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Four named Pro Football Hall of Fame 2016 class semifinalists

Four former Broncos—RB Terrell Davis, S Steve Atwater, S John Lynch, LB Karl Mecklenburg—have once again been named as semifinalists for a Pro Football Hall of Fame class, repeating the results of 2015.

Cornerback Ty Law, a Bronco for a year, also was selected as a semifinalist.

Out of 108 nominees, the Hall of Fame Selection Committee whittled the list down to 25 players. Only six of the 25 are defensive players, meaning half of the list spent significant portions of their career in Denver, and four of the six spent at least a year in Denver.

Phil Milani of Broncos TV captured moments from the drafted rookies Pro Football Hall of Fame visit during the NFL Rookie Symposium.

This marks Davis' 10th year as a semifinalist, Atwater's fifth, Lynch's fourth and Mecklenburg's fifth.

The list will be reduced to 15 modern-era finalists on Jan. 5, and the Class of 2016 will be selected on Jan. 31, 2016.

These four former Broncos have the potential of joining already-enshrined teammates quarterback John Elway (2004), tackle Gary Zimmerman (2008), running back Floyd Little (2010) and tight end Shannon Sharpe (2011).

DenverBroncos.com analyst Andrew Mason broke down the arguments for each Broncos semifinalist in September when the list of nominees was released:

RB TERRELL DAVIS (1995-2002)

Worth noting:Eleven men have won Super Bowl and NFL MVP awards. Six of the eight who are eligible for the Hall of Fame are enshrined: Bart Starr, Roger Staubach, Terry Bradshaw, John Elway, Joe Montana and Steve Young. Davis and fellow nominee Kurt Warner are the notable exceptions to this. (Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers are also in the Super Bowl/NFL MVP club, but none are eligible for induction.) Davis is also the only non-quarterback on this list.

Davis' problem is a short career span, even though he had a stretch where he was clearly the best at what he did. It's why the process of Hall of Fame evaluation can't lean on fixed standards and milestones, but must be variable to account for factors beyond the player's control, like injuries. The fact that Davis has made it into the selection room as a finalist last year helps his cause.

S STEVE ATWATER (1989-98)

Worth noting:Atwater is one of the two first-team All-1990's safeties (along with Green Bay's LeRoy Butler) and made the Pro Bowl in eight of his 11 NFL seasons, including a final 1999 season with the New York Jets. Atwater, like Davis, has seen his case hurt by a relatively short career span, but played at a Pro Bowl level in 72.7 percent of his seasons and started in three Super Bowls.

S JOHN LYNCH (2004-07)

**

See snapshots from the careers of Karl Mecklenburg, Steve Atwater, Terrell Davis, John Lynch and Ty Law.

Worth noting: **Every eligible defensive back with at least nine Pro Bowl selections -- as Lynch had in his 15-season career, 11 of which came with Tampa Bay -- is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That's an impressive tally made even more notable when considering that Lynch had limited college experience at safety and did not become a full-time starter until his fourth NFL season. That was in part due to the steep learning curve the former Stanford quarterback and then-Florida Marlins farm-system pitcher faced in moving to defense.

His years on a Buccaneers defense of the late 1990s and early 2000s that is arguably one of the best units in recent NFL history also help his cause. He was a finalist last year and given the underrepresentation of safeties, could have some momentum for induction.

LB KARL MECKLENBURG (1983-94)

Worth noting:According to the numbers kept by Pro-Football-Reference.com, Mecklenburg is one of just five players since sacks became an official statistic in 1982 with at least 1,000 tackles and 70 or more sacks. The others include three Hall of Famers (Rickey Jackson, Bruce Smith and Reggie White) and Cornelius Bennett, who, like Mecklenburg, is perennially on this list but remains overlooked.

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