We attempted to rank the 25 best players under the age of 25 in the NFL. Skill position players transition the quickest; offensive lineman less so. Before you ask, Odell Beckham and Jadeveon Clowney are 25, and thus ineligible. The player you want to yell at us for not making the list probably “just missed” and is listed at the end.
1. DeShaun Watson, QB, Texans, age 22
He’s only played five games, but shredded Seattle on the road (402 yards, 3 TDs), and throwing 11 TDs against playoff teams KC, Tennessee and New England sold me. He’s going to get Houston to the playoffs sooner than later.
2. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys, age 22
After his 1,631-yard, 15-TD rookie rushing season, an unwarranted suspension ruined his 2017. Between revenge and the Cowboys going to the ground more, 2,000 yards is within reach.
3. Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans, age 24
Had a case for #1 if he had built on his 2016 season, but he regressed, throwing a career-low 13 TDs and a career-high 15 INTs. Was tied for the league lead with 4 game-winning drives.
4. Jalen Ramsey, DB, Jaguars, age 23
It took him just two years to become the best cornerback in football. Was named 1st team All-Pro last season, helping the Jags get to the AFC title game.
5. Joey Bosa, DE, Chargers, age 22
He’s got 23 sacks in 28 games, and he’s forced five fumbles. Already among the NFL’s elite pass rushers, with Khalil Mack, Von Miller and JJ Watt.
6. Todd Gurley, RB, Rams, age 23
It almost feels like his first two years with Jeff Fisher were wasted (he still had 1,991 yards, 16 TDs on the ground) when you consider how he nearly won the MVP in his first year with Sean McVay (19 total TDs, 2,093 yards).
7. Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys, age 24
Stats took a dip after the stunning rookie year, and it’ll be interesting to see how he does without his two leading receivers from last year. Turns 25 in July.
8. Alvin Kamara, RB, Saints, age 22
A 3rd round steal who scored 13 total TDs and was equally deadly on the ground (728 yards) and through the air (826 yards).
9. Jared Goff, QB, Rams, age 23
Famously went 0-7 as a rookie under Jeff Fisher and looked like a bust; rebounded to improve in every offensive category and throw 28 TDs while getting the Rams to the playoffs. And now he’s got Brandin Cooks.
10. Mike Evans, WR, Bucs, age 24
He’s already a Top 10 receiver in the NFL after just four seasons. Consistency would be nice – he’s gone 12 TDs, then 3, then 12, then 5 – but part of that is due to his up-and-down QB, Jameis Winston. Evans turns 25 in August.