Now that the Pro Football Hall of Fame has officially inducted another seven members, including former Chiefs great Curley Culp, the attention turns to the potential class of 2014. It's a group of deserving players still waiting their turn and intriguing newcomers. Here's our breakdown of the likely five to get the call:
The Buccaneers struck gold when they landed Brooks in the bottom of the first round in 1995. The linebacker made plays from sideline to sideline and was a featured impact defender on a defense loaded with them (Ronde Barber, Warren Sapp, Simeon Rice). Whether dropping in back in coverage (25 career interceptions) or getting after the run (24 career forced fumbles), Brooks was dynamic in pursuit (1,301 career tackles). A first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Much is made about the glut of wide receivers waiting for their chance to enter the Hall, and that continues this year with the candidacy of Marvin Harrison. But the voters seem intent on making some guys wait their turn, which means a guy like Tim Brown will likely get in over a first-timer. Brown certainly deserves the honor; he's No. 5 all-time in both receptions and receiving yards. An incredibly durable and dynamic player, Brown is the most deserving receiver among this year's class.
The Hall of Fame has duly rewarded the finest offensive tackles of recent years, and Walter Jones stands as tall as any of the 11 years that he played. The 9-time Pro Bowler paved the way for Shaun Alexander to work his magic and the Hall of Fame named him to their first team for their All 2000s Team. He likely suffered a bit from playing football on the West Coast, but immortality should not escape him in his first year on the ballot.
The Hall of Fame voting committee clearly appreciates the work in the trenches of offensive linemen, as Larry Allen and Jonathan Ogden both claimed spots in this year's five (the senior committee added two to bring it to seven). Shields is the only truly great offensive linemen up for a spot in this year's class, which means he's a slam dunk choice to be selected. Even last year, people were claiming Shields should have made it as a first ballot HoF candidate and Chiefs fans will undoubtedly agree.
The Giants selected Strahan in the second round of the 1993 NFL Draft, and enjoyed the fruits for a full 15 seasons. Strahan is truly one of the greatest defensive linemen in the history of the NFL with an incredible 141.5 career sacks in 216 games played. Strahan's single-season sack mark of 22.5 can be considered shady, but there's no denying his ability to get to the quarterback as the fifth all time sacks leader. In addition, Strahan was a well-rounded player who was stout against the run and always had a nose for the ball -- as his 24 career forced fumbles show.
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