The newest group of players in their first year of eligibility for Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement has heavy representation within the trenches and on defense.
Along the line, first-year hopefuls vying for a spot in the Class of 2023 include Browns ironman offensive tackle Joe Thomas and longtime Saints guard Jahri Evans, who share 10 All-Pro seasons between them, and defensive end Dwight Freeney, a sack artist who compiled 107.5 of his 125.5 career sacks for the Colts.
Safety Kam Chancellor and cornerback Darrelle Revis have been tabbed as first-time nominees, as well. The former paved his way to stardom as a member of Seattle’s “Legion of Boom,” while the latter stymied star wideouts in isolation for years on the dreaded “Revis Island.”
Chris Johnson, one of eight running backs in league history with a 2,000-yard rushing season, is the lone skill player among the nine nominees entering their first cycle of eligibility.
In order to be considered for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, individuals must have last played in the NFL at least five full seasons ago.
A full list of the nominees can be seen below:
Running Back: Chris Johnson
Offensive Linemen: Jahri Evans (G), Joe Thomas (T)
Defensive Lineman: Dwight Freeney (DE)
Linebackers: NaVorro Bowman, James Harrison
Defensive Backs: Kam Chancellor (S), Darrelle Revis (CB)
Punter: Shane Lechler
Quarterbacks: Randall Cunningham, Jake Delhomme, Jeff Garcia, Dave Krieg, Donovan McNabb, Steve McNair
Running Backs: Shaun Alexander, Mike Alstott (FB), Tiki Barber, Larry Centers (FB), Corey Dillon, Warrick Dunn, Eddie George, Priest Holmes, Steven Jackson, Vonta Leach (FB), Jamal Lewis, Lorenzo Neal (FB), Eric Metcalf (also WR/PR/KR), Fred Taylor, Ricky Watters, Brian Westbrook
Wide Receivers: Anquan Boldin, Troy Brown (also PR/KR), Donald Driver, Henry Ellard (also PR), Irving Fryar, *Devin Hester (also PR/KR), *Torry Holt, Joe Horn, *Andre Johnson, Chad Johnson, Derrick Mason, Muhsin Muhammad, Andre Rison, Jimmy Smith, Rod Smith, Steve Smith Sr., Hines Ward, *Reggie Wayne, Wes Welker, Roddy White
Tight Ends: Dallas Clark, Ben Coates, Wesley Walls
Offensive Linemen: Willie Anderson (T), Matt Birk (C), Lomas Brown (T), Ruben Brown (G), D’Brickashaw Ferguson (T), Kevin Glover (C/G), Jordan Gross (T), Olin Kreutz (C), Nick Mangold (C), Logan Mankins (G), Tom Nalen (C), Nate Newton (G/T), Jeff Saturday (C), Mark Schlereth (G/C), Chris Snee (G), Brian Waters (G), Richmond Webb (T), Erik Williams (T), Steve Wisniewski (G)
Defensive Linemen: John Abraham (DE also LB), *Jared Allen (DE), La’Roi Glover (DT/NT), Casey Hampton (DT/NT), Robert Mathis (DE), Leslie O’Neal (DE), Simeon Rice (DE), Clyde Simmons (DE/DT), Justin Smith (DE), Neil Smith (DE), Justin Tuck (DE), Vince Wilfork (DT/NT), Kevin Williams (DT/DE)
Linebackers: Jessie Armstead, Cornelius Bennett, Lance Briggs, Chad Brown, Tedy Bruschi, James Farrior, London Fletcher, Seth Joyner, Willie McGinest (also DE), Takeo Spikes, Pat Swilling (also DE), *Zach Thomas, *DeMarcus Ware, *Patrick Willis, Al Wilson
Defensive Backs: Eric Allen (CB), *Ronde Barber (CB/S), Dre’ Bly (CB), Nick Collins (S), Antonio Cromartie (CB), Merton Hanks (S), Rodney Harrison (S), Albert Lewis (CB), Terry McDaniel (CB), Tim McDonald (S), Allen Rossum (CB), Asante Samuel (CB), Bob Sanders (S), Charles Tillman (CB), Troy Vincent (CB), Adrian Wilson (S), Darren Woodson (S)
Punters/Kickers: Gary Anderson (K), Jason Elam (K), Jeff Feagles (P), Jason Hanson (K), John Kasay, (K), Sean Landeta (P), Ryan Longwell (K), Pat McAfee (P), Matt Turk (P)
Special Teams: Josh Cribbs (KR/PR also WR), Brian Mitchell (KR/PR also RB)
The 129 modern-era nominees include 67 offensive players, 50 defensive players and 12 special teams players. The list of modern-era nominees will be reduced to 25 semifinalists in November and 15 finalists in early January.
Coach/contributor finalist Don Coryell and senior finalists Joe Klecko, Chuck Howley and Ken Riley will also be considered for enshrinement.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2023 will be revealed during NFL Honors ahead of Super Bowl LVII and will be enshrined in August of 2023.
*Denotes 2022 finalist