Study: Which Steelers Are Closest To Canton?

Who is the next Steeler to be enshrined into Canton? James Harrison will be eligible next season. Maurkice Pouncey in 2026. And Ben Roethlisberger in 2027. So what are the odds of them, or anyone else, making their way into Canton?

Roethlisberger is a shoe-in to make it, likely on the first ballot, but beyond that, we don’t know how to evaluate the future. This is a vote by people, not a scientific, calculated process. But Pro Football Reference, our go-to for all things stats, does its best to assign Hall of Fame value with their HOF Monitor for each position.

Introduced in 2019, it uses data like seasons, games played/started, Pro Bowls and All-Pro appearances to spit out a Hall of Fame number. The higher, the better. So let’s look at key names, mostly recent ones, and see where they stack up.

Ben Roethlisberger – Hall of Fame Score: 100.3

The player on this list with the best, almost unquestioned odds of making it into Canton, Ohio. His Hall of Fame score comes in just over 100 and nearly matches the average for the position (109). In fact, it’s really at or above that middle mark. Tom Brady (259.3) and Peyton Manning (257.8) skew this group pretty heavily. They’re part of the data set, of course, and it’s not like you can wave them away, but they’re head and shoulders above third place, Brett Favre at 180, so that context is important.

Brady, of course, will be part of that 2027 class along with Roethlisberger. Assuming he doesn’t unretire.

Antonio Brown – Hall of Fame Score: 104

On paper, Brown has a tremendous, Hall of Fame resume. He is the one player on this list above the Hall of Fame average of 104 despite Jerry Rice swaying that number way up with his whopping 312 Hall of Fame score, the highest of any player ever. AB has a higher HOF score than the likes of Isaac Bruce, Michael Irvin, Art Monk, even Calvin Johnson. Brown’s situation is complicated in small part to receivers tending to wait and in large part due to his on and off the field antics, making him an interesting case study whenever he becomes eligible. My suspicion is he’ll have to wait at least two or three years and won’t get in first ballot.

Hines Ward – Hall of Fame Score: 74.2

Ward is well under the average for the position, but again, Rice’s numbers skew things heavily, more than 150 points ahead of second-place Randy Moss (150.1). Ward’s score is solid but below names like Del Shofner, Anquan Boldin, and Andre Johnson. Ward has yet to become a finalist for the Hall and is behind an endless stream of names that will stack up as the years go by. His Hall of Fame chances seem dim. Ward’s best odds are to make it via the Senior Committee a decade from now.

Maurkice Pouncey – Hall of Fame Score: 75.2

Another name in a long list of great Steelers’ centers, Pouncey’s number is well below the Hall of Fame average of 103, though only four centers are in triple-digits (Dirt Dawson is at the top at 123.5). Pouncey has the seventh-highest center score in PFR’s Index, and the six ahead of him all have gold jackets. On the downside, Pouncey has a near-identical HOF score as Jeff Saturday, and he’s yet to come close to Canton glory. Center, guards, really offensive linemen in general take a long time to get in, Alan Faneca proved that, so Pouncey’s odds probably don’t look great here. Still, there is a chance he gets in. Just expect him to wait, too.

David DeCastro – Hall of Fame Score: 46.1

DeCastro was an excellent player for the Steelers, but don’t expect him to wind up in the Hall. He was a first-team All-Pro just twice, and very few guards with that on their resume have ended up in Canton. DeCastro’s HOF score is below names like Chris Snee, Brian Waters, and Pitt product Bill Fralic. Unless he makes an incredible comeback to the league, his odds are extremely long and the worst on this list.

James Harrison – Hall of Fame Score: 74.4

For a time, Harrison was as dominant a defender as there was in the league, and though I’m biased, I consider him Hall of Fame material. His score is solid, though below the 106 average, which is skewed heavily by Lawrence Taylor’s lapping of the field with a 222.6 score. Harrison’s score is a respectable 15th of outside linebackers.

But pass rushers seem to take time to get into the Hall. Demarcus Ware and his 138.5 sacks seemed like a lock to get in this year in a weak class but his name wasn’t called. Even Michael Strahan bizarrely waited two years to get enshrined, and both players have better resumes than Harrison’s. Harrison could get in but it won’t be a quick path.

T.J. Watt – Hall of Fame Score: 40.9

Finishing out the list with two active Steelers. Watt’s current score isn’t impressive right now, but he has and will continue to climb the charts. If he can increase his score by just ten points per year, he’ll be in Hall of Fame territory statistically by the time he’s 30. But those watching his play and dominance understand how incredible Watt is and he’s quickly on a Hall of Fame track. Just needs to play a little more to check that longevity box.

Cam Heyward – Hall of Fame Score: 56.9

The average score for defensive ends, which is how Heyward is classified on PFR (the Steelers and league recognizes him as a DT) is 105. Reggie White and Bruce Smith are doing the heavy-lifting here, though. Heyward is making a late surge, racking up Pro Bowls and Hall of Fame bids with his switch from DE to DT. If you’re wondering though, the average DT Hall of Fame score is 110 so that path isn’t much easier. He is just in a highly competitive field.

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