On Tuesday, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced nine former NFL players as first-time nominees on the 2024 ballot. These nine players are among the 173 modern-era nominees up for consideration for enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. The inductees will be announced in February.
Here’s a ranking of their likelihood of becoming Hall of Famers, from least to most likely:
9. T.J. Lang | Offensive line, 2009-2018
Lang spent eight of his 10 seasons blocking for the Aaron Rodgers-led Green Bay Packers, earning Pro Bowl selections in 2016 (his final season with the team) and 2017 (his first of two seasons with the Detroit Lions).
8. Max Unger | Center, 2009-2018
Unger was voted as the first-team All-Pro center in 2012 and won the Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks the next year. He spent his last four seasons as Drew Brees’ center in New Orleans and earned his third Pro Bowl selection shortly before his 2018 retirement.
7. Josh Sitton | Guard, 2008-2018
Of the three offensive linemen who were first-time nominees, Sitton would seem to be likeliest for induction. While he was never a first-team All-Pro, he was selected to four Pro Bowls and won the Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers in the 2010 season.
6. Jamaal Charles | RB, 2008-2018
Charles was often injured, but at his peak, he was one of the best running backs of his era. He led the NFL with a combined 19 rushing and receiving touchdowns for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013 and was a first-team All-Pro twice.
5. Jordy Nelson | WR, 2008-2018
Nelson was one of Aaron Rodgers’ favorite targets in Green Bay. He caught at least 13 touchdown passes three times. According to Stathead from Pro Football Reference, Nelson has the fourth-most seasons with at least 13 receiving TDs of any player in NFL history, tied with Hall of Famers Marvin Harrison, Cris Carter and Lance Alworth.
4. Haloti Ngata | DT, 2006-2018
Ngata was the anchor of the Baltimore Ravens defensive line in the late 2000s and early 2010s, earning two first-team All-Pro selections and a Super Bowl XLVII win. Two of Ngata’s defensive teammates, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, are enshrined in Canton.
3. Brandon Marshall | WR, 2006-2018
No matter which of the six teams Marshall played for, he was always among the NFL’s best receivers. He was a first-team All-Pro with the Chicago Bears in 2012 and tallied 1,000 receiving yards eight times. Any receiver who can be an All-Pro with the inconsistent Jay Cutler as his quarterback is worthy of Hall of Fame consideration.
2. Antonio Gates | TE, 2003-2018
Along with Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez, Gates ushered in the era of the receiving tight end. He was frequently the favored receiver of Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers and a first-team All-Pro in three straight seasons. Gates retired in 2018 as the NFL’s all-time leader in touchdowns by a tight end (116). That’s quite the accomplishment for a man who only played basketball in college.
1. Julius Peppers | DE, 2002-2018
Peppers was a two-way star in college, playing football and basketball at North Carolina. The Carolina Panthers are glad he chose pro football. The second overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft lived up to expectations with three first-team All-Pro selections and 159.5 sacks, the fifth most in NFL history. Only four players — Bruce Smith, Reggie White, Deacon Jones and Kevin Greene — have more sacks than Peppers. All are Hall of Famers. Peppers should be a lock.