interceptions before being benched with three minutes to go in Week 8. There was a sense of trust (at least for me) when McNabb dropped back in the pocket, a feeling of trust that I hadn't felt in quite some time. But other than that, the only upside to McNabb was the 4-3 record before the bye week.
McNabb played five more games following the bye week and it didn't get much better. In those five, McNabb went on to throw seven more touchdowns and another seven interceptions, with the Redskins losing four of the five.
But not to get hung up on the disappointment, it's McNabb's career in Philadelphia that has earned him the discussion. In 12 seasons, McNabb has thrown for over 36,000 yards, he has tossed 230 touchdowns (to 115 interceptions), he has a career quarterback rating of almost 86 and he's damn close to being a career 60 percent passer.
This one could start some arguments, but LaRon Landry has the talent, skill and potential to get his name on a ballot and eventually end up in Canton.
When the Redskins drafted Landry sixth overall in the 2007 NFL Draft, the goal was to create a danger zone in the secondary--an area of concern for all opposing quarterbacks.
In teaming up with the late Sean Taylor, Landry was comfortable in his natural position at strong safety. But after an injury to Taylor in Week 12, followed by his tragic passing in November of that year, Landry was forced to move to free safety and stay there, spending the next two seasons at the position.
When Mike Shanahan arrived and brought on defensive coordinator Jim Haslett to run the newly implemented 3-4 scheme, Landry was reborn. Not to say that Landry stunk it up as a free safety, but he's notably not a cover-first kind of safety. Landry is a hard-hitting head hunter that plays his best ball near the line of scrimmage.
Last season, Landry started off playing at a Pro Bowl level and never looked back. Landry racked up 17 tackles against Dallas in Week 1, followed by 11 tackles the next week against Houston, 13 against Green Bay in Week 5, 11 against Indy in Week 6 and nine against Philadelphia in Week 10 before losing the rest of the season to injury.
Landry is perfect for the strong safety position and a great fit for the 3-4 defense. Barring injury, there's no doubting the fact that Landry could put up Pro Bowl numbers year in and year out for the next six seasons. Landry will turn 27 this October and there is still so much to see out of this guy.
Although he won't lock down a receiver or haul in a lot of interceptions during the course of the year, Landry is one of the hardest hitting safeties in the NFL and his presence alone places fear into his opponents--two stats that don't necessarily show up on the box score.
With Shanahan and Haslett in place and Landry back into his comfortable element, I'm very excited to see what his career has in store for the Redskins and his Hall of Fame aspirations.
Here's another guy that could draw serious argument between a Redskins fan and non-supporter.
Not saying that the debate of Cooley making the ballot is impossible, but it's not made simple when there are only a total of 15 tight ends in the Hall.
Cooley isn't a flashy player, by any means, when compared to other tight ends like Tony Gonzalez (a future first ballot), but the potential to put up worthy and respectable numbers is there for Cooley. Not to mention, Kyle Shanahan's West Coast offense could really help to speed up the process (Owen Daniels was a top target for the offense when Kyle served as coordinator in Houston).
For starters, Cooley is durable—missing just nine games over seven NFL seasons (all nine coming in 2009). Cooley will turn 29 next month and, while that isn't ideal for making a run at Canton-worthy stats, he's got a ton left in the tank.
Also helping Cooley's chances is the fact that he is the prototypical safety valve for any quarterback. Unlike other tight ends that seem to serve as bulky receivers and stretch the field (not a bad thing), Cooley appears to play at his best when he's closer to the line and has room to run after the catch. Being the safety valve and preferring close catches, Cooley's receptions are sure to stay at a high rate.
Finally, Cooley is a great target in the redzone—a necessity for ends looking to make their case. Through Cooley's first four seasons in the league, he hauled in 27 touchdowns. Although the past three seasons haven't been as productive (just six in the last three years), I would predict a lot out of Cooley in Shanahan's offense.
The consistent snubs received by linebacker London Fletcher throughout his 13-year career is one of the most frustrating things in all of football, regardless of whether he's a Redskin or not.
In addition to minimal stardom or notice, Fletcher hadn't received a clear-cut vote to the Pro Bowl until just last season. Even with the understanding that the Pro Bowl is crap, it's sad to see an under-appreciated workaholic who has tallied 1,640 tackles in his career receive nothing more than nine votes as a Pro Bowl alternate. It wasn't until 2009 that Fletcher "made" the Pro Bowl due to Jonathan Vilma skipping the game and preparing for the Super Bowl. Fletcher then made it again in 2010.
And even with his insane number of tackles and longevity, it's the other things that make Fletcher such a likable and respected football player. For example, the fact that Fletcher was undrafted out of John Carroll in 1998 and has gone on to become one of the greatest defensive field generals in the league.
Or how about the fact that Fletcher is considered undersized for the position, at just 5'10" and 245 pounds? Fletcher is the perfect representation of the infamous Mark Twain quote, "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog."
Even though it doesn't register on the stat sheet, Fletcher is also one of the most respected men amongst his teammates and NFL peers. The Hall of Fame isn't necessarily free of knuckleheads or criminals, but if it took character into consideration, Fletcher would be pretty high on the list.
Finally, Fletcher serves as the definition of durability. In 13 NFL seasons, London Fletcher has not missed a single game. Yes, you heard that correctly. In 13 seasons, after having to fight for a roster spot and play with a described "undersized" body, the 36-year-old Fletcher hasn't missed a football game.
Even if it's only the fans from St. Louis, Buffalo and Washington, that were lucky enough to witness Fletcher first hand, that really understand his importance, hopefully Canton catches word by the time London is ready to hang 'em up.
As a Redskins fan, there's no way you can't be excited about Brian Orakpo and his future as a pass-rushing linebacker, especially in the 3-4.
After being selected 13th overall in 2009 from the University of Texas, Orakpo registered 11 sacks and earned a spot as a reserve on the NFC Pro Bowl roster. Then, to keep us fans intrigued with awe, Orakpo finished his sophomore campaign last season with 8.5 sacks and made it a job of receiving holding calls every game.
In just his first two seasons, Orakpo has grown a lot as a player. Next year will be Orakpo's second under defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and we can all expect to see Orakpo much more familiar with the scheme.
Orakpo has the athleticism, freakish specimen and pure skill to make his career truly prolific. Standing 6'4" and weighing somewhere in the 260 pound range, Orakpo is almost unblockable. He runs a 4.6 40-yard dash, he can bench press 225 pounds 31 times and his football IQ at age 24 is extremely impressive.
This pick may include some serious speculation, as all of us know how some players can fall off or cut their careers short due to injury, but Orakpo has absolutely every trait necessary to earn himself a bronze bust in Canton.