With the Pro Football Hall of Fame inducting six new players Saturday night, plenty will be said about what each of them accomplished on the field.
But for those who didn’t get to watch them in their primes or fans wondering what the members of this class would look like if they were playing this season, here are the active NFLers that offer the best comparisons for each Hall of Famer’s talent.
Kurt Warner – Russell Wilson
The ups and downs of Warner’s career are difficult for anyone to go through and hold onto their NFL job, let alone end up in the Hall of Fame. Wilson, however, has taken a similar path through the first five years of his pro journey.
Both quarterbacks quickly rose from relative obscurity, changing from team to team in hopes of better pro prospects, and achieved superstardom as part of championship squads. While Wilson surely hopes to avoid the five years of struggles that Warner experienced in the middle of his career, both went to two Super Bowls within their first three years as starters.
LaDainian Tomlinson – David Johnson
Few have toted the rock as productively as LT, but the new wave of runners features some challengers to his throne. Wearing No. 21, Ezekiel Elliott resembles Tomlinson from time to time, but the receiving skills Johnson shows off make him most like the Chargers legend.
Johnson’s already topped Tomlinson’s single-season mark for receiving yards, putting up 879 yards through the air in 2016. While LT owns the record for most rushing TDs in a season (28), Johnson also showed off a nose for the end zone, notching 20 total scores last season. It may be tough for Johnson to reach LT’s rushing totals in today’s NFL, but if Tomlinson were currently in his prime, his all-around game would likely look similar to that of the Cardinals’ back.
Jason Taylor – Danielle Hunter
The best active comparison to Taylor may be Julius Peppers, considering their resumes, physical builds, and desire to return to their original clubs. However, since Peppers is a Hall of Famer in his own right, let’s give 22-year-old Hunter the Taylor tag.
Entering his third year with the Vikings, Hunter is one of the few young pass-rushers whose lengthy 6-foot-5 build resembles Taylor’s stature, and his 12.5-sack breakout season suggests he could follow the Hall of Famer’s trajectory. Chandler Jones and Jason Pierre-Paul could also be considered players in Taylor’s mold.
Terrell Davis – Marshawn Lynch
Davis leads the charge into Canton for great players whose careers were shortened by injury, as he played at least 14 games in just four seasons. While Lynch hasn’t experienced such serious injury trouble, Beast Mode has only started 16 of 16 games once in his career.
Aside from the “what could have been” factor, both backs are among the most physical runners the NFL has seen in the last 25 years – downhill rushers who seek contact and create destruction across opposing defenses. It’s no wonder they’ve had injury issues.
Morten Andersen – Sebastian Janikowski
The easy answer would be Adam Vinatieri, the only kicker remotely within reach of Andersen’s career numbers, but it’s not easy to make the Hall of Fame, so it shouldn’t be easy to make the comparables list.
Andersen and Janikowski grew up as soccer players in Europe (Andersen in Denmark, Janikowski in Poland) and picked up American football in their late teens. Each garnered a rare kicker draft selection, did not win a Super Bowl, and holds a list of kicking records, though Janikowski’s achievements mostly concern how far he can boot it.
Kenny Easley – Kam Chancellor & Earl Thomas
Chancellor has taken on Easley’s nickname “The Enforcer” as an homage to the former Seahawks safety, so he seems like an obvious candidate. However, when you turn on Easley’s highlight tape, it’s hard to ignore how closely his creativity, ball-hawking, and playmaking resemble Thomas’ skill set.
Seattle needs both safeties to check off all the boxes Easley did in his prime, which is no slight to Chancellor and Thomas – and it’s a compliment to the original “Enforcer” that his former team thinks so highly of him and his play.
(Photos courtesy: Action Images)
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