San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith has had a career renaissance since leaving the Cincinnati Bengals after the 2007 season. In his first six seasons as a Bengal, Smith was a solid player but didn't gain much individual notoriety during that time. It's not that Smith wasn't a good player while in Cincinnati. He totaled 43.5 sacks in his six seasons and was tabbed as their franchise player before his departure after 2007.
It's been a bit of a different story since the 49ers nabbed him up in free agency before the 2008 season, though. Smith has gone to four Pro Bowls and had two All-Pro designations in his five seasons by the bay. Many that cover the league and in the media claim that Smith is one of the best defensive linemen in all of football and really opens things up for players around him like Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks.
He now has also been on two teams that have had quite a bit of success in the postseason. He has gone to an NFC Championship game and now is playing in "the big dance". A Super Bowl victory could also add to his impressive resume.
When you look at Pro Bowls and stats, Smith is kind of a "'tweener" of those players who could be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame right now. In his twelfth year in the league, it's probable that Smith doesn't have that much more football in front of him.
So, given his credentials, do you believe Smith will be a Hall of Fame player?