Hall of Fame finalists include Moss, Owens, Lewis, Urlacher

Former Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher is a Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist. — AP

NEW YORK — The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced its 2018 Modern Era finalists Tuesday, led by linebackers Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher and wide receiver Randy Moss, each of whom is in his first year of eligibility.

San Francisco 49ers general manager and former Buccaneers and Broncos safety John Lynch is also a finalist, capping a year in which he went from TV analyst to NFL GM.

The full 15-man group: offensive tackle Tony Boselli, wideout Isaac Bruce, safety Brian Dawkins, offensive guard Alan Faneca, offensive guard Steve Hutchinson, offensive tackle Joe Jacoby, running back Edgerrin James, cornerback Ty Law, Lewis, Lynch, center Kevin Mawae, Moss, wideout Terrell Owens, Urlacher and cornerback Everson Walls.

Nine of the 15 were also finalists last year, while a 10th (James) was a finalist in 2016. Hutchinson joined Lewis, Urlacher and Moss as a first-year eligible finalist, while Walls reached this stage for the first time in his 20th year of eligibility. Faneca, Jacoby and Owens have been finalists in each of the last three years, while Lynch has done so in five consecutive years.

Since 2015, four of the nine candidates to reach the final 15 in their first year of eligibility have gone on to be enshrined that year: Junior Seau (2015), Brett Favre (2016), Jason Taylor (2017) and LaDainian Tomlinson (2017).

A 13-time Pro Bowler and two-time Defensive Player of the Year, Lewis seems likely to join that group of first-ballot selections. Moss has a compelling case as well — he ranks second all-time in receiving touchdowns and fourth in receiving yards — but Owens has yet to be chosen thus far despite a similar resume (second all-time in receiving yards, third in receiving TDs), and Bruce (fifth in yards, 12th in TDs) adds to the mix at wide receiver.

Also worth watching will be Lynch and Dawkins, as the path to induction for safeties has been exceedingly difficult. Kenny Easley's selection last year, via the senior committee, made him just the eighth pure safety ever inducted, and the first since 1998.

The Modern Era group was whittled from an original list of 108 nominees to 27 semifinalists in November. The 15 finalists will join senior nominees Robert Brazile and Jerry Kramer and contributor nominee Bobby Beathard for consideration for nomination into the 2018 class.

A maximum of five Modern-Era candidates will be chosen for induction Feb. 3, the day before Super Bowl LII. — Reuters