Let me cut directly to the chase. Devin Hester is going to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. That's not official or anything. It's just my prediction. But I predicted Peyton Manning, Calvin Johnson and Charles Woodson would get into the Hall of Fame last year. So I think I know what I'm talking about.
The momentum is building around Hester, the extraordinary return man who boasts a record 19 career return TDs in his 11-year career, most of which he spent in Chicago (2006-2013) with other stops in Atlanta (2014-15), Baltimore (2016) and Seattle (2016). It once seemed like it was a bit controversial, but it feels more universally accepted. I was watching Michael Robinson and James Jones talk about Hester being a Hall of Famer on NFL Network's Total Access on Tuesday night. Everyone was in agreement that Hester was the best player at his position of all time (sorry, Billy "White Shoes" Johnson) and being the best at your position does provide you some perks.
We won't know officially until NFL Honors, which airs live Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on ABC. But I'm making my call right now that Hester gets a gold jacket this year. With Hester being my first pick, here are four other modern-era finalists who I predict will be included in the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2022.
DeMarcus Ware, DE
2005-2013 Dallas Cowboys, 2014-2016 Denver Broncos
Ware checks a lot of boxes for being a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He's top 10 all time in sacks with 138.5. He's twice led the league in the category and had double-digit sacks in eight different seasons. Ware was also a key member of the Broncos' defense that led the team to a victory in Super Bowl 50. I'm not saying that it's an overwhelming résumé for a first-ballot guy, but in a class without huge stars -- outside of Hester -- there is a good chance he will go in.
Torry Holt, WR
1999-2008 St. Louis Rams, 2009 Jacksonville Jaguars
There is run on wide receivers and the field got a bit more crowded this year with Andre Johnson joining Holt and Reggie Wayne on the modern-era finalists list. This feels like it's going to be Torry's time to get in. In my view, he was the most feared wide receiver on that Greatest Show on Turf team. Holt would join teammates Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk in Canton.
Richard Seymour, DE/DT
New England Patriots, 2001-08, Oakland Raiders, 2009-2012
The Patriots dynasty still feels underrepresented in the Hall of Fame. I mean, that should change in five years when Tom Brady is inducted (unless they want to reverse this five-year limit for induction or he decides he wants to play again, which is something he didn't completely dismiss). But in the meantime, it seems like a perfect opportunity to recognize some of the early members of the Patriots dynasty -- especially since, in my opinion, Julian Edelman is for sure getting in soon.
Tony Boselli, OT
1995-2001 Jacksonville Jaguars, 2002 Houston Texans (injured reserve)
I feel like I write this every year (I'm not checking), but they really need to make a call on Boselli. He's a finalist every year. At some point they need to make a decision on whether he's getting in or not. There is no doubt Boselli was one of the best at his position in NFL history. The knock has been the length of his career. But it hasn't stopped other candidates who also had brief careers (SEE: Terrell Davis). I'm predicting this is finally the year.