Carter, Dent, Randle and the HOF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- There appear to be only two locks this year for the 2010 class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, set to be announced Saturday. Based on informal conversations during this Super Bowl hype week, there is little doubt that receiver Jerry Rice and running back Emmitt Smith will get elected.

By definition, that means the three finalists with NFC North ties are on the bubble. So with a little more than 24 hours left until the 5 p.m. ET (Saturday) announcement, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each player’s candidacy. In alphabetical order:

Cris Carter

Key qualification: When he retired after the 2002 season, he ranked second on the NFL’s all-time list of receptions (1,101) and touchdowns (130).

Working against him: Receivers historically have a tougher time than other positions, and Rice is already a lock. There are currently 20 receivers in the Hall of Fame, less than running backs (25), quarterbacks (23), offensive linemen (34) and defensive linemen (27).

Richard Dent

Key qualification: When he retired after the 1995 season, his 137.5 sacks ranked third all-time in the NFL, thanks in part to a run of five consecutive seasons with 10 or more sacks.

Working against him: From a statistical standpoint, there’s nothing to argue against here. Dent was a Hall of Fame player. In recent years, however, he seems to have fallen victim to competing against other 100-sack players like Fred Dean, Bruce Smith and John Randle. This year, Charles Haley will be added to that list. Sometimes those players cancel each other out in the eyes of some voters.

John Randle

Key qualification: Had more sacks (131) between the years 1991-2002 than any other NFL player.

Working against him: Has the exact career sack total as Dent (137.5), which means he falls in the same category: A player with Hall of Fame sack totals competing against others with similar qualifications. Not everyone gets in.