Elway is the NFL's second all-time leading passer and Sanders is the third all-time leading rusher. The finalists were chosen Wednesday by the Hall of Fame's board of selectors from a list of 25 semifinalists.
Former New York Giants linebacker Harry Carson and the late Giants General Manager George Young are automatic finalists because they finished in the top-six in voting last year.
Both Elway and Sanders are in their first year of eligibility.
Brown and Bob Hayes are Senior Committee nominees. Among the semifinalists who did not make the cut were owners Ralph Wilson and Art Modell.