The elite talent that has come out of college and into the NFL from the past few years has been remarkable. From franchise quarterbacks, to Pro Bowl defenders, here are 25 of the best NFL studs that are 25 or younger:
25. HaHa Clinton-Dix (FS, Green Bay Packers, 24 yrs old)
Drafted out of Alabama in 2014, Clinton-Dix made a name out of himself from the moment he stepped on the field.
Seen as an elite threat at the safety position, there is no doubt that Clinton-Dix is one of the best draft picks the Packers have made in recent years.
With 7 passes defended and 5 interceptions this past regular season, it’s only a matter of time before HaHa Clinton-Dix becomes a legitimate threat in the secondary.
24. Todd Gurley (RB, Los Angeles Rams, 22 yrs old)
Even though his play has drastically declined since his rookie year in 2015, there is a whole lot of potential when it comes to Todd Gurley.
Gurley finished third in rushing in 2015, as well as finishing only one touchdown behind first place.
While the Rams have a lot of rebuilding to go through, possibly the biggest bright spot in the active roster is the backfield presence that Gurley provides.
23. Sammy Watkins (WR, Buffalo Bills, 23 yrs old)
Coming out of Clemson, Watkins found himself drafted by the Buffalo Bills early in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Since his rookie year, Watkins now has eclipsed 2,400+ total receiving yards and 17 TDs, including 6 in 2014.
Watkins would be higher on the list, but he has only played one full season in three years in the NFL. With the time off, Watkins should focus on getting healthy.
22. Jarvis Landry (WR, Miami Dolphins, 24 yrs old)
Another member of the 2014 NFL Draft class, Landry has been arguably the best slot receiver since his rookie campaign. With 110 receptions in 2015, Landry finished 6th in that category.
He may not be the biggest red zone threat, but his speed and reliability is what makes him a danger to defenses around the league.
21. Devonta Freeman (RB, Atlanta Falcons, 24 yrs old)
A lot of people would assume that a timeshare in the backfield would be a hassle for the Falcons, but Freeman has made the most out of every touch he’s been given.
With back-to-back 1,000+ rushing yard seasons under his belt, Freeman is on his way to becoming a very solid running back.
Freeman personally reminds me of an elite Eddie Lacy or Marshawn Lynch when the Falcons are within the red zone, simply because he is so difficult to stop at the goal line. Because of that ability, Freeman has 22 touchdowns in the last two seasons.
20. Amari Cooper (WR, Oakland Raiders, 22 yrs old)
Drafted out of Alabama in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, Cooper has become an elite receiver in every sense.
With back-to-back 1,000+ receiving yard seasons of his own, Cooper and quarterback Derek Carr are considered an elite duo, as their chemistry almost carried them to the Super Bowl.
I expect for Cooper to only get better as time goes on, as long as Carr continues to play at an elite level as well.
19. Allen Robinson (WR, Jacksonville Jaguars, 23 yrs old)
With the #61 overall pick in 2014, the Jaguars chose to take a shot on Robinson, and haven’t regretted it since.
Even though his play declined this past season, Robinson showed sparks of being an All-Star in the 2015 season, as he posted 1,400 receiving yards and 14 TDs.
I really hope 2015 wasn’t a fluke, because I believe in Robinson being one of most talented wide receivers in the game when he is at his best.
18. Vic Beasley (OLB, Atlanta Falcons, 24 yrs old)
Beasley wasn’t much of a factor in his rookie season with Atlanta in 2015, but 2016 turned out to be a nightmare for any opponent facing him.
With 15.5 sacks from just 2016-17 alone, Beasley finished in that category at #1, two sacks ahead of Von Miller.
If Beasley is anything like he was this past season, he will continue to be one of the most feared pass rushers that the NFL has to offer.
17. Dak Prescott (QB, Dallas Cowboys, 23 yrs old)
After a stellar and unexpected rookie season, Prescott is definitely worthy of a spot in the top 25 this year.
Even though he was practically flawless in most games during the regular season, the reason he is so low on the list is because of the talent above him.
I’d love to see some consistency from Prescott over the years, because he has shown to be dynamic both in and out of the pocket.
16. Kwon Alexander (LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 22 yrs old)
In his second season in the NFL, Alexander finished fourth in total tackles at 145. How impressive is that?
The fact that Alexander is 22, and had such a stellar season, gives him high expectations going into the 2017-18 season.
The Tampa Bay defense this past season struggled in a lot of areas, but Kwon Alexander is absolutely a diamond in the rough.
15. Jameis Winston (QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 23 yrs old)
Winston has been a remarkable franchise quarterback for the Bucs over the last two years, posting 4,000+ passing yards each season, as well as 250+ passing yards per game.
With time on his side, Winston has what it takes to be one of the great young quarterbacks.
14. Keenan Allen (WR, San Diego Chargers, 24 yrs old)
When healthy, Keenan Allen is an absolute force to be reckoned with for the Chargers. He hasn’t played more than 9 games since 2014, but his talent alone puts him on the list.
The Chargers have had little to no recent regular season success, so Allen will once again have an entire offseason to rest, after playing only one game last season.
13. Marcus Mariota (QB, Tennessee Titans, 23 yrs old)
The Titans were within reach of making the postseason in 2016, but they came up short after an injury to Mariota.
With that, it’s important to note that Mariota has been putting up excellent numbers, despite a lack of weapons to work with.
I expect Mariota to start where he left off this upcoming season, as the Titans look to sneak in the postseason within a weak AFC South.
12. Marcus Peters (CB, Kansas City Chiefs, 24 yrs old)
Peters is without a doubt a top 5-10 cornerback in the league, despite anyones age. With 6 interceptions in 2016, and 8 interceptions in his rookie season, he has been a shutdown corner from week-to-week.
The Chiefs pride themselves on their defensive ability to stop opponents from scoring, and Peters has been the cornerstone of that system.
11. DeAndre Hopkins (WR, Houston Texans, 24 yrs old)
2016 may not have been the best year for Hopkins, but there is no denying the talent that the young receiver has.
He has never missed an NFL game, and has averaged 70.1 yards per game in his four-year career as a pro.
The quarterback situation in Houston is less than ideal, but I think Hopkins is one of the more underrated receivers in the league.
10. Landon Collins (S, New York Giants, 23 yrs old)
In a stacked 2015 NFL Draft class, the Giants were wise enough to select Landon Collins in the second round. Since then, he has been one of the best safties in the NFL.
This past season, Collins was able to secure the second-most tackles amongst safeties. The Giants went from one of the worst to best defenses, and Collins was a big part of that to say the least.
9. Mike Evans (WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 23 yrs old)
This is now the third member of the Bucs to appear on this list, and it just goes to show you how young and talanted this franchise is.
Evans has posted 1,000+ receiving yards in all three of his seasons, as well as bringing in 10+ TDs in two of his three years in the NFL.
Evans has been an elite receiver, but it doesn’t hurt when you have a guy like Jameis Winston throwing to you.
8. Aaron Donald (DT, Los Angeles Rams, 25 yrs old)
Donald is the oldest player on this list of studs, but would arguably be at #1 if the list were the rankings of all the defensive tackles in the NFL.
With 28 sacks in three seasons, Donald has become arguably the best player on the Rams entire roster. I expect zero decline from Donald, as he continues to give terror to offensive lines.
7. Khalil Mack (LB, Oakland Raiders, 25 yrs old)
The Raiders defense was hyped up at the beginning of the season, and the only player that really came through was Khalil Mack.
Sitting at #8 in total sacks from 2016-17, Mack has been one of the best young defensive players in recent years. Not many will compare him to the likes of Von Miller, but don’t doubt Khalil Mack, because he’ll make you regret it.
6. Derek Carr (QB, Oakland Raiders, 25 yrs old)
Although his 2016-17 season was ended by injury, there’s no forgetting that Carr was one of the front runners for MVP. Year after year, Carr has continued to grow and become what seems to be an elite quarterback.
With a TD:INT ratio of 4.67 this past season, I’m sure the bar is set high for Carr, who is set to be healthy when week one of the 2017-18 season comes around.
5. Luke Kuechly (LB, Carolina Panthers, 25 yrs old)
When healthy and on the field, Kuechly could very well be one of the best linebackers the NFL has to offer.
In both 2012 (his rookie season) and 2014, Kuechly lead the league in total tackles. In 2013, he came in fourth in the same category.
Kuechly has suffered a number of setbacks over the last two seasons due to injury, but that doesn’t make him any less valuable of a player.
4. Ezekiel Elliot (RB, Dallas Cowboys, 21 yrs old)
Ezekiel Elliot is the youngest player on this list, yet he plays as if he is a true veteran.
Leading the league in rushing attempts and yards in 2016, as well as #3 in rushing touchdowns, Zeke is a special type of talent. The Cowboys relied on Elliot for most of last season, so don’t expect that to change the next couple of years.
3. David Johnson (RB, Arizona Cardinals, 25 yrs old)
Many expected Chris Johnson to be the answer to the Arizona backfield a few years ago, yet it was rookie David Johnson that came to life in 2015.
With 1,820 rushing yards and 24 TDs in two seasons, Johnson is one of the most dynamic running backs in recent years.
The Cardinals seem to be aging when it comes to Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald, so the fact that David Johnson can be relied on so heavily is a blessing for the Cardinals franchise.
2. Le’Veon Bell (RB, Pittsburgh Steelers, 24 yrs old)
Bell has only played one full season, either because of injury or suspension. With that being said, he is still producing better numbers than a majority of running backs, even with the missed time.
In only 12 games this past season, Bell was able to rank #5 when it came to rushing yards (1,268). On top of that, Bell is an absolute monster when it comes to catching the ball out of the backfield.
In four seasons in the NFL (47 games), Bell has produced over 2,000 receiving yards, as well as 5 TDs.
1. Odell Beckham Jr. (WR, New York Giants, 24 yrs old)
He may be potentially the most controversial player off the field, but Beckham Jr has had one of the best starts to NFL career that a wide receiver can have.
Through his first 25 career NFL games, Beckham had more receptions and receiving yards than any other player in NFL history. On top of that, his 22 touchdowns to start his career were tied for fourth in NFL history.
Say what you want about him being a distraction, but Beckham Jr is the best player that’s 25 or younger.