In case the title didn’t tell you, players have to be under the age of 25 to qualify for this list. Players who are 25 were not counted. Even putting the age limit at 25 I had more than enough names to sift through before I was able to come up with a list I’m somewhat happy with. I guess it’s better to have more names then less though, so let’s get into the names.
- Todd Gurley RB Los Angeles Rams
- Ezekiel Elliott RB Dallas Cowboys
- Jared Goff QB Los Angeles Rams
- Patrick Mahomes QB Kansas City Chiefs
- Saquon Barkley RB New York Giants (Rookie)
- Myles Garrett DE Cleveland Browns
- Jalen Ramsey CB Jacksonville Jaguars
- Joey Bosa DE Los Angeles Chargers
- Landon Collins S New York Giants
I believe that the top nine players on this list are a cut above the rest. They all possess or have displayed All-Pro potential and will be main-stays in the NFL for the next decade. The most questionable selections are without a doubt Mahomes and Barkley, but just wait and see before you grill me for their high positions.
- Alvin Kamara RB New Orleans Saints
- Deion Jones MLB Atlanta Falcons
- Tyreek Hill WR Kansas City Chiefs
- Marshon Lattimore CB New Orleans Saints
- Kareem Hunt RB Kansas City Chiefs
- Myles Jack MLB Jacksonville Jaguars
- T.J. Watt OLB Pittsburgh Steelers
- Darius Leonard MLB Indianapolis Colts (Rookie)
- Juju Smith-Schuster WR Pittsburgh Steelers
- Denzel Ward CB Cleveland Browns (Rookie)
- Blake Martinez MLB Green Bay Packers
- Joe Schobert MLB Cleveland Browns
- DeForest Buckner DT San Francisco 49ers
- Jack Conklin OT Tennessee Titans
- Kwon Alexander MLB Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Jamal Adams S New York Jets
The top 25 was dominated by defensive talent. 15 of the 25 players selected were defenders and seven of those were linebackers. The lack of offensive players isn’t because there aren’t great young players in the league, most of them are just over 25. A lot of the best offensive guys are just in the range between 25 and 30. A lot of the established quarterbacks are well over 30, which is why it’s good to see Goff and Mahomes on this list.
I might have jumped the gun by including three rookies on this list, but it’s hard to deny what they’ve done in this young NFL season. We’ll know more after their sophomore seasons but right now I’m confident that Barkley, Leonard, and Ward should be on this list.
For the more old-fashioned lovers of the game, it must be nice to see four running backs in the top 25. The last few drafts have been so running back heavy that the league has really gone through a changing of the guard at the position.
- Tre’Davious White CB Buffalo Bills
- Stefon Diggs WR Minnesota Vikings
- Leonard Fournette RB Jacksonville Jaguars
- Roquan Smith MLB Chicago Bears (Rookie)
- Calvin Ridley WR Atlanta Falcons (Rookie)
Just five honorable mentions really don’t do the rest of the young stars justice. I might draw criticism for the selections of Smith and Ridley considering they’re rookies, but I think they’ll break into the top 25 in this list by next season. Diggs and White are great I just couldn’t find room for them in the top 25. I might have over done it with the linebackers a little.
I want to run through some snubs, and there are a lot of them. Leonard Williams of the Jets just missed the list because his production dropped last season. Somehow Yannick Ngakoue from the Jaguars fell off of the list but that might be in large part because he’s overshadowed by three other young Jaguars players, all of whom are on this list. Jaylon Smith was almost the second Cowboy on this list but the linebacker position is just so stacked. He has the talent I just want to see a little more from him before I pen him in. Jordan Howard for the Bears was tough to leave off but he’s having a poor season and there are a handful of backs with greater upside. After a pitiful 2017 campaign I left Amari Cooper off the list as well. Cooper Kupp just missed snagging a spot but I gave it to Ridley instead.
There were many other players who I considered but it would take too long to go through them all. I just wanted to mention some quarterbacks who I left off the list because I felt they weren’t good enough to crack the list. Marcus Mariota was underwhelming last season and has continued to disappoint this season. Speaking of disappointing: Jameis Winston everybody. Mitchell Trubisky is still a long-term project who is advancing slowly. Deshaun Watson was electrifying last season. He hasn’t been the same this year. Still, he’s been the best out of the quarterbacks I’ve mentioned in this paragraph. The only two rookie quarterbacks I considered were Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold. I’d put Mayfield up there with Watson, close but not quite polished enough for the list.
Again, I fully expect that most of the players I’ve listed as honorable mentions or in these bottom paragraphs will be on the list in the next two seasons. And I can’t wait to see what type of players they develop into. These next few years are going to be fun to watch.