The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced that 129 modern-era players were nominated for the class of 2023, and the Patriots are well represented in the first round of nominations.
There are 24 nominees who once donned a Patriots uniform in their NFL careers, and a handful identify as Patriot legends. Those legends include 2022 Patriots Hall of Famer Vince Wilfork, Rodney Harrison, Willie McGinest, Tedy Bruschi, Troy Brown, Logan Mankins, Wes Welker, Corey Dillon, Ben Coates, and Asante Samuel.
Along with 2021 inductee Richard Seymour, Wilfork was named a semifinalist in his first year on the ballot last November. Although he didn't make the cut in 2021, Harrison was a semifinalist for the 2020 class.
With Wilfork's Patriots Hall of Fame induction taking place this Saturday at Gillette Stadium, the hulking defensive tackle was a two-time Super Bowl champion and a five-time Pro Bowler in New England. Although Wilfork's role in the defense didn't produce gaudy statistics, true football junkies understand his value as a block-eating, two-gapping defensive lineman. They would also take notice of the 325-pounders versatility to rush from multiple alignments on the D-Line, not just over the center.
After Seymour was enshrined as a member of the 2021 Hall of Fame class, voters are beginning to understand the value that Patriots defensive linemen brought to New England's dynasty in a defense that was more about the team approach than putting up huge numbers.
If that continues to be the case and being named a semifinalist is a good first step, then Wilfork has a chance to continue in the process towards another Patriot enshrined in Canton.
As for Harrison, the 2000s All-Decade team member was with the Patriots for two Super Bowl championships and is the only defensive back in NFL history with 30 sacks and 30 interceptions. Harrison's 30.5 sacks, including nine with the Patriots, are also an NFL record for a defensive back. Despite a fantastic resume, Harrison has not yet received the support he deserves among the Hall of Fame voters.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick made a case for Harrison during a press conference last season where Belichick said the former Pats safety belongs in the same category as Seymour and Wilfork.
"The only thing I would add relative to those two players, to Vince and to Richard Seymour, I think that Rodney Harrison 100 percent (belongs) in that conversation," Belichick said. "I've coached some of the other safeties that have been enshrined in the Hall of Fame, and not taking anything away from them, but certainly Rodney Harrison belongs in that conversation, and he belongs in the conversation with other players that are already there."
Lastly, as one of nine players in their first year of eligibility, former Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis is among the favorites to headline the class of 2022. Revis won Super Bowl XLIX in his lone season with the Patriots and was a first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowler in 2014.
After signing with the Patriots as a free agent, Revis was one of the best cover corners of his era and arguably the missing piece to end a ten-year Super Bowl drought in New England.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame will trim the list to 25 semifinalists in November before cutting it down to the 15 finalists in early January.