The 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame class was finalized Saturday as LaDainian Tomlinson, Terrell Davis and Kurt Warner headlined the group of seven.
That leaves some looking toward 2018, when the class is littered with future Hall of Famers. Led by Ray Lewis, there are several iconic players up for eligibility for the first time, as well as a few players who have a good shot of making it in their second year.
Here are the top eligible candidates for the 2018 class.
USA TODAY SportsMitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
Ray Lewis, LB
Ray Lewis is about as close to a lock to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer as they come. Not only does he have a strong case for that, but he’s also considered one of the best defensive players in NFL history – so he’s got that going for him. Lewis won two Super Bowls with the Ravens and was a 13-time Pro Bowler and a seven-time All-Pro. There aren’t many accolades he doesn’t have, and he is a lock to get into the Hall of Fame – likely as a first-ballot guy.
Randy Moss, WR
Moss is eligible for the first time in 2018, and it would come as no surprise to see him get in on his first ballot. Like Terrell Owens, some of his antics and spats with his teams could impact voters’ minds, but there’s no question he’s deserving of being a Hall of Famer. Moss led the league in touchdown receptions five times, setting the record of 23 in 2007 with Tom Brady. Unfortunately, the Patriots fell short of a ring that year, which is the biggest blemish on Moss’ resume.
Getty ImagesJim McIsaac
Brian Urlacher, LB
Urlacher recorded more than 1,300 tackles in his career, all of which was spent with the Bears. He was a game-changing linebacker in Chicago’s 4-3 defense. Urlacher also added 22 interceptions, two pick-sixes and two fumble recoveries for touchdowns to his 41.5 sacks. Having Ray Lewis on the same ballot will probably hurt Urlacher’s chances a bit, but being a first-ballot Hall of Famer is absolutely a possibility for the former Bears linebacker.
Ronde Barber, CB
Barber probably won’t go down as one of the best pure cornerbacks the NFL has ever seen, but he was a versatile one. He’s the only player in league history with 40 interceptions and 20 sacks, leading the NFL in picks in 2001 with 10. Barber was also a five-time Pro Bowl choice and a Super Bowl champion with the Buccaneers. He was a true ballhawk who always found himself around the action.
USA TODAY SportsKim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Brian Dawkins, S
Dawkins should be among the favorites in 2018. He was a physical presence at safety and a playmaker on the back end for both the Eagles and Broncos. As a nine-time Pro Bowler and four-time first-team All-Pro, Dawkins has the numbers to make it into the Hall. It’s the lack of a ring that may hurt him.
Richard Seymour, DE/DT
Seymour is another first-time candidate, but he’s not likely to get in in 2018. He has just 57.5 career sacks and nearly 500 tackles, which are both solid numbers. However, they’re probably not enough to make him a first-ballot Hall of Famer. What might get Seymour in early are his three Super Bowl rings and the role he played on those championship teams.