If confidence is something the voters will consider, then yes, Fred Taylor is going into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot. Fred Taylor told Pete Prisco on WFXJ (via Sports Radio Interviews) that he believes he's Canton-bound:
The numbers I put up -- I do think that the body of work speaks for itself. Regardless of them trying to say well he doesn't have enough Pro Bowls on his belt or he doesn't have a certain amount of stats. He played in a small market. I think that is all shut up and those are all excuses. I am going to make it Pete. I'm going to make it.
All right, then. Let's take a look at that body of work.
In career rushing yards, Fred Taylor ranks an impressive 15th all time. There are three players ahead of Taylor on that list who aren't in the Hall of Fame, because they have yet to be eligible -- Jerome Bettis, LaDainian Tomlinson and Edgerrin James. Curtis Martin, the NFL's fourth all-time leading rusher, was denied in this, his first year of eligibility.
That's about the only statistical category where Taylor really shines. He's good in others -- 32nd all time in rushing TDs, 21st all time in rushing yards per game, 25th all time in yards from scrimmage, 22nd all time in touches -- but nothing that makes you say, "Those are definitely Hall of Fame numbers."
What hurts Taylor worse than anything else, though, is his lack of Pro Bowl appearances. He only made one. Not that the Pro Bowl should be taken as the end-all, be-all, but when there was only one year that Fred Taylor was thought to be even among the best in his conference, that's not good.
He also comes up empty in Super Bowls or big playoff games that drew national attention. Not that that's his fault, but things like that can help boost a guy's legacy.
Unfortunately, I just don't see it happening for Taylor. If Curtis Martin isn't a first-ballot guy, then Fred Taylor probably isn't a third- or fourth-ballot guy. No question, he was a great running back, and arguably the greatest Jacksonville Jaguar of all time, but as far as the Hall of Fame goes, I just don't think the impact was there. I hope I'm wrong.