UW football players have seen unrivaled NFL success in the last decade or so. From undrafted players earning starting spots to first rounders making MVP cases, Badgers are taking the NFL by storm.
According to ProFootballReference.com's "Hall of Fame Monitor" (here, with more info here), a number of current and recent NFL Badgers have a good chance to be enshrined in Canton. PFR calculates their HOF score such that a score of 100 represents about an average hall of famer at that given position. So, let's discuss the HOF chances for some current and recent NFL Badgers!
Joe Thomas - HOFm score = 112.48. Average Tackle HOFm score = 95.
Using HOFm score, Thomas is ranked as the fifth best Tackle of all time and the highest ranked Tackle that is not already represented by a bust in Canton. He should get a few courtesy points for being with the Browns all those years.
J.J. Watt - HOFm score = 125.20. Average DE HOFm score = 105.
Watt the elder, just like Thomas, is currently the fifth best DE in NFL history as per HOFm score. He also is the highest ranked DE to not already have given a teary-eyed HOF speech. Perhaps more remarkably, Watt has done this while dealing with injuries and only in 9 seasons (as defined by PFR as "seasons as primary starter", used throughout the rest of this post). Only 2 other players in the top 20 HOFm score for DE played for fewer than 10 seasons.
Russell Wilson - HOFm score = 75.47. Average QB HOFm score = 104
Wilson is currently ranked as the 25th best QB of all time per HOFm score. Five hall of famers have lower scores than Wilson, so he certainly has a chance to make it even if he never plays another snap. I think two things help boost his score - he's (usually) played for winning teams and he represents a unique QB stature and style of play. An argument can be made that he has helped to usher in a more complete understanding of what makes a modern QB effective. He has averaged about 7.5 HOFm points per year, so if he plays even a few more years with reduced effectiveness (say, worth 5 HOFm points per year) I think he gets in.
Off to a Great Start
T.J. Watt - HOFm score = 32.08. Average OLB HOFm score = 106
The youngest Watt is perhaps only days away from an NFL sack record and weeks away from an NFL Defensive Player of the Year award (he better win it this year). He has accrued this HOFm score in only 5 seasons. He has had some injuries, and knowing J.J.'s career this seems like the most likely cause of any HOF-path derailment. If we project 5 more seasons with another 30 added to his score, he would sit around 60. However, I think it is close to a foregone conclusion that T.J. wins the DPOY and gets some M.V.P. votes, which should provide a significant boost to this score. I'm curious to see his score after this year - I wouldn't be surprised to see it in the mid 40's. Overall, I think another 5 years like the 5 he has had should mean he has a great chance. The name value doesn't hurt either.
Jonathan Taylor - HOFm score = N/A
Average RB HOFm score = 107
It is much too early, and the RB position is much too difficult to predict, to make this claim. He doesn't even have enough starts to quality for an HOFm score! But...Jonathan Taylor Touchdown has statistically had one of the best first two years of any RB relative to his peers in NFL history. A couple more years like this and you could put JT's peak with any RB in league history. I am not going to jinx him...
Is there anyone else you think could become at least a borderline HOF player? Ryan Ramcyzk? Graham Mertz?
Either way, the success of former Badger football players is unprecedented!