The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s website noted offensive linemen Jahri Evans and Joe Thomas, defensive lineman Dwight Freeney, linebacker James Harrison and defensive back Darrelle Revis were the five players who reached the semifinalist stage in their first year of eligibility.
Here is a look at the 15 players who advanced to the next stage:
Darrelle Revis, CB
Joe Thomas, OT
Willie Anderson, OT
Torry Holt, WR
Reggie Wayne, WR
Andre Johnson, WR
Jared Allen, DE
DeMarcus Ware, LB
Dwight Freeney, DE
Albert Lewis, CB
Ronde Barber, CB
Devin Hester, KR/PR/WR
Zach Thomas, LB
Patrick Willis, LB
Darren Woodson, S
Of the players eligible in their first year, Revis, Thomas and Freeney are now finaliists.
31. JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR)
Smith-Schuster took advantage of his one year with the Chiefs, notching 76 catches for 898 yards in 15 games. Excellent from the slot, Smith-Schuster can be explosive at times but hasn’t been the same receiver he was early in his career with the Steelers. His best fit may be Kansas City.
Saturday will also bring an end to what’s been a very up-and-down first season for Dylan Parham. He’s had performances where he looks like someone who could be a starter for several years to come and others where he’s looked like a draft bust. Perhaps the best example of his volatile play comes from the last two games.
Against the Steelers, Parham recorded his lowest PFF grade of the season at 38.0 which ranked second to last among guards for the week. The following week, he turned it around with his highest single-game grade at 85.3 and that was good enough for third-best at the position.
While Parham won’t be able to stabilize his play in one game, what he can do is show growth by stringing together strong back-to-back performances — something he has yet to do this season — and by having more success as a pass protector.
Pass blocking held back the rookie’s overall grade against San Francisco as he earned a mark of 35.3 in that department compared to 92.3 as a run blocker. While the split isn’t as dramatic, that falls in line with the difference in his two grades for the entire season — 46.6 in pass protection and 67.9 as a run blocker.
So, that should be Parham’s focus this week, especially with Chris Jones coming to town. Jones currently leads all defensive tackles in pressures with 66 while ranking second with a 92.0 PFF pass-rush grade.
The Scoring Leader: Patrick Mahomes, 464.40 points (Yahoo basic scoring)
Despite an ordinary set of wideouts, Mahomes is headed for his second MVP award and his second career QB1 finish. Mahomes leads the league in passing yards, touchdowns and QBR, and he’s pushed his YPA back over the 8.0 mark.
He’s the best player in the league at the moment, and I don’t think anyone’s all that close.
When the Chiefs said goodbye to Tyreek Hill in a blockbuster trade last spring, it created very real questions about who would step up to replace the explosive Pro Bowler as a touchdown threat in Kansas City. The answer? Jerick McKinnon, obviously. The veteran running back — re-signed on the eve of training camp — had two scoring receptions in Sunday’s 27-24 win over the Broncos and now has seven TD catches since Week 13, more than any player in football in that span. (Yes, the power of Patrick Mahomes is prominently at play here.)
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They started with the information that’s already been reported:
“He’s made substantial improvement,” said Dr. Timothy Pritts of UC Health. “It appears his neurological condition and function is intact. We are very proud to report that. This marks a really good turning point in his ongoing care.”
Hamlin has been able to open his eyes and communicate with the staff using his hands, pen, and paper. The first thing he asked was, “Who won?” The doctors responded with, “You did. You won the game of life.”
3. NFL makes roughing the passer even worse
It was reported last month that the NFL is going to discuss the possibility of making roughing the passer a reviewable penalty. The league has made touching the quarterback a frightening task for defenders, as sack artists are not even permitted to allow the natural force of gravity to affect them — like when they momentarily put their weight on the quarterback while taking him down to the ground. Instead of reversing course with these rules, my prediction is the NFL is indeed going to make the penalty reviewable — which will be a disaster.
Remember when the NFL made pass interference reviewable for one year back in 2019? It sounded like such a great idea in theory, but it didn’t work out that way. Only 13 of 81 pass interference challenges were successful in 2019, per SI.com. There were two reasons why, in my opinion. One, I hypothesize the league wanted officials to lean towards their original call, and two, slowing down these kinds of plays in the review process really muddled things.
Basically, we paused games to view what we perceived to be clear and obvious pass interference penalties in slow motion, only for the official to turn on his mic and announce that there was no penalty. It was maddening, and that’s what will happen with roughing the passer.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Several members of the Kansas City Chiefs spoke to the media for the first time since it happened on Wednesday, including wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling — who shared his thoughts on how Hamlin’s situation affects the entire football world.
“We all play this game, and we put our lives on the line and to see one of our football brothers — in this fraternity of football — go down like that and (almost) lose his life, it’s hard,” Valdes-Scantling told reporters on Wednesday. “We put our lives on the line every single play, and a lot of people take that for granted. It’s tough to see (and) it’s tough to sleep at night because that could’ve been any one of us. It could’ve been myself (or) any one of those guys in the locker room, and I think every football player around the country felt that.”
The Hamlin situation gave fans, players and everyone involved in football a grim reality check to the always-prevalent dangers of the sport. The fact that Hamlin went down after making a routine tackle highlights the volatile nature of football, where everyone is vulnerable on any given play. Valdes-Scantling acknowledged this harsh reality as he explained how players deal with knowing the dangers that reside on every down, especially for a position as susceptible to big hits as a wide receiver.
“You just play the game how you’ve always played it,” Valdes-Scantling explained. “That was a routine play that no one would’ve expected that to be the outcome of it. We thought it was a normal play that we’ve seen a million times. So you can’t go in there with fears that it can happen to you because it can happen to you on a routine play or a big hit, so it’s a part of the game, but obviously we don’t want to see anyone in that position ever again.”
A tweet to make you think
Josh Jacobs was not on the field with the @Raiders for practice on Thursday.— Vincent Bonsignore (@VinnyBonsignore) January 5, 2023