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Skins Stats: Potential Redskins Hall of Famers

Comparing the resumes of Redskins HOF hopefuls to that of current Hall of Fame members to assess their odds of being enshrined forever in Canton

Mike Powell/Getty Images

Introduction

On Saturday, the Hall of Fame selection committee will elect the 2017 class for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  This 55th class will expand a fraternity that is currently comprised of 303 former players, coaches and contributors.

This year, many Skins fans are excited about the prospect of offensive linemen Joe Jacoby becoming the 20th Redskins player (primarily) to be elected to the Hall of Fame.  Jacoby is probably long overdue for this recognition, as this is his 19th year of eligibility, his seventh year as a semifinalist or better and his second year in a row as a finalist.  None of the other 13 players that are finalists have been eligible to be selected to the Hall longer than Jacoby has.

It sounds like Joe Jacoby has a good shot at getting in, but this got me thinking about exactly how likely it was for him to be elected this year.  I also started to wonder which other Redskins players might soon get the call to the Hall (please note that Jacoby is the only person eligible this year that spent the majority of his career with the Washington Redskins).

Unfortunately, there is no widely accepted Hall of Fame probability metric for football like there is for other sports such as baseball and basketball, but I did stumble across a HOF scoring system developed by Football Perspective guest poster Richie Wohlers.  Here is Wohler's explanation of his system:

This is the first part in my series looking at the NFL Hall of Fame.  I am going to take a look at which players are in the HOF, and look at some objective attributes of HOFers.  I am only going to focus on players who played any part of their career after the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.  While this will include many players who played in the pre-merger days, the bulk of the careers will have at least been played since 1960 with at least 21 combined teams.  Before the AFL came along there were generally many fewer teams, so things like draft position and Pro Bowl/All Pro honors are more difficult to compare.  Also, the game of pro football was much different before the 1950s.  I am mostly going to stick with looking at the few statistics that can be compared across positions, such as All Pros, Approximate Value, etc.

I created a very quick and simple formula to give each player a career score based on the average of six statistical categories (All-Pros, Pro Bowls, Weighted AV, Total AV, Super Bowl Appearances, Super Bowl wins) at a position.  Each category is weighted equally (though, the categories are related, and winning a Super Bowl essentially becomes worth 2 categories).  The average HOF player at each position will have a score of 100.  This makes an easy (though not exhaustive) way to rank careers, and to quickly see if anybody is missing from the HOF.  I feel that using honors (Pro Bowl, All Pro) helps factor in peak value, AV factors in total value and Super Bowls helps factor in players on winning teams, who HOF voters seem to favor.

Now for the math behind how he actually comes up with the career score metric:

Methodology: For All-Pros, Pro Bowls, Career AV and Total AV, I am looking at the average numbers for each player at his position. In an attempt to make the average HOFer at a position worth 100 points, I am assigning a weight of 16.6 for each category (16.6 times 6 categories equals 99.6 points). If an average player had 5.7 All Pros I divided 16.6 to get 2.9. So each All Pro is worth 2.9 points at that position. Super Bowls are the exception. I'm just going with a straight points system. One appearance is 8 points, 2 appearances is 14 points, 3 appearances is 18 points, and then 2 more points for each additional appearance. Super Bowl wins are worth 12, 20, 26, 30 and then 2 more per additional win. I add them up for a "Career Score".

This is by no means a perfect system; for example, only the AP all pro team is used, Super Bowls may be weighted too heavily and there is some double counting between the inputs.  However, we need to remember that there is no perfect system to determine Hall of Fame probability for the NFL, and in my opinion, this one does a pretty nice job of capturing the things that the voters consider when they make these decisions every year.

I'll be using Wohler's career score metric and the inputs for it (pro bowls, 1st team AP all-pro teams, career approximate value, weighted career approximate value, championship appearances and championship wins) to compare the resumes of some Redskins that seem to have a decent shot of one day being elected to the resumes of current Hall of Famers that played at the same positions.

My qualifications to be included were that the Redskins player in question had to: be a member of the Washington Redskins for the majority of his NFL career, to be a member of the Redskins' Ring of Fame and to have been nominated for the HOF in at least two of the last three years. I also looked at active Washington players that have been selected to multiple pro bowls as a member of the team.  I only used HOFers that played after the merger took place for the basis of my comparisons for the same reasons that Wohlers did.

Now, I did break my own rules by including a few extra Redskins that I wanted to look at, but that didn't quite meet those parameters; however, if you don't see a certain player it is probably because they didn't meet the minimum requirements that I laid out.

Definitions & Abbreviations

Before we dive into the data, I want to provide definitions and abbreviations for some of the stats and terms that we'll be using in this study:

Pro Bowler - A player is considered a pro bowler if he was named to the pro bowl as a starter, a reserve, or an injury replacement.  If named to the team, a player is considered a pro bowler even if he does not attend the pro bowl due to injury.

1st Team All Pro (AP) - The words "all-pro" mean first-team all-pro, according to the Associated Press all-pro team from 1940--present or the UPI team from 1931--1939.

Approximate Value (AV) - This is PFR's attempt to put a single number on each player-season since 1960 so that we can (very approximately) compare across years and across positions.  See this blog page for all the details.

Career Approximate Value (CarAV) - See the entry on AV.  The Career AV is computed by summing 100% of the player's best-season AV, 95% of his second-best-season AV, 90% of his third best, and so on.  The idea is that the Career AV rating should weight peak seasons slightly more than "compiler"-type seasons.

Title Appearances (Title Appear) - The total number of Super Bowls, NFL Championships and AFL Championships that a player's team participated in when said player was on that team.

Titles - The total number Super Bowls, NFL Championships and AFL Championships that a player's team won when said player was on that team.

Career Score (Car Score) - Richie Wohler's metric to compare players to Hall of Famers who play at the same positions.  See the quoted text boxes in the introduction section for more information.

All-Decade Team - The National Football League All-Decade teams are honorary teams named by members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.  The committee selects members for each team based on their most active decade.  The All-AFL team is also included in this designation for our purposes, as are second-team all decade selections.

Adjusted Catch Yards (ACY) - ACY= 5 * Receptions + Receiving Yards + 20 * Receiving Touchdowns.

All of the following tables are sorted by the career score metric (Car Score).

Edge Defenders

This group is comprised of players who spent the majority of their years in the NFL or AFL playing at defensive end in a 4-3 defensive front or outside linebacker on a 3-4 defense.

Hall of Fame Edge Players
Name PB AP1 Total AV CarAV Title Appear Titles Car Score
Reggie White 13 8 226 157 2 1 146
Lawrence Taylor 10 8 182 137 2 2 139
Bruce Smith 11 8 225 148 4 0 134
Ted Hendricks 8 4 147 107 4 4 122
Charles Haley 5 2 99 83 5 5 100
Michael Strahan 7 4 161 121 2 1 100
Carl Eller 6 5 168 123 4 0 97
Jack Youngblood 7 5 139 105 1 0 81
Richard Dent 4 1 121 96 2 2 78
Deacon Jones 8 5 119 91 0 0 71
Rickey Jackson 6 0 160 113 1 1 71
Fred Dean 4 2 70 59 2 2 71
Chris Doleman 8 2 157 114 0 0 65
Dan Hampton 4 1 123 101 1 1 65
Derrick Thomas 9 2 134 106 0 0 63
Kevin Greene 5 2 122 95 1 0 59
Andre Tippett 5 2 109 90 1 0 56
Claude Humphrey 6 2 90 72 1 0 54

HOF Trends:

  • Every one of these players was named to at least four pro bowls.
  • Of these 18 edge defenders, 15 of them either had over 100 career sacks, were named first team all pro multiple times or played in at least one league championship.
  • The career sack average and median for the group was 134 sacks.
Potential Redskins HOF Edge Players
Name PB AP1 Total AV CarAV Title Appear Titles Car Score
Charles Mann 4 0 97 78 4 3 79
Dexter Manley 1 1 78 65 3 2 64
Ryan Kerrigan 2 0 49 43 0 0 17
HOF Low 4 0 70 59 0 0 54
HOF MEDIAN 7 2 137 106 2 1 74
HOF AVERAGE 7.0 3.5 141.8 106.6 1.8 1.1 87.2

Charles Mann- Mann comes up short in every category except championship appearances and wins.  His 83 sacks are also about 50 below average.  However, he still might have a shot according to his career score, which places him right around the group median and average.

Dexter Manley- Much like Mann, Manley only measures up when we look at Super Bowls.  His 103.5 unofficial career sack total is nice, but his single pro bowl and all pro season (both in1986) probably make him a tough sell.

Ryan Kerrigan (active)- Ryan Kerrigan has a lot of work to do, but he'll only be 29 and in his seventh year next season.  The average Hall of Fame pass rusher played in twice the number of seasons (14), by the time they decided to hang up their cleats.  If Kerrigan can add four or five more pro bowls, an all pro nod or two, a Super Bowl appearance and about 40 to 50 more sacks to his resume then he'll have a shot.  That will be a challenge for him, but it'll be doable if he continues to be so durable.

Off-Line of Scrimmage (LOS) Linebackers

This group is made up of players that operated as an inside linebacker or an outside linebacker in a 4-3 front for the majority of their years in the NFL or AFL.

Hall of Fame Off-LOS Linebackers
Name PB AP1 Total AV CarAV Title Appear Titles Car Score
Jack Ham 8 6 148 114 4 4 129
Derrick Brooks 11 5 194 144 1 1 112
Mike Singletary 10 7 159 123 1 1 110
Junior Seau 12 6 191 130 2 0 110
Nick Buoniconti 8 5 138 103 2 2 106
Bobby Bell 9 6 133 103 2 1 104
Ray Nitschke 1 2 120 94 6 5 97
Dave Robinson 3 1 103 81 3 3 81
Willie Lanier 8 3 108 88 1 1 77
Chris Hanburger 9 4 126 96 1 0 75
Harry Carson 9 0 119 91 1 1 69
Dick Butkus 8 5 95 78 0 0 62
Dave Wilcox 7 2 92 73 0 0 47

HOF Trends:

  • Eleven of these 13 players either made at least seven pro bowls, were selected to multiple all-pro teams or appeared in a title game. 
  • Eight of them accomplished all three of the aforementioned feats.
  • Six players on this list both were on a championship and an all-decade team.
Potential Redskins HOF Off-LOS LBs
Name PB AP1 Total AV CarAV Title Appear Titles Car Score
London Fletcher 4 0 141 97 1 1 62
Ken Harvey 4 0 78 64 0 0 29
HOF Low 1 0 92 73 0 0 47
HOF MEDIAN 8 5 126 96 1 1 97
HOF AVERAGE 7.9 4.0 132.8 101.4 1.8 1.5 90.7

London Fletcher- Fletcher hits the mark in terms of approximate value, and his Super Bowl appearance and win with the Rams also help his cause.  However, his lack of honors (PB and AP) really come back to bite him.  He'd have a much better shot if he hadn't been the victim of as many pro bowl snubs.  Both he and Ken Harvey did at least garner two second team all-pro selections.

Ken Harvey- Harvey falls below the average and the median in all six measures, and he would rank last in every one of them but pro bowls if he were ever to be elected.  His career score of 29 is the lowest in this study among retired players.  Harvey's 89 career sacks (that's good for 46th all-time if you exclude unofficial totals) are impressive, but they probably won't be enough to carry him to Canton.

Offensive Tackles

Hall of Fame Offensive Tackles
Name PB AP1 Total AV CarAV Title Appear Titles Car Score
Anthony Munoz 11 9 174 133 2 0 120
Ron Mix 8 9 102 82 5 1 115
Ron Yary 7 6 128 97 4 0 93
Rayfield Wright 6 3 103 82 2 3 93
Jonathan Ogden 11 4 122 94 1 1 92
Art Shell 8 2 121 92 2 2 91
Walter Jones 9 4 127 97 1 1 89
Orlando Pace 7 3 128 106 2 1 89
Gary Zimmeran 7 3 131 100 1 1 82
Willie Roaf 11 3 141 107 0 0 73
Bob Brown 6 5 95 77 0 0 59
Jackie Slater 7 0 129 87 1 0 55
Dan Dierdorf 6 3 98 77 0 0 51

HOF Trends:

  • This is a pretty incredible collection of talent.  All 13 of these tackles made at least six pro bowls and were selected to an all-decade team.
  • Only one of them was not an all pro for multiple seasons, and he (Jackie Slater) was a second-team all pro on four occasions.
  • Ten of these players appeared in a championship game and seven of them won at least one title.
Potential Redskins HOF Offensive Tackles
Name PB AP1 Total AV CarAV Title Appear Titles Car Score
Joe Jacoby 4 2 103 82 4 3 91
Jim Lachey 3 3 92 78 1 1 64
Chris Samuels 6 0 76 62 0 0 34
Trent Williams 5 0 65 57 0 0 29
HOF Low 6 0 95 77 0 0 51
HOF MEDIAN 7 3 127 94 1 1 89
HOF AVERAGE 8.0 4.2 123.0 94.7 1.6 0.8 84.8

Joe Jacoby- Things are looking pretty good for the man of the hour.  He falls a bit short in both honors and AV categories, but his championship resume carries the day.  He is tied for both the most NFL championship appearances and wins in this group.  His career score of 91 is better than both the average and median among HOF tackles.  I expect Jacoby's long wait to finally end on Saturday.  ESPN's John Keim, NFL.com's Elliot Harrison and Football Outsiders' Scott Kacsmar all agree.

Jim Lachey- Lachey was Jacoby's successor at left tackle for the Burgundy and Gold, but he couldn't quite duplicate what Jacoby was able to accomplish. Lachey only bested Jacoby in all-pro selections.  He also nearly failed to hit the HOF average and exceed the median in all six of the measures in this study.

Chris Samuels- The former star left tackle doesn't fare well at all when you compare him to just about any of these players. In fact, he ranks dead last in every single category among all the retired tackles that we looked at.

Trent Williams (active)- The only active offensive player that we'll consider is Trent Williams.  It's no surprise that Williams has a long way to go, but he's already made some headway with AV and especially with his five pro bowls.  If he can keep up the pace and play his way to three more pro bowls, then the Silverback might really be sitting pretty.  That would give Williams eight pro bowls.  Per PFR, 51 of the 75 players (68%) that have earned that honor eight or more times since the merger have been inducted into the Hall of Fame.  By my count, at least another 15 of the remaining 24 will make it, which brings our total to 66 of 75 players (88%)

Centers

Hall of Fame Centers
Name PB AP1 Total AV CarAV Title Appear Titles Car Score
Mike Webster 9 5 163 116 4 4 125
Jim Otto 12 10 154 106 1 0 102
Jim Langer 6 4 107 89 3 2 88
Mick Tingelhoff 6 5 149 102 4 0 84
Dermontti Dawson 7 6 125 98 1 0 74
Dwight Stephenson 5 4 91 81 2 0 62

HOF Trends:

  • Every one of these players appeared in at least one title game, but only two of them were on teams that actually won a championship (Mike Webster and Jim Langer).
  • All but one of these centers is part of an all-decade team (Mick Tingelhoff).
  • Every Hall of Fame center earned at least five pro bowl and four all-pro bids.
Potential Redskins HOF Centers
Name PB AP1 Total AV CarAV Title Appear Titles Car Score
Jeff Bostic 1 0 86 66 4 3 70
Len Hauss 5 0 110 79 1 0 46
HOF Low 5 4 91 81 1 0 62
HOF MEDIAN 7 5 137 100 3 0 86
HOF AVERAGE 7.5 5.7 131.5 98.7 2.5 1.0 89.0

Jeff Bostic- Bostic is truly carried by his championship numbers.  He has the lowest pro bowl, all pro, AV and weighted AV in the group.  His lone pro bowl, in particular, sticks out like a sore thumb here.

Len Hauss- Len Hauss fares much better in pro bowls and AV than Bostic does, but he gets blown away in career score because of the difference in Super Bowls between the two former Skins centers.  Neither player is likely to don the yellow jacket.

Wide Receivers

Hall of Fame Wide Receivers
Name PB AP1 Total AV CarAV Title Appear Titles Car Score
Jerry Rice 13 10 250 159 4 3 222
Lance Alworth 7 6 120 98 4 2 140
Paul Warfield 8 2 136 106 5 3 121
Marvin Harrison 8 3 161 124 1 1 107
Michael Irvin 5 1 129 106 3 3 100
Art Monk 3 1 129 93 4 3 94
John Stallworth 3 1 102 80 4 4 92
Fred Biletnikoff 6 2 119 89 2 1 88
Don Maynard 4 1 132 101 2 2 86
Lynn Swann 3 1 73 62 4 4 86
James Lofton 8 1 140 101 3 0 82
Bob Hayes 3 2 96 81 2 1 76
Andre Reed 7 0 133 98 4 0 72
Cris Carter 8 2 135 98 0 0 71
Charley Taylor 8 1 125 96 1 0 69
Tim Brown 9 0 144 104 1 0 67
Steve Largent 7 1 140 103 0 0 62
Charlie Joiner 3 1 134 91 0 0 48

HOF Trends:

  • Ten of these 18 wideouts were voted to at least seven pro bowls, and 16 of them were all pros at least once.
  • Sixteen is also the number of these players that have been a part of a team that reached the championship, and 11 of those 16 were on the winning team in the big game.
  • All but five of these players were named to an all-decade team.
Potential Redskins HOF Wide Receivers
Name PB AP1 Total AV CarAV Title Appear Titles Car Score
Gary Clark 4 1 107 86 2 2 81
Henry Ellard 3 2 133 96 0 0 57
HOF Low 3 0 73 62 0 0 48
HOF MEDIAN 7 1 133 98 3 1 86
HOF AVERAGE 6.3 2.0 133.2 99.4 2.4 1.5 93.6

Gary Clark- Unfortunately, Gary Clark just misses the mark in most categories.  He is, however, buoyed by his two Super Bowl rings and his eighth place standing in this group in adjusted catch yards (ACY= 5 * Receptions + Receiving Yards + 20 * Receiving Touchdowns).  Clark doesn't come out looking horrible in any one metric, so perhaps his title and receiving numbers will be just enough to push him over the edge one day.

Henry Ellard- Ellard has essentially the opposite problems as Clark.  His lack of title game experience is hurting him, his approximate value numbers are adequate and he ranks sixth worst in adjusted catch yards among the wideouts in our cohort.

Returners

The only four men that have been enshrined in the HOF primarily for their work on special teams were either kickers or punters (George Blanda, Lou Groza, Jan Stenerud and Ray Guy) and not returners.  That would make this next Redskin the first player to ever be elected to the Hall of Fame primarily as a returner.

Potential Redskins HOF Returners
Name PB AP1 Total AV CarAV Title Appear Titles
Brian Mitchell 1 1 49 39 1 1

Brian Mitchell- If the selection committee decided that they wanted to buck that trend, then enshrining Brian Mitchell into the Pro Football Hall of Fame would be a great place to start.  His career numbers and rankings as a returner tell the tale, just look.

Brian Mitchell Career Values & All-Time Rankings
Category KR & PR KR & PR Yds KR & PR TD AP Yards
Value 1,070 19,013 13 23,330
All-Time NFL Rank 1st 1st 2nd 2nd
Player Ahead None None D. Hester J. Rice
Diff Btwn 1st & 2nd 249 4,010 6 216
Diff Btwn 2nd & 3rd 110 1,515 1 1,527

There you have it, first place all-time in the number of combined kick and punt returns and total return yards.  He ranks second all-time in combined kick and punt return touchdowns behind only the electrifying Devin Hester.

Mitchell also ranks third in punt return touchdowns and first in punt returns, punt return yards, kick returns and kick return yards.  I mean, this guy was like the Jerry Rice of the return game.  Okay, he was a bit of a compiler, so maybe Emmitt Smith is a more apt comparison.

Speaking of Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith, Mitchell sits right between them in the career all-purpose yards rankings.  He is just over 200 yards behind the great Rice for the all-time NFL lead.  He is 1,766 yards ahead of Smith who ranks fourth.  Brian Mitchell is the only player that ranks in the top six of this category and that is not already a member of the Hall of Fame.  At least nine of the top 13 players in all-purpose yards will eventually have a bust in Canton.  The other four are Mitchell, Steve Smith, Darren Sproles and Herschel Walker.

Oh, and one last thing: if you think that B-Mitch was a zero outside of the return game, then think again.  Only 78 other players in league history have matched his regular season production as a rusher and a receiver, and roughly 20% of them will end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame if they aren't already there.

*All statistics were gathered on 1/30-2/2 and are courtesy of Football Perspective, The Pro Football Hall of Fame and Pro Football Reference*