- Nick Wagoner, ESPN Staff Writer
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EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame class was announced Saturday night and to the surprise of many, none of the players who spent the majority of their careers with the St. Louis or Los Angeles Rams made it in.
Sure, running back Jerome Bettis qualified, but he was not long for the team that drafted him and played his defining years with the Pittsburgh Steelers. But former Rams legends such as Orlando Pace, Kurt Warner and Kevin Greene came up short and receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce didn't even make the list of finalists.
With that in mind, it's never too early to begin looking at how things might shake out in 2016. We wrap up the series with a look at the two receivers who didn't make the list of 15 finalists in 2015 but could be further in the mix next year.
Why they missed: Put simply, there's a backlog of wide receivers and this year's ballot was already teeming with former Rams. With Pace, Warner and Greene going through to the 15 and Marvin Harrison and Tim Brown holdovers at receiver from previous years, neither Holt nor Bruce made the cut from 25 to 15. Almost since the days Holt and Bruce retired, it's been widely accepted that the Hall of Fame would have a logjam at receiver, and it would only get worse in the years after they join the ballot. Brown vs. Harrison was apparently one of the hottest debates among the voters this year, and Brown eventually got the nod.
Why they should go: In 223 career games, Bruce posted 1,024 receptions (eighth all time) for 15,208 yards (fourth) and 91 touchdowns (11th) on his way to four Pro Bowl appearances. Bruce never earned a spot as a first team All Pro, but there were certainly seasons (especially 1995) in which he deserved it but was denied because of his under-the-radar personality.
Holt was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, was first team All Pro in 2003 and second team in 2006. For his career, Holt finished with 920 catches for 13,382 yards and 74 touchdowns. He also holds the NFL records for most consecutive seasons with 90 catches and 1,300 receiving yards, marks he hit six straight times in the early 2000s. He's one of only three receivers, along with Marvin Harrison and Calvin Johnson to have two or more seasons with 1,600 receiving yards. He also holds the NFL record for most receiving yards in a decade, posting 12,594 from 2000 to 2009. His career average of 77.4 receiving yards per game is sixth all-time but No. 1 amongst players who aren't still active.
How it looks for 2016: Not too promising. Harrison remains on the ballot, and it would seem he's now at the head of the line for receivers but Bruce, Holt and Harrison will be joined by Terrell Owens on the 2016 ballot, which figures to further complicate matters. In terms of pure numbers, Owens might have a better argument than even Harrison so it's not out of the realm of possibility he could go in on the first try. More likely, Harrison goes next year and things trickle down from there. The problem for Bruce and Holt is that even if Harrison gets in, that leaves Owens to deal with the following year plus the forthcoming additions to the ballot of Hines Ward (2017) and Randy Moss (2018).