Analysis Around the League Opinion

Top 25 under 25: The next wave of NFL Talent

These are the top 25 players who will be under 25 years old by Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season. This list is based on what each player has done so far in their career and what their future projection is.

1. QB Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

Age at kickoff: 24

Not only is Mahomes at the top of this list but he is widely considered the best player in the NFL. The second QB in NFL history to pass for 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns in a season followed that campaign up with a Super Bowl victory. Mahomes has already established himself as an NFL legend 31 games in.

2. G Quenton Nelson, Indianapolis Colts

Age at kickoff: 24

Many would place last season’s MVP, Lamar Jackson, here. However, Quinton Nelson has cemented himself as one of the most dominant players in the NFL after two seasons. Nelson has defined consistency having only missed 32 snaps and receiving a minimal 12 penalties in his career. These numbers have resulted in two Pro Bowl nods and a first-team All-Pro in each of those campaigns.

3. QB Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

Age at kickoff: 23

The NFL MVP. After coming on late in his rookie season, Jackson managed to take the league by storm. The reigning MVP became the first QB in NFL history to throw 30 touchdowns and rush for at least 1,000 yards. While playing for one of the most stable franchises in sports, Lamar Jackson will continue to ascend as a QB.

4. RB Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers

Age at kickoff: 24

CMC, coming off a record-breaking season is one of the most versatile players in the NFL. In 2019, he had 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards while leading the league in scrimmage yards (2,392) and touchdowns (19). He also broke the NFL record for receptions in a season (116) by a RB. After a record-breaking season, one could argue that he should be higher on this list.

5. EDGE Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers

Age at kickoff: 22

His last name is well known in the Chiefs Kingdom and this Bosa brother is the most recent to wreak havoc on the Kansas City Chiefs offense. Nick Bosa racked up 12 total pressures in Super Bowl LIV and four sacks throughout the post-season. As a rookie, Bosa finished with nine sacks, 25 QB hits, 16 tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries, an interception, and a forced fumble. Nick Bosa is well on his way to becoming the top pass rusher in the league.

6. S Jamal Adams, New York Jets

Age at kickoff: 24

Jamal Adams has steadily improved as a versatile defender over the course of three NFL seasons.  Since entering the league, the do-it-all defender has compiled 273 tackles, 23 QB hits, 25 pass deflections, 12 sacks, two interceptions, six forced fumbles, and four fumble recoveries. According to PFF, he played 401 snaps in the box, 131 in the slot, 297 at free safety, and 96 on the line. Adams has quickly become one of the most elite safeties in the NFL.

7. WR Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Age at kickoff: 24

In 2019, Chris Godwin proved himself as one of the top pass catchers in the NFL. Despite playing second fiddle to Mike Evans, Godwin reeled in 86 passes for 1,333 yards and nine touchdowns last season. Godwin’s surefire hands led to only one dropped pass on 121 targets last season. To put in perspective how great Godwin really is let us compare him to Michael Thomas. Last season, if targeted 149 times as Thomas was, he would have finished with 132 receptions, 2,046 yards, and 14 touchdowns. Do not be surprised if Godwin eventually becomes the top wideout in the NFL.

8. QB Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans

Age at kickoff: 24

When it comes to pure talent there are few like Deshaun Watson. Unfortunately, Watson plays for one of the most unstable franchises in the NFL and is tasked with carrying the Texans to playoffs each season. Watson always gives the Texans a chance due to his unique playmaking ability in the air and on the ground. If Deshaun Watson were to win MVP next season nobody would bat an eye.

9. S Derwin James, San Diego Chargers

Age at kickoff: 24

Despite an injury that forced him to miss the majority of this past season, Derwin James was so dominant during his rookie campaign that he lands at nine on this list. As a rookie, James was named first-team All-Pro. He finished 105 tackles, three interceptions, and three and half sacks. Similar to Jamal Adams, versatility is what makes him such a high impact player. Derwin James is elite as a run defender, in coverage, and as a blitzer. After returning from injury, James’s play was largely unaffected, and it is safe to say that he will return as one of the best defenders in the NFL.

10. EDGE Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns

Age at kickoff: 24

In the middle of a career year, Garrett was on pace for 16 sacks before swinging his helmet at Mason Rudolph. Since entering the NFL only ten players have tallied up more sacks than him. However, many know Myles Garrett the pass rusher, but many forget his ability to defend the run. He is a certified game-wrecker. At 6-foot-4, 270 pounds, and a freak athlete, Garrett has endless potential. The Cleveland Browns will be counting on a major contribution from him next season.

  1. DT Kenny Clark, Green Bay Packers – Age: 24
  2. CB Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans Saints – Age: 24
  3. S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Pittsburgh Steelers – Age: 23
  4. RB Saquon Barkley, New York Giants – Age: 23
  5. CB Jaire Alexander, Green Bay Packers – Age: 23
  6. LB Fred Warner, San Francisco 49ers – Age: 23
  7. CB Marlon Humphrey, Baltimore Ravens – Age: 24
  8. S Marcus Williams, New Orleans Saints – Age: 24
  9. RB Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns – Age: 24
  10. WR Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos – Age: 24
  11. WR A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans – Age: 23
  12. QB Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals – Age: 23
  13. WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers – Age: 23
  14. T Orlando Brown Jr., Baltimore Ravens – Age: 24
  15. LB Devin Bush, Pittsburgh Steelers – Age: 22

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