For the 11th straight year the Patriots Hall of Fame Nomination Committee gathered to discuss this year's potential candidates and as usual there was some interesting debate. First-time eligible and senior candidates generally elicit the most discussion, and 2017 was no exception.
First, the 10-man Senior Committee discussed Raymond Clayborn and Leon Gray, who between them have five nominations to their credit. Clayborn has been a finalist the last three years while Gray earned the distinction in 2013 and again in 2015.
Neither player was able to garner the eight votes necessary for induction, however, so each was among the nine nominations put forth by the committee.
We are not permitted to disclose the details of the conversations that take place but we are able to reveal the three individuals we choose as finalists.
Richard Seymour was eligible for the first time and received some passionate discussion. The seven-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro is certainly worthy of consideration and the 2001 sixth overall pick out of Georgia was easily my top selection.
My other two picks weren't as simple. Matt Light, Mike Vrabel and Rodney Harrison all were nominated, and the two senior candidates certainly deserved consideration as well.
Vrabel's versatility and leadership made him my second choice, and my final pick came down to the seniors. Both players are worthy but I felt Clayborn's longevity – he was a standout from 1977-89 – pushed him past Gray for the final spot.
But that was just one man's ballot. The Patriots will reveal the three finalists and fan voting will begin April 20 on Patriots.com and run through May 15.