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Most Likely to… Enter the Hall of Fame

Every player who ever begins his career in the National Football League has a goal, to be enshrined in the almost mythic halls of Canton, Ohio in the NFL Hall of Fame. People win and people lose, dynasties are born, destroyed and reborn, but one thing is forever permanent and is therefore the ultimate goal of all who play the game.

Image Credit – NPR

With the draft coming up and with my love for statistics on full display, I want to ask the question, what position in the draft has spawned the most Hall of Fame players, any shocks and surprises. Without question the obvious answer would be Round 1, Pick 1, but let’s be honest, the first pick of the NFL draft is usually a need based pick and is rarely the best player available.

This will be based on the modern 7 round draft, however I will still take into account the later rounds. The 7 round draft began in 1994 which will of course alienate many of the players hallowed in the Hall of Fame, unless otherwise noted, anyone after the 7th round will be grouped together in one place. If a player went Undrafted and made the Hall, they will themselves have their own category too.

After researching using the official NFL Hall of Fame Website, I have come to a very interesting conclusion. Based on the current set of Hall of Famers, all the way up until the most recent class enshrined in the Hall of Fame (2019). Although 2020 and 2021 have been decided, they are not yet listed on the official website.

The most likely position to make the NFL hall of fame is…

Well, it’s a tie.

Round 1, Pick 1 and going Undrafted.

This might seem like a crazy statistic, and it absolutely is. If you take it as the round then Round 1 has without a doubt the most inductees in the NFL Hall of Fame, however since going Undrafted means no one is willing to take a chance on drafting you, then I would say this is a pick in itself. Throughout the history of the Hall of Fame, up until 2019 that is, 16 men who have been picked First overall have been welcomed into the Hall of Fame, in this time an equal 16 men who the league did not think had ‘it’ have also been given the Gold Jacket.

Image Credit – Sporting News

From this estimation then is it fair to say that you are as likely to be a Hall of Famer whether you go First or whether your name is not even called? Well, no, because the number of players taken First Overall is around 100 if you count Supplemental drafts too (we do). Whereas the number of undrafted players signed will amount to somewhere in the Thousands.

Based only on the number of Inductees though, they are one and the same.

With First overall and Undrafted holding the top spot, what position is next?

Round 1, Pick 6

Next most likely position to be a Hall of Famer is Pick number 6 and I have a theory here. The likelihood of the ‘Best Player Available’ being picked here is higher because the team manning this spot has a higher possibility of a team on a down year, as opposed to one in complete rebuild.

Image Credit – SB Nation

Now between number 1 and number 6 overall in the NFL draft a massive 68 players have been selected to the Hall of Fame, so a significant importance has to be put onto these picks. These would fill our top 5 if we were to make one, therefore the statement I made at the start of the article can be answered.

Most likely to Enter the Hall of Fame are… Picks 1-6 in Round 1, or going Undrafted.

While researching this piece, I did manage to find some very interesting points. There is at least 1 Hall of Famer from each of the rounds of what we know as the modern day draft, however Round 6 has the lowest amount with 1. That being said, you are as likely to make it to the Hall of Fame from Round 4 as you are from Round 7 as both have 9 members.

Image Credit – Pro Football Hall of Fame

In Round 1 there are 8 picks that have never had a Hall of Famer selected at that place, 18, 22, 24, 25, 29, 30, 31 and 32. Now this stands to reason that eventually these picks will have someone enter the Hall of Fame for them, however at the moment more players selected in the 27th Round of the NFL Draft occupy the Hall than players in these picks in the First.

Can entrance to the Hall of Fame be predicted? No, not even slightly. The game has changed over the years and so it is now harder than ever to miss a star when scouting, however teams are still always going to pick for need. The First round has always been the home to the most Hall of Fame players and for good reason, this will not change. What this exercise has told me though is that gems are everywhere when it comes to players and this just goes to show, no one is a sure thing.

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