Will there be any first-ballot NFL Hall of Famers in 2017?

One of the greatest honors a professional football player can receive is being elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

It is an even bigger honor for a player to be elected in his first year of eligibility. This year, the only player we saw earn first-ballot Hall of Fame induction status was longtime Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre, who held nearly every major NFL passing record at the time of his retirement. Favre's election ensured that we will see a player inducted into the Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility for the fourth consecutive year.

Warren Sapp, Larry Allen, and Jonathan Ogden accomplished the feat in 2013, Walter Jones and Derrick Brooks pulled it off in 2014, and the late Junior Seau was bestowed with the honor in 2015. Now that the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2016 is in the books and this season is safely underway, we thought that it would be a good idea to look at next year's class, more specifically, the players who have a chance of being elected in their first year of eligibility.

With that being said, here is a look at the six most notable players who will be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the first time this year, and our take on their chances of earning induction in the Class of 2017.

Cowboys vs. Chargers


Career Stats:

13,684 rushing yards
4.3 yards per carry
145 rushing touchdowns
624 receptions
4,772 receiving yards
17 touchdown receptions

Career Honors:

2006 NFL MVP
5-time Pro Bowler
6-time All-Pro
2 NFL rushing titles
Walter Payton Man of the Year (2006)
5th-most rushing yards in NFL history

Simply put, we would be shocked if LaDainian Tomlinson is not a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He is one of the most dynamic running backs the league has ever seen, and he played at an extremely high level for almost a decade. In 2006, the former TCU Horned Frog turned in one of the greatest single seasons by a running back in NFL history, rushing for 1,815 yards and 28 touchdowns while also catching 56 passes for 508 yards and three receiving touchdowns. All said, it would be a crime if Tomlinson is not part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2017.

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys - Wild Card Round


Career Stats:

37,276 passing yards
234 touchdown passes
117 interceptions
85.6 quarterback rating
3,459 rushing yards
29 rushing touchdowns
98-62-1 regular season record
5 NFC Championship Game appearances
1 Super Bowl appearance

Career Honors:

6-time Pro Bowler
NFC Player of the Year (2004)

While he had an excellent career, we highly doubt that Donovan McNabb will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. When it comes down to it, his resume is missing the ever-important Super Bowl title, and his career statistics do little to strengthen his case. On top of that, we firmly believe that Kurt Warner is worthy of induction before McNabb. That said, we are confident that McNabb will eventually have a bronze bust in Canton, Ohio several years down the road.

Cincinnati Bengals v Houston Texans


Career Stats:

766 receptions
11,059 receiving yards
67 touchdown receptions
14.4 yards per reception

Career Honors:

6-time Pro Bowler
4-time All-Pro
NFL receiving yards leader (2006)

There is no arguing that Chad Johnson has a Hall of Fame-caliber career resume. We are confident that he will wear a gold jacket sometime in the near future. However, we just don't believe that his resume is strong enough for him to be elected in his first year of eligibility. On that note, there may not be a Hall of Fame acceptance speech we are looking forward to more than Johnson — whenever that day comes.

New York Giants v Philadelphia Eagles


Career Stats:

895 solo tackles
236 assists on tackles
36 forced fumbles
19 fumble recoveries
37 interceptions
26 sacks
3 defensive touchdowns

Career Honors:

9-time Pro Bowler
6-time All-Pro

Brian Dawkins was hands down one of the best safeties in the game for the vast majority of his 16 NFL seasons. And on top of being a dominant player, Dawkins was also one of the most emotional and fiery leaders the league has ever seen. Like Johnson, we believe that Dawkins is a lock for the Hall of Fame, but he will not be elected in his first year of eligibility. Look for the longtime Philadelphia Eagle to be enshrined in Canton sometime within the next five years.

Jets at Dolphins


Career Stats:

139.5 sacks
525 solo tackles
250 assists on tackles
46 forced fumbles
29 fumble recoveries
8 interceptions
9 defensive touchdowns

Career Honors:

6-time Pro Bowler
4-time All-Pro
2-time AFC Defensive Player of the Year
NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2006)
Walter Payton Man of the Year (2007)

Jason Taylor will likely join the prestigious list of first-ballot Hall of Famers next year. The longtime Miami Dolphins defensive end finished his career with the sixth-most sacks in NFL history, and he was one of the most dominating defensive players in the league for close to a decade. When it comes down to it, Taylor should be a no-brainer pick for the Hall of Fame selection committee.



Career Stats:

1,000 receptions
12,083 receiving yards
85 touchdown receptions
12.1 yards per reception

Career Honors:

4-time Pro Bowler
3-time All-Pro
2-time Super Bowl champion

Hines Ward joins Tomlinson and Taylor as players we believe will be honored as first-ballot Hall of Famers in 2017. The longtime Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver embodies everything you could ask of a professional football player. Before emerging as an elite receiver, Ward made a name for himself as a standout on special teams and was also one of the rare wideouts who took pride in his blocking.

When he retired, Ward held nearly every receiving record in Steelers history, and was one of only 12 wide receivers in NFL history to record 1,000 or more career receptions. In summation, the selection committee will have a hard time explaining themselves if they leave Ward out of the Hall of Fame in 2017.

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