If you are a regular consumer of the NFL, you've already felt the undeniable youth movement. Tune into any game or any programming dedicated to the league and there's no shortage of young, upstart players being featured. Whether it is Patrick Mahomes' pursuit of the touchdown record or the latest Saquon Barkley jaunt through an opposing defense, the league is experiencing a series of young stars emerging before our very eyes. Welcome to 25 Under 25.
With so many young talents popping up across the league, who would you qualify to be in the top 25 best players under the age of 25? The process of putting together a list was pretty daunting, although it was admittedly made easier by making the cut off *UNDER* 25, so guys like New Orleans WR Mike Thomas, Philadelphia QB Carson Wentz and others were ineligible.
If you missed the release of players 25-11, they dropped over the last few weeks. We'll keep a running tab as the players are revealed. My list so far:
Without further delay, here are the next five young NFL talents to make my list.
10. Los Angeles Rams Running Back Todd Gurley
2018 stats: 14 games played, 1251 rushing yards, 17 rushing TDs, 59 receptions, 580 yards, 4 receiving TDs
There was one point this season (after Week 7) in which it looked like Gurley might be in contention to break the single season touchdown record. Gurley had logged 14 touchdowns through the team's 7-0 start, thanks in large part to some herculean efforts from the fourth year back.
That pace has waned, and Gurley will finish the regular season with *only* 21 touchdowns, a career high.
Gurley owes head coach Sean McVay a fruit basket or something for the former's role in Gurley's placement on the list. You see, a 22-year old Todd was featured under Jeff Fisher's team and averaged 3.8 yards per touch (on 321 touches from scrimmage). That's like...almost impossible.
But in 29 games under Coach Sean McVay, Gurley has averaged 5.97 yards per touch (a total of 3924 yards from scrimmage and 40 total touchdowns in that span).
Yes, Todd's production sagged in consecutive losses to Chicago and Philadelphia and then sitting out vs. Arizona, but don't be short sighted. Gurley is one of the best weapons in the pros.
9. Kansas City Chiefs Wide Receiver Tyreek Hill
2018 stats: 15 games played, 82 receptions, 1378 receiving yards, 11 receiving touchdowns, 1 punt return touchdown
Speaking of the best weapons in the pros, what a season we've seen from Tyreek Hill. Hill is another player who has seen his production dip in recent weeks (the Chiefs have lost their last two). But with a game to space and the potential to be either the 1 seed or the 5 seed in this year's playoffs, Kansas City will be full speed ahead against a bad Oakland team this Sunday.
Hill has flourished with first year starter Patrick Mahomes, their big play mentality has yielded a ton of explosive plays. Hill has more 20+ yard receptions (26) and 40+ yard receptions (7) than anyone else in the league. With raw speed and impressive toughness at his disposal on his route tree, Hill has become much more than the speed specialist he entered the league as.
8. New Orleans Saints Cornerback Marshon Lattimore
2018 stats: 15 games played, 57 total tackles, 2 interception, 12 passes defensed, 4 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries
Don't look now but Lattimore has bounced back from a pretty brutal first month of the season. After finishing his rookie season as a ball hawking sensation, Lattimore has settled in quite nicely since the calendar flipped to October and continues to be one of the best young talents in the league.
Yes, Lattimore was tested by Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown last weekend...but who isn't? It was a great showcase of two elite talents taking turns collecting their "wins" off each other rep for rep. That's to be expected. But otherwise? Lattimore has backed up his rookie season with great play for the majority of the year.
Lattimore's production over two seasons is impressive: he has 7 interceptions and 30 passes defensed in 28 games. Guys who can get their hands on the ball >>>.
7. New Orleans Saints Offensive Tackle Ryan Ramczyk
2018 stats: N/A
Remember what we talked about last time RE: the Pro Bowl? Go ahead and double down. The Pro Bowl picked the wrong tackle in New Orleans. Don't get me wrong, I respect the heck out of Terron Armstead and his development the past few years has been so fun to watch.
But Ramczyk has been, to me, one of the best offensive tackles in the game this year. He's been physically dominant and does so with refined skills and techniques. Our friends at Pro Football Focus had credited Ramczyk with one or zero pressures in ten of fourteen games this season entering Week 16.
6. Los Angeles Rams Quarterback Jared Goff
2018 stats: 15 games played, 65.2% completion, 4489 passing yards, 28 passing touchdowns, 12 interceptions
Remember the good old days when Jared Goff was a bust after 7 starts? Good times, good times. May he serve as the ever present reminder that anomalies exist but regression to the mean is a safe bet. Goff has regressed from bad to very good.
He, like Todd Gurley, owes Coach McVay some credit, but Goff was the first overall pick of 2016 for a reason: he's got a lot of talent. Goff has been surgical for stretches this season, particularly in big game showcases vs. the Chargers, Minnesota, New Orleans, Seattle and Kansas City.
Is it worrisome that Goff's last month has produced just 3 total touchdowns vs. 6 interceptions? Absolutely. The Bears game served as a potential NFC Divisional round preview and Goff threw four picks on a windy night at Soldier Field.
But again, I implore you not to overreact. We should know better.
Make sure you swing back next week as I continue to count down my personal list of 25 Under 25! In the meantime, please feel free to send me your personal lists on social media! You can find me on Twitter at: @GrindingTheTape.