One of the main narratives following last season's Super Bowl 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.
While most everyone had already conceded the title of GOAT to Brady, Pro Football Reference did not officially give him the title ... that is, until the conclusion of the 2021 regular season. 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.
Peyton Manning entered the 2021 season as the highest-ranked quarterback in league history with with 257.8 points. Brady was No. 2 with 250.94 points, followed by Brett Favre (179.96 points), Aaron Rodgers (174.76 points), Johnny Unitas (160.27 points), Joe Montana (154.17 points), Drew Brees (140.58 points), John Elway (138.66 points), Fran Tarkenton (116.55 points), and Dan Marino (117.02 points). Brady has since passed Manning with 259.32 points after leading the NFL this season with 5,316 yards and 43 touchdowns.
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Three members of the NFL's hallowed 2004 NFL Draft class are in the top 20 of PFF's Hall of Fame Monitor. Ben Roethlisberger, who is expected to make his retirement official at some point this offseason, finished his career ranked No. 13 on the list with 100.28 points. Roethlisberger is one spot behind Matt Ryan, who is the third-highest ranked active quarterback on the list behind Brady and Rodgers.
Philip Rivers, who retired following the Colts' playoff loss to Buffalo after the 2020 regular season, is 14th on Pro Football's QB Hall of Fame metric with 98.06 points. He's just behind Steve Young (111.65 points) and ahead of Barr Starr (97.93 points).
Eli Manning, the first quarterback selected in the '04 Draft, is 20th on the list with 85.01 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 points), Troy Aikman (64.28 points), and Jim Kelly (59.1 points), among others. He also has more points than current Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (78.79 points).
While Brady has caught Manning, Rice's place atop the wide receiver food chain is pretty secure. Rice's 311.99 points are more than twice as many as the second-ranked receiver, Randy Moss (150.12 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.
Tom Brady -- 259.32 points
Peyton Manning -- 258.8 points
Brett Favre -- 179.96 points
Aaron Rodgers -- 174.76 points
Johnny Unitas -- 160.27 points
Average point tally for HOF quarterbacks: 100
Notable current players: Matt Ryan (102.6 points), Ben Roethlisberger (100.28 points), Russell Wilson (78.79 points)
Walter Payton -- 214.61 points
Jim Brown -- 182.79 points
Barry Sanders -- 177.55 points
Emmitt Smith -- 176.48 points
LaDainian Tomlinson -- 136.5 points
Average point total for HOF running backs: 107
Notable current players: Adrian Peterson (125.52 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 -- 311.99 points
Randy Moss -- 150.12 points
Marvin Harrison -- 147.18 points
Larry Fitzgerald -- 141.09 points
Terrell Owens -- 140.53 points
Average point total for HOF wide receivers: 105
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 -- 195.43 points
Shannon Sharpe -- 114.25
Antonio Gates -- 113.63 points
Dave Casper -- 111.62 points
Jason Witten -- 104.72 points
Average point total for HOF tight ends: 98
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 -- 155.13 points
Randall McDaniel -- 147.53
John Hannah -- 144.48 points
Alan Faneca -- 134.33 points
Larry Allen -- 129.29
Average point total for HOF guards: 106
Notable current players: Zack Martin (80.43 points)
Interesting nugget: Five of Matthews' 14 Pro Bowl selections came at center, as Matthews temporarily switched positions midway through his career.
Anthony Munoz -- 155.53 points
Forrest Gregg -- 133.25 points
Jim Parker -- 116.95 points
Willie Roaf -- 114.43 points
Joe Thomas -- 112.48
Average point total for HOF offensive tackle: 95
Dermontti Dawson -- 123.5 points
Jim Otto -- 116.43 points
Mike Webster -- 111.20 points
Dwight Stephenson -- 107.58 points
Kevin Mawae -- 98.53 points
Average point total for HOF centers: 103
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.
Alan Page -- 169.88 points
Bob Lilly -- 159.35 points
Randy White -- 143.68 points
Joe Greene -- 137.65 points
Aaron Donald -- 137.1 points
Average point total for HOF defensive tackles: 116 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 -- 239.73 points
Bruce Smith -- 213.75 points
Jack Youngblood -- 133.03 points
Deacon Jones -- 128.88 points
J.J. Watt -- 126 points
Average point total for HOF defensive ends: 105
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 -- 197.35 points
Mike Singletary -- 171.28 points
Jack Lambert -- 158.8 points
Dick Butkus -- 128.05 points
Luke Kuechly -- 118.45 points
Average point total for HOF inside linebackers: 114
Notable current players: Bobby Wagner (101.03 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 -- 222.55 points
Derrick Brooks -- 164.5points
Jack Ham -- 141.68 points
Ted Hendricks -- 136.2points
Junior Seau -- 121.98 points
Average point total for outside linebackers: 106
Notable current players: Khalil Mack (84.75 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 -- 117.63 points
Deion Sanders -- 171.03 points
Ronnie Lott -- 165.98 points
Ed Reed -- 148.53 points
Charles Woodson -- 125.45
Average point total for Hall of Fame defensive backs: 100
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 (51.8 points1
Interesting nugget: While Vinatieri's two game-winning field goals are part of NFL lore, Morten 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 -- 31.03 points
Average point total for Hall of Fame Punters: 52
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.