The NFL is nearing the end of the current season, and we have seen multiple players step into the spotlight. The next generation of NFL stars have made this particular segment difficult, as names such as Baker Mayfield, Sony Michel, and others have missed the cut based on the smallest of errors. With that, here are the top 25 players under the age of 25:
*All players selected are at the QB, RB, WR, or TE position*
Honorable mentions: Deebo Samuel, Christian Kirk, Daniel Jones, Juju Smith-Schuster, Marquise Brown
25. RB Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers
He may have been snubbed from the Pro Bowl, but Ekeler deserves a mention in this segment. The Chargers were without Melvin Gordon for the first four weeks due to a holdout regarding his contract, but Ekeler proved himself worthy as a starter. With 6 touchdowns in the first four weeks, Gordon eventually returned; transitioning Ekeler into the pass-catching role. Ekeler finished 2nd in receiving yards and 1st in receiving touchdowns among running backs.
24. RB Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
The 23-year old has maintained a solid year for the Bengals, totaling 1,137 rushing yards, 5 rushing touchdowns, and an additional 3 receiving touchdowns. Cincinnati has undergone the process of “tanking” this season, and have received the #1 overall pick in the 2020 Draft as a result. With a viable option such as Joe Burrow under center, it should open up Mixon’s game.
23. TE Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens
In just his second NFL season, Andrews sneaks into the list as the only tight end mentioned. Under the Ravens offense, the 24-year old has 852 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. He is clearly a product of Lamar Jackson, but his impressive campaign is worth admiring nonetheless. To date, Andrews has 11 games of 6+ targets.
22. RB Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts
With past inconsistencies, Mack has turned around his fortune in order to rush for 1,091 yards and 8 rushing touchdowns this season. The 23-year old entered the year without Andrew Luck, leaving question marks around the potential of the offense. Even without T.Y. Hilton for a stretch this season, Mack has been the only consistent factor for Indianapolis’ offense, that has otherwise struggled.
21. WR DK Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks
There was no rookie receiver with higher expectations than Metcalf, and although it has taken some time, he has performed enough to rank at this position. Metcalf finished 3rd among rookies with 900 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns. He has emerged as a threat for opposing defenses, but his 3 fumbles prevent him from moving up any further.
20. WR Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys
After changing offensive coordinators, the Cowboys have made targeting Michael Gallup a top priority. Through this season, Dak Prescott found his receiver for 5+ receptions in 12 games. As a result, Gallup finished with 1,107 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns. For a run-first offense that often looks to Amari Cooper to bail them out in the passing game, Gallup has made the most every opportunity.
19. QB Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
With perhaps the most media attention among the incoming rookies, Murray has stood his ground enough to earn a mention in this segment. He finished as an average starting quarterback in the NFL and totaled 3,722 yards (15th), 20 TD (21st), and a 56.0 QBR (16th). Although Lamar Jackson led all quarterbacks in rushing yards, Murray has opened up his game enough to finish 2nd with 544 rushing yards.
18. QB Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville Jaguars
Prior to the injury to Nick Foles, we didn’t know much about what ‘Minshew Mania’ entailed. However, the Jaguars found a gem on their hands with the 23-year old from Washington State. His numbers through the air surpass both Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray in certain aspects; both of whom were #1 picks in their respective draft classes. Jacksonville has a quarterback dilemma on their hands, but I suppose there are worse issues to have.
17. WR Terry McLaurin, Washington Redskins
Although the Redskins have split time at the quarterback position between Case Keenum, Dwayne Haskins, and Colt McCoy, rookie receiver Terry McLaurin has been a consistent factor. With 919 receiving yards, he finished 2nd when it came to plays of 20+ yards this season with 15 in total. In addition, McLaurin’s 7 touchdowns accounted for 38.9% of the team’s receiving touchdowns this season.
16. WR A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans
The second-round pick from Mississippi has proven to be a deep threat this season, with 13 games of 10+ yards per reception. Although his target share has been less than D.K. Metcalf, Terry McLaurin, and Deebo Samuel, he has more receiving yards than anyone in this particular rookie class. In addition, Brown has 8 plays of 40+ yards; four more than any other rookie.
15. WR D.J. Chark, Jacksonville Jaguars
Not much was expected of the Jaguars offense, and Chark was certainly not expected to be the team leader in receiving yards (1,008) and touchdowns (8). With 67.2 receiving yards per game, the 23-year old has been a dynamic option. Even with the numbers, it’s important that he managed to produce with Nick Foles and Gardner Minshew under center.
14. WR Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos
The jump from rookie to sophomore has been beneficial for Sutton, who finished with three more touchdowns than any other receiver on the team. With 1,112 receiving yards, Sutton has yet to see a game with fewer than 5 targets. The 24-year old has totaled impressive numbers this season, and has done so with three quarterbacks under center.
13. RB Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars
As the third inductee from the Jacksonville Jaguars, Fournette has amassed a season-high 1,152 rushing yards this season. Although the offense has changed quarterbacks, Fournette has seen 15+ carries in 11 games; showcasing his consistent volume demand. At the age of 24, Fournette is proving to be a dynamic weapon when healthy.
12. RB Josh Jacobs, Oakland Raiders
Ranked as the top rookie running back by many, Jacobs has elevated his level of play en route to totaling 1,150 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns. With five games of 100+ yards on the ground, it’s important to remember that Jacobs came into a system that was supposed to have Antonio Brown; a superstar-caliber player who could open up the running game immensely.
11. WR DJ Moore, Carolina Panthers
In just his second NFL season, Moore saw 1,175 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns. This came after the Panthers threw Cam Newton, Kyle Allen, and rookie Will Grier under center. As the 12th-most targeted receiver in 2019, Moore reached what very well may be his ceiling in Carolina’s offense.
10. QB Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
While the Bills’ playoff chances were short-lived, Allen has brought the team to the Wild Card stage twice in the last three seasons. Prior to that, Buffalo has not played in a playoff game since 1999. His five game-winning drives in 2019 were the most among any quarterback.
9. RB Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns
After finishing second in rushing yards this season, Chubb proved to be one of the few bright spots for the Cleveland Browns. He witnessed increases in almost every statistical category, and managed nearly 300 carries during the regular season. Assuming Kareem Hunt does not return to the Browns in 2020, Chubb has the opportunity to continue to establish himself as an elite back.
8. RB Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
This is where the list becomes somewhat controversial, as Kamara is viewed as one of the most versatile backs in the league. After missing a brief period of time this season, the #8 spot seems like a fair evaluation for a player who couldn’t manage to surpass 800 rushing yards for the second time in three seasons. However, Kamara was third in receptions among running backs with 81 in total.
7. QB Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
With back-to-back seasons with 10+ wins, Watson has proven to be a top tier quarterback. He had 250+ passing yards on eight occasions this season, and still picked up 7 rushing touchdowns. Despite the looming injuries for Houston, Watson has been the perfect example of elevating the play of his teammates.
6. RB Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
Despite being a generational talent, it’s difficult to argue that Barkley deserves to be ahead of the #6 slot. With the missed time, he was forced to carry the ball 44 less times, resulting in 304 less yards and 5 less rushing touchdowns. Barkley is still one of the top running backs, but the Giants failed to utilize him properly this past season.
5. RB Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings
This was a career year for Dalvin Cook, who played his healthiest season to date. His 13 rushing touchdowns ranked 4th in the NFL, and his 59% offensive snap count was a career-high. The Vikings have continued to be a run-first offense, and Cook has proven to be reliable when he can stay on the field.
4. RB Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
Many overlooked Elliott’s 2019 season, but he still brought in 1,357 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. The Cowboys offense went through Kellen Moore’s first season as offensive coordinator, and with that, there were some obvious low points. With upcoming staff changes on the horizon, Elliott should still be viewed as one of the most valuable players in the NFL.
3. RB Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers
Even without Cam Newton under center, Christian McCaffrey has been just as dominant. His 2,392 scrimmage yards were a league-high, as he became the third player in NFL history to both rush and receive for 1,000+ yards in a single season. The Panthers are expected to make an abundance of changes this offseason, but McCaffrey’s success should not be affected to a major degree.
2. QB Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
Was there any surprise here? Many think of Lamar Jackson as a running back, but fail to mention that he led the league with 36 passing touchdowns this season. With a league-high 81.1 QBR, Jackson was also able to use his feet in critical moments. In fact, he finished with 1,206 rushing yards; 6th among all players in the NFL. With a bit more postseason success, Jackson would clearly be the top option.
1. QB Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
The 2018 NFL MVP has earned enough respect to grab the #1 spot, as his TD:INT ratio ranks 8th among quarterbacks this year. With back-to-back seasons of 4,000+ passing yards, Mahomes has done enough to carry the Chiefs to consecutive bye weeks as well. With a veteran coaching staff and elite offense around him, Mahomes has still yet to reach his prime.
Photo Credit- Baltimore Sun