The announcement of Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2014 less than a day away. A few months ago I wondered how it would look if I broke down the number of HOFers by draft class. For all of the attention given to to NFL Draft classes each year, I rarely see much attention given to how those draft classes fared once their careers have ended. Does every draft class have a HOFer? And which ones have the most? For all of the attention writers give to “re-drafting” classes one, two, three years down the road, this seems like a much better barometer of how strong a class really is.
So I’ve compiled a list of HOFers by draft class from 1980 to 1997 and I’ve also included any possible future inductees in the analysis section below the year.
The 1980 class eventually enshrined three players, but it took a little while: outside of first ballot Anthony Munoz, it took Stephenson and Monk a few tries to get in (more than a few in Monk’s case).
As if the number itself wasn’t impressive enough, all six of 1981’s enshrinees were drafted in the first three rounds. Taylor, Lott, and Singletary all got in on the first try, while Long was inducted on his second. Seattle safety Kenny Easley could find himself in Canton at some point, too.
The class’s best could soon have some company in long-time kicker Morten Andersen.
Yet another immensely talented group. Quarterbacks Elway and Marino seem to garner the most attention from the draft, but Jim Kelly was a good QB in his own right. Eric Dickerson, Bruce Matthews, and Darrell Green getting selected early, makes 1983 one of the best first rounds we’ve ever seen.
The whole USFL/CFL bidding war resulted in all three of 1984’s inductees entering the league by way of supplemental draft. Also of note is Warren Moon, who began his NFL career in 1984, despite leaving college in 1977.
The career leaders in both sacks and receiving everything came out of the 1985 draft. Doleman was quite the sack master in his own right. They could be joined by another sack leader (Kevin Greene) and receiver (Andre Reed) in the not-so distant future.
For now anyways. Charles Haley finds himself on the cusp of induction for a fifth straight year. It’s only a matter of time before he gets in.
Rod Woodson went in first ballot and Cris Carter got the call last year. Highly unlikely that anyone else gets in.
Tim Brown will join the four at some point, but if not this year, there’s no telling when that will be.
1989 produced three first ballot HOFers and the late great Derrick Thomas.
Four of the best to ever play their respective positions are already in and will surely be joined by Junior Seau when he becomes eligible next year.
’92 is a different story. Three-time All-Pro Darren Woodson is the only hope for this class and even he is a long shot at this point.
1993: 1 (Willie Roaf)
Faulk and Allen were pretty easy choices for the HOF committee. Isaac Bruce has the numbers and the tie to a great Rams team, but it will be a uphill battle for his bust in Canton.
Sapp and Martin have been a part of the last two HOF classes and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Derrick Brooks made it three in a row for ’95. Terrell Davis was a semifinalist for the 100th straight year (roughly). Have to think he gets in at some point as well.
1996: 1 (Jonathan Ogden)
Still a little early in the game for this year. Ray Lewis was the last player to retire from this class last year. Still, Jonathan Ogden got in first-ballot and he could be joined by Marvin Harrison tonight. Lewis and Terrell Owens will get their busts as well.
1997: 0 (Walter Jones?)
Could 1997 end up with three first-ballot HOFers? Chances are that Walter Jones will be the first member of the 1997 draft class inducted into the Hall of Fame tonight. Orlando Pace will probably be a first ballot HOFer himself next season. Tony Gonzalez is another lock five years from now.