The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018 will be chosen from a group of players that includes high-profile players eligible for the first time, including former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and former Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss.
Lewis’ and Moss’ Hall of Fame fate likely will depend on how the votes fall between two positions in particular where finalists are clustered.
The class of '18 will be chosen by the Hall's board of selectors in Minneapolis on Saturday, when 15 modern-era finalists will be pared to a maximum of five to be enshrined.
This year’s finalists include four players in their first year of eligibility: Moss, Lewis, linebacker Brian Urlacher and guard Steve Hutchinson. The finalists also include offensive linemen Tony Boselli, Alan Faneca, Joe Jacoby and Kevin Mawae as well as four defensive backs (Brian Dawkins, John Lynch, Ty Law and Everson Walls). So, how the votes are distributed could well impact how the final group looks.
There also are two positions where two players of the highest profile are among finalists: wide receiver with Terrell Owens and Moss, and linebacker with Lewis and Urlacher.
Only five of the 15 finalists can be chosen and it takes 80 percent "yes" votes for enshrinement, so players at the same position often split the voting in unexpected ways.
At Saturday’s meeting, the list of modern-era finalists will be trimmed to 10 and then to five.
The remaining five finalists are chosen on a yes-or-no basis.
The seniors (Robert Brazile and Jerry Kramer) and contributor (Bobby Beathard) nominees are voted on separately from the modern-era finalists and are considered on a yes-or-no basis.
Here’s a closer look at the finalists for the class of 2018:
Tackle, 1995-2001, Jacksonville Jaguars
His career was cut short by shoulder injuries, but Boselli was a five-time Pro Bowl selection in his seven seasons and is the first HOF finalist who played his entire career with the Jaguars.
Wide receiver, 1994-2007, Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams; 2008-2009, San Francisco 49ers
Bruce was a four-time Pro Bowl selection who had eight 1,000-yard seasons. Finished with 1,165 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Rams' "Greatest Show on Turf" Super Bowl winner to close out the 1999 season. Had a 61-catch season in 2008 at age 36.
Safety, 1996-2008, Philadelphia Eagles; 2009-2011, Denver Broncos
Dawkins was a heart-and-soul player for an Eagles team that advanced to the NFC Championship Game four consecutive times, and he played in Super Bowl XXXIX. He was selected to nine Pro Bowls and is on a short list of players who had at least 35 interceptions and 20 sacks.
This is the third time Faneca has been a HOF finalist. He was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection and was named to the all-decade team of the 2000s. Faneca blocked for 1,000-yard rushers nine times, including Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis.
Hutchinson is in his first year of eligibility and has been named a finalist. He started 16 games in a season eight times, was named to seven Pro Bowls and was a five-time All-Pro selection. Was named to the all-2000s team.
Tackle, 1981-1993, Washington Redskins
Jacoby has been a finalist for three consecutive seasons. Part of the signature "Hogs," the offensive line that fueled Joe Gibbs' Redskins offenses, Jacoby was a four-time Pro Bowl selection. The Redskins finished among the league's top nine offenses 10 times during Jacoby's career.
He was the league's rushing champion twice, and he reached 10,000 scrimmage yards faster than any player in history. In addition to his rushing totals, he had five seasons with at least 51 catches.
He was a five-time Pro Bowl selection who played for three Patriots teams that won the Super Bowl. A 14-year starter at cornerback, he finished with 53 interceptions -- the same total as Hall of Famer Deion Sanders. Law was at his best in the postseason with six interceptions.
Linebacker, 1996-2012, Baltimore Ravens
The 13-time Pro Bowl selection is in his first year of eligibility. He was a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and a Super Bowl MVP when the Ravens closed the 2000 season with the title -- the first of two Super Bowl winners Lewis played on. He started 227 games and was credited with eight 100-tackle seasons.
Safety, 1993-2003, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; 2004-2007, Denver Broncos
A feared tackler who was often celebrated and fined by the league for some of his hits. The San Francisco 49ers general manager was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection. Four of those selections came during his four seasons with the Broncos after he had neck surgery following his final season with Tampa Bay. Hall of Famer Tony Dungy has called Lynch the prototype at the position in Dungy's Tampa 2 defense.
Center/guard, 1994-1997, Seattle Seahawks; 1998-2005, New York Jets; 2006-2009, Tennessee Titans
This is Mawae's second time as a finalist. He was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection, and in eight of his 16 seasons, his offenses finished in the top five in rushing. Bill Parcells has been one of Mawae's biggest supporters, having said Mawae could move, pull and make blocks other centers couldn't make.
Moss is in his first year of eligibility and is second all time in touchdown receptions with 156. He finished with eight seasons with at least 1,200 yards receiving and seven with at least 70 catches. He was a six-time Pro Bowl selection who averaged at least 15 yards per reception in eight of his 16 seasons.
Owens had five 1,200-yard receiving seasons. Owens is currently second all time in receiving yards (15,934) and third in touchdown catches (153), behind only Moss and Hall of Famer Jerry Rice.
Linebacker, 2000-2012, Chicago Bears
Urlacher is in his first year of eligibility and finished his career with the Bears as an eight-time Pro Bowl selection. A former college safety and punt returner who evolved into one of the league's most athletic defensive players, he was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2005 and a member of the all-decade team of the 2000s.
Walls is in the final year as a modern-era finalist, so if he is not enshrined this year, he will move into the seniors category, which is a far more difficult path to Canton. Walls somehow went undrafted and entered the league as a rookie free agent despite leading the nation in interceptions, with 11, in his last year at Grambling. Walls, who has never been a Hall finalist, finished with 57 interceptions, leading the league three times.
Linebacker, 1975-1984, Houston Oilers
Brazile was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection and was named first-team All Pro four times. He also was named to the all-decade team for the 1970s. Brazile was lauded for his combination of size, speed and strength at the position after he was the sixth pick of the 1975 draft.
Guard, 1958-1968, Green Bay Packers
Kramer was the only guard selected for the NFL's 50th anniversary team, yet his time as a modern-era finalist came and went without Kramer being enshrined in Canton. He was a first-team All-Pro five times and played on five NFL championship teams and two Super Bowl winners.
Beathard's teams won 10 division titles and four Super Bowls -- two with the Washington Redskins and two with the Miami Dolphins. The 1972 Dolphins were the only team to finish a championship season undefeated.