One of the main narratives following Super Bowl LV was Tom Brady’s undisputed claim as the NFL’s GOAT. Even all-world receiver Jerry Rice conceded that title to Brady, who won his seventh Super Bowl and fifth Super Bowl MVP at age 43. While Brady’s status as the GOAT can still be debated, his longevity and sustained excellence is truly peerless.
That being said, Brady is not the GOAT when it comes to a Pro Football Reference metric. The website created a “Hall of Fame Monitor” in 2019 that was designed to estimate a player’s chances at being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Using approximate value, Pro Bowls, All-Pros, championships and other statistical milestones, the site created a point system to determine the pecking order at each position.
At quarterback, Peyton Manning holds the top spot with 258 points. Brady is No. 2 with 250.94 points, followed by Brett Favre (178.84 points), Aaron Rodgers (163.72 points), Johnny Unitas (169.34 points), Joe Montana (153.45 points), Drew Brees (140.5 points), John Elway (137.78 points), Fran Tarkenton (117.28 points), and Dan Marino (116.85 points). While Brady has five more rings than Manning, Manning’s two titles, five MVP awards (compared to Brady’s three) and seven All-Pro selections (compared to three for Brady) gives him a slight edge for the time being. But while Manning’s career is about to be immortalized in Canton, Ohio, Brady can add to his point tally in the coming seasons.
Philip Rivers, who announced his retirement following the Colts’ playoff loss to Buffalo, is actually 12th on Pro Football’s QB Hall of Fame metric with 97.64 points. He’s just behind Steve Young (112.98 points) and ahead of Barr Starr (97.53 points), Matt Ryan (97.43 points), and Ben Roethlisberger. (95.38 points).
Eli Manning, in case you were wondering, is 21st on the list with 83.41 points. While his point tally is well short of the Hall of Fame average, Manning’s ranking is higher than Hall of Famers Joe Namath (82.5 points), Bob Griese (73.45 points), Troy Aikman (64.85 points), and Jim Kelly (59.1 points), among others. He also has more points than current Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (74.2 points).
While Brady can still catch Manning, Rice’s place atop the wide receiver food chain is pretty secure. Rice’s 311.81 points are more than twice as many as the second-ranked receiver, Randy Moss (149.59 points). While Moss’ 23 touchdown catches in 2007 remains a single-season record, Rice’s three rings, 10 All-Pro selections (compared to four for Moss) and 13 Pro Bowls (Moss was a six-time Pro Bowler) put him in a class by himself.
Here’s a look at the top-five players at each position, according to Pro Football Reference’s Hall of Fame Monitor. We’ll also include current players who are close to the average point total for Hall of Famers at their position.
Peyton Manning — 258 points
Tom Brady — 250.94 points
Brett Favre — 178.84 points
Aaron Rodgers — 163.72 points
Johnny Unitas — 160.34 points
Average point tally for HOF quarterbacks: 104
Notable current players: Matt Ryan (97.43 points), Ben Roethlisberger (95.38 points), Russell Wilson (74.20 points)
Walter Payton — 214.91 points
Jim Brown — 182.41 points
Barry Sanders — 178.05 points
Emmitt Smith — 176.30 points
LaDainian Tomlinson — 136.15 points
Average point total for HOF running backs: 107
Notable current players: Adrian Peterson (123.85 points), Frank Gore (100.05 points), LeSean McCoy (83.14 points)
Interesting nugget: Brown led the NFL in rushing for eight of his nine seasons. His 1,863-yard season in 1963 was the most ever at that time.
Jerry Rice — 311.81 points
Randy Moss — 149.59 points
Marvin Harrison — 147.60 points
Larry Fitzgerald — 140.92 points
Terrell Owens — 139.83 points
Average point total for HOF wide receivers: 105
Notable current players: Fitzgerald, Julio Jones (100.82 points), Antonio Brown (98.7 points)
Interesting nugget: In just 12 games, Rice caught 22 touchdown passes in 1987, which stood at the single-season record until Moss caught 23 touchdowns in 2007.
Tony Gonzalez — 196.33 points
Antonio Gates — 113.63 points
Shannon Sharpe — 113.23 points
Dave Casper — 111.62 points
Jason Witten — 105.62 points
Average point total for HOF tight ends: 98
Notable current players: Rob Gronkowski (89.51 points), Travis Kelce (73.16 points)
Interesting nugget: Of the top-five tight ends on this list, only Sharpe and Casper played on Super Bowl-winning teams. Sharpe won back-to-back titles with the Broncos; Casper caught a touchdown pass in the Raiders’ win over Minnesota in Super Bowl XI.
Bruce Matthews — 158.7 points
John Hannah — 153.1 points
Randall McDaniel — 148.75 points
Alan Faneca — 134.23 points
Larry Little — 133.73 points
Average point total for HOF guards: 110
Notable current players: Zack Martin (67.78 points), David DeCastro (44.33 points), Mike Iupati (37.43 points)
Interesting nugget: Five of Matthews’ 14 Pro Bowl selections came at center, as Matthews temporarily switched positions midway through his career.
Anthony Munoz — 160.65 points
Forrest Gregg — 139.5 points
Jim Parker — 121.25 points
Ron Yary — 120.18 points
Willie Roaf — 117.3 points
Average point total for HOF offensive tackle: 101
Notable current players: Jason Peters (89.7 points), Tyron Smith (73 points), Andrew Whitworth (59.65 points)
Interesting nugget: Gregg, a key member of the Packers’ 1960s dynasty, actually coached Munoz in Cincinnati from 1980-83. The duo helped the Bengals reach their first Super Bowl in 1981.
Dermontti Dawson — 128.23 points
Jim Otto — 124.78 points
Mike Webster — 117.6 points
Dwight Stephenson — 111.95 points
Kevin Mawae — 99.05 points
Average point total for HOF centers: 109
Notable current players: **Maurkice Pouncey (73.78 points), Alex Mack (64.58 points), Jason Kelce (51.28 points)
** — Pouncey retired following the 2020 season
Interesting nugget: Dawson succeeded Webster in Pittsburgh following Webster’s departure for Kansas City in 1989. For a 25-year span, the Steelers had a top-five all-time center manning their offensive line.
Bob Lilly — 159.2 points
Alan Page — 157.1 points
Randy White — 142.18 points
Joe Greene — 136.53 points
John Randle — 135.6 points
Average point total for HOF defensive tackles: 114 points
Notable current players: Aaron Donald (127.63 points), Ndamukong Suh (79.98 points), Geno Atkins (75.85 points), Fletcher Cox (71.98 points)
Interesting nugget: Page became the first defensive player to win league MVP in 1971. While he never won league MVP, Greene succeeded Page as Defensive Player of the Year in 1972. He won the honor for a second time in 1974, while also winning the first of four Super Bowls over a six-year span.
Reggie White — 237.75 points
Bruce Smith — 211.35 points
Jack Youngblood — 124.15 points
J.J. Watt — 123.88 points
Michael Strahan — 123.6 points
Average point total for HOF defensive ends: 103
Notable current players: Watt, Calais Campbell (77.58 points), Cameron Jordan (69.1 points), Chandler Jones (62.63 points)
Interesting nugget: The NFL’s first big free agent signee, White helped deliver Green Bay’s first title in 29 years with his three-sack effort in the Packers’ win over the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI.
Ray Lewis — 197.03 points
Mike Singletary — 171 points
Jack Lambert — 151.65 points
Dick Butkus — 128.85 points
Luke Kuechly — 118.4 points
Average point total for HOF inside linebackers: 114
Notable current players: Bobby Wagner (96.68 points), K.J. Wright (35.4 points), Sean Lee (26.5 points)
Interesting nugget: Butkus and Kuechly were not penalized for having relatively short careers. Butkus retired after nine seasons and 119 career games. Kuechly played eight seasons and in 118 regular season games before retiring after the 2019 season.
Lawrence Taylor — 215.68 points
Derrick Brooks — 162.8 points
Jack Ham — 143.7 points
Ted Hendricks — 137.35 points
Junior Seau — 119.58 points
Average point total for outside linebackers: 106
Notable current players: Khalil Mack (83.35 points), Lavonte David (42.45 points), Justin Houston (39.25 points)
Interesting nugget: Taylor joined Page as the NFL’s only defensive league MVPs in 1986. He led the NFL with 20.5 sacks that season while also leading the Giants to their first Super Bowl title.
Rod Woodson — 118.05 points
Deion Sanders — 174.43 points
Ronnie Lott — 173.75 points
Ed Reed — 150.4 points
Willie Wood — 130.73 points
Average point total for Hall of Fame defensive backs: 106
Notable current players: Richard Sherman (79.38 points), Patrick Peterson (78.95 points), Chris Harris Jr. (60.1 points), Stephon Gilmore (57.65 points), Tyrann Mathieu (54.5 points)
Interesting nugget: In 1995, Woodson made NFL history by becoming the first professional athlete to return from reconstructive knee surgery in the same season. Woodson played in Super Bowl XXX after suffering a torn ACL in Week 1.
Morten Anderson — 97.45 points
Adam Vinatieri — 92.7 points
Gary Anderson — 65.9 points
Nick Lowery — 57.63 points
Jan Stenerud — 56.53 points
Average point total for Hall of Fame kickers: 77
Notable curent players: Justin Tucker (45.9 points), Stephen Gostkowski (44.13 points), Robbie Gould (22.58 points)
Interesting nugget: While Vinatieri’s two game-winning field goals are part of NFL lore, Morton Anderson’s game-winning overtime field goal in the 1998 NFC Championship Game gave the Falcons an improbable win over the Vikings and Gary Anderson, who missed a critical 38-yard field goal earlier in the game.
Shane Lechler — 63.68 points
Ray Guy — 52.33 points
Sean Landeta — 47.23 points
Don Chandler — 37.45 points
Johnny Hekker — 30.08 points
Average point total for Hall of Fame Punters: 52
Notable current players: Hekker, Andy Lee (23.5 points), Dustin Colquitt (16.85 points)
Interesting nugget: The first punter inducted in Canton, Guy was selected to seven Pro Bowls during his time with the Raiders. He was the starting punter on each of the Raiders’ three Super Bowl championship teams.