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Will Darren Sproles Be a Hall of Famer?

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CSNPhilly.com

Darren Sproles is the last in our series of stories looking at the Hall of Fame chances of current or recent Eagles who are still active in the NFL.

Friday, July 19: Fletcher Cox
Saturday, July 20: Zach Ertz
Sunday, July 21: DeSean Jackson
Monday, July 22: Jason Kelce
Tuesday, July 23: LeSean McCoy
Wednesday, July 24: Jason Peters

Numbers: 3,486 rushing numbers, 4.9 average, 547 catches, 4,816 yards, 9.6 average with seven touchdowns on punt returns, 25.2 average with two touchdowns on kick returns.

Postseason numbers: Sproles has 298 rushing yards and a 3.9 average with four TDs along with 49 catches for 477 yards and three more TDs. He doesn't have a postseason return touchdown but has averaged 8.1 yards on punt returns and 24.8 bringing back kicks.

Honors: Sproles made the Pro Bowl as a returner his first three years with the Eagles, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Favorite stat: Of the 48 players in NFL history with 3,000 rushing yards and 3,000 receiving yards, Sproles' 4.9 career rushing average is highest.

Records and rankings

• Sproles ranks sixth in NFL history with 19,520 all-purpose yards. He trails only Jerry Rice (23,546), former Eagle Brian Mitchell (23,330), Walter Payton (21,803), Emmitt Smith (21,564) and Tim Brown (19,682). All are Hall of Famers except Mitchell.

• Sproles' 4.9 average is 15th highest in NFL history among running backs with at least 500 carries.

• Sproles' seven career punt return TDs (four with the Eagles) are tied for seventh most in NFL history.

• His nine combined punt and kick returns are tied for sixth most in NFL history behind Devin Hester (19), Mitchell (13), Dante Hall (12), Eric Metcalf (12) and Josh Cribbs (11).

• Sproles led the NFL in punt return average for the Eagles in 2014 at 13.0 yards per return.

• Sproles had two punt returns TDs in 2014 and two more in 2015, leading the NFL both years.

• Sproles' 547 catches are 12th most in NFL history by a running back and just 19 out of the top 10.

• Of the 17 running backs in NFL history with 500 catches, Sproles' 4.9 rushing average is second highest, behind only Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell (5.3).

• Sproles and Deion Sanders are the only players in NFL history with at least four punt return TDs in their 30s.

Analysis 

There's never been another player like Darren Sproles. He's 5-foot-6. For him to rank sixth in NFL history in total yards at 5-6 is totally insane. Nobody else 5-6 has ever had half as many yards. Only 14 other guys that size have even had 600 yards in their career.

There's never been a pure returner inducted into the Hall of Fame. Devin Hester and Mitchell would be the top candidates, but their offensive numbers are nowhere near Sproles' numbers.

Sproles had 8,302 yards as a runner and receiver on top of everything he did as a returner. That's what really sets him apart. Hester had less than 3,500 and B-Mitch had just over 4,300.

I'm not sure the Hall of Fame voters will ever take into consideration everything Sproles did. He doesn't have the rushing yards or receiving numbers to be a Hall of Famer, and as a returner he falls a little short of the best ever.

But put it all together and factor in his size and ability to block at a high level at 5-6, 190 pounds, and you can make a pretty compelling case.

It might take him some time, but …

Verdict: Will be a Hall of Famer.

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