The list of 2022 Hall of Fame semifinalists has been released, and NFL fans can see some familiar names such as Steve Smith and Devin Hester up for induction.
Looking at such a list makes it easy to imagine current players who are on a path toward Hall of Fame induction. But let's take it a step further and consider NFL players who are not only on the path to enshrinement, but who are on course to get in on their first ballot.
Here are five current NFL players who should be locked in for the Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility.
Future first-ballot NFL Hall of Famers
#5 - Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers is one of the best players to ever play in the NFL. The Green Bay Packers quarterback is a three-time NFL MVP with a Super Bowl victory to his name. For a quarterback, that is everything. He was also the MVP of the Super Bowl game.
In addition, Rodgers is a four-time All-Pro and is not slowing down at all with age. He threw for a remarkable 48 touchdowns last season. If he wants to, he may pull a Tom Brady and play well into his 40s. If he does that, with the extra game added to the schedule, he may chase several all-time records. He just needs Brady to retire and stop upping the all-time totals.
Rodgers is 10th all-time in passing yards and will only continue to rise up that list as his career continues. He could retire today and still have a first-ballot career on his résumé. Winning one more Super Bowl, whether in Green Bay or elsewhere, will truly cement his legacy and make the Hall of Fame an obvious part of it.
#4 - Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams
Aaron Donald has had a legendary career, and he is only in his eighth season with the Los Angeles Rams. The dominant defender has made seven Pro Bowls and six All-Pro teams. He is on pace to achieve both feats again in 2021.
Donald is also a three-time Defensive Player of the Year and is already at 91.5 sacks for his career. He is probably not going to challenge Bruce Smith's mark of 200. However, he did have 20.5 sacks back in 2018, so another huge year like that will change the narrative of what Donald can achieve in his career.
Making six consecutive First-Team All-Pro teams is just mind-blowing. Donald has shown no signs of slowing down. He entered the league as a star and is continuing to play at an all-time elite level. Once his career is over, he will be a lock to go in on his first ballot. A simple look at his NFL résumé tells the full story without digging any deeper.