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2011 NFL Hall Of Fame Finalists Announced Tonight: Deion Sanders, Marshall Faulk This Year's Surest Bets

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2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees will be announced (not inducted!) tonight at 7 pm EST on NFL Network. Between four and seven inductees will be announced tonight, then officially join the Hall in August. Here are all of this year’s finalists:

Who’s going to make it in?

Jerome Bettis: There’s the “If Jerome Bettis is a Hall of Famer, then so is Corey Dillon” camp, and then there’s the “RINGS” camp. Bettis had an amazing career, but he’s the least-deserving of this year’s sure things and likely this year’s least-deserving inductee.

Marshall Faulk: Automatic, and deserved.

Deion Sanders: Same.

Who’ll probably make it in?

Tim Brown: The second-greatest wide receiver of the previous era does not have anywhere near the ongoing TV presence of his primary Hall of Fame rival, Cris Carter. It would be a surprise to see both of them make it in, especially with two running backs guaranteed to go in, which would create a skill position overload that even Hall of Fame voters should be uncomfortable with.

Cris Carter: Carter deserves to be in the Hall, but not at the expense of Brown. Carter was never dominant — he was very good for a long time, and if that’s our standard, Willie Roaf must be inducted long before Carter.

Willie Roaf: The second- or third-biggest no-brainer on the entire list, but he played offensive line. An 11-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro despite playing most of his career for the New Orleans Saints ( and that’s before the Saints got media love, mind you), Roaf deserves to be a first-balloter.

Also Dermontti Dawson, Chris Hanburger, Curtis Martin, and Shannon Sharpe.

Who’s got a decent shot?

Richard Dent, Chris Doleman, and Ed Sabol.

Who are the longshots?

Charles Haley, Cortez Kennedy, Andre Reed, and Les Richter.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.