August typically serves as the month in which some of football’s most illustrious icons are annually inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. While this year’s festivities were predictably postponed, that hasn’t stopped some people from keeping up the Hall of Fame discussions.
ESPN’s Bill Barnwell recently wrote an article breaking down future Hall of Famers for all 32 NFL teams. He split notable players into four groups based off of their chances of getting enshrined in Canton, Ohio. Players with the “locks” designation are given a 100 percent chance of making it into the Hall, a “likely” designation have between a 70 to 99 percent chance, the “in the running” group has 40 to 69 percent odds, while the “work to do” group had between a 10 to 39 percent chance of getting in.
The Bears player with the best HOF odds in the article was edge rusher Khalil Mack, whom Barnwell deemed a “likely” entrant.
Here’s what he had to say about Mack’s case for the Hall:
He has made five consecutive Pro Bowls and has three first-team All-Pro nods to go with his Defensive Player of the Year trophy from 2016. He has been one of the five best players at the second-most lucrative position in football over the past five years, and the fact that he was traded for two first-round picks and then delivered a wildly successful season with all of that attention in 2018 helps him. He probably needs two more All-Pro seasons to finalize his case.
Barnwell’s assessment is certainly fair, as he could likely use another big year or two to cement himself as a first-ballot Hall of Famer, even though he would likely eventually make it in were he to hypothetically retire today. Seeing Patrick Willis, who made it to seven Pro Bowls and was a five-time first-team All-Pro, not make it into the Hall in his first year of eligibility, likely means Mack has a little bit more work to do to become a legitimate lock.
Another Bear was given encouraging odds, as Eddie Jackson was placed in the “in the running” group despite playing for only three seasons. Barnwell stated that Jackson’s success thus far, including leading all safeties in interceptions with six in 2018 and having two Pro Bowls in three seasons, indicates he could be on his way with continued strong play.
Jimmy Graham and Kyle Fuller were both listed in the article as well, albeit as Hall of Fame long shots. Barnwell mentioned that Fuller going four seasons without making it to his first Pro Bowl hurts his odds to an extent, and he had this to say on Graham, who was elite in his prime but has a short Hall-worthy body of work:
Graham’s case is interesting. His peak is Hall of Fame-worthy — he has two of the three best seasons in fantasy football history by a tight end — but it lasted only four seasons. From 2015 to 2019, his numbers are virtually identical to those of Eric Ebron. Graham has five Pro Bowls to his name, but I don’t think he has done enough to earn a gold jacket.
Graham may deserve a little more credit for how strong his peak was. Pro Football Reference has his Hall of Fame odds at 43.92 percent, which seems like a fair shake. He could find his way into Canton as a senior inductee down the line.