1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in football? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in football?
2. Was he the best player on his team?
All-time, no. KC previously had better defensive players. But, Thomas was the face of the Chiefs' franchise during his time there.
3. Was he the best player in football at his position? Was he the best player in the conference at his position?
If by position, we mean OLB? Then, no.
4. Did he have an impact on a number of great seasons?
Before Thomas went to KC, they were a dismal team. Nearly every season Thomas was in KC, they were a playoff team. But, never a serious contender for a championship. All in all, we'll give a slight lean towards yes.
5. Was he good enough that he could play regularly after passing his prime?
Yes. Thomas was still putting up his usual stats until his death at 33.
6. Is he the very best football player in history who is not in the Hall of Fame?
7. Are most players who have comparable statistics in the Hall of Fame?
Since sacks have only been recorded since 1982, it's difficult to compare. However, I'd go with no. Since Richard Dent has comparable sack stats and is not in.
8. Do the player's numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?
Not enough of a sample to properly judge.
9. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?
Lots to suggest Thomas was worse since sacks are a horribly overrated stat. Thomas was a weak run defender with few tackles for his position, and a noted liability in pass coverage. Thomas' position was OLB, so these are significant weaknesses.
10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame?
Most would say yes.
11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?
None. He was never a defensive MVP.
12. How many Pro Bowl-type seasons did he have? How many Pro-Bowl games did he play in? Did most of the players who played in this many Pro-Bowl games go into the Hall of Fame?
9 Pro Bowls. Easily enough for HOF consideration.
13. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win their conference?
No, and they didn't.
14. What impact did the player have on football history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he change the game in any way?
It could be argued Thomas revolutionized the purely pass rushing OLB/undersized DE.
15. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?
Yes. He was noted for being a good man in KC. And his untimely death further adds to the positive feelings people have for him.
Would he get my vote?
No. Being one of the best at 1/3 of the responsibilities of your position is not enough. Inducting Derrick Thomas all comes down to your believe of what a Hall of Famer should be. The glamor of bringing down the QB, or choosing players who were the best at their position. If Richard Dent is struggling to get in, I don't see how Thomas has any shot unless he gets the sympathy vote.