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14 Jul 2020

Home of the NFL Offseason

NFL’s Top 25 Under 25

  1. Patrick Mahomes
    • Who can dispute this? The guy won the MVP and a Super Bowl in his first 2 years as a starter. He’s the best QB in the league, and he’s in a system that allows him to play to his strengths and he’s changing the game. I will say Andy Reid doesn’t get enough credit for the way he brought Mahomes along. Coming out of Texas Tech, Patrick Mahomes had all sorts of flaws in his mechanics, but Reid did a fantastic job molding the QB into what he wanted, but at the same time, not turning him into some robot. He’s been able to perform on the biggest stage as well, his postseason stats are just as impressive as anything he’s done; in 4 games, 1,188 passing yards, 10 TD’s to 0 INT’s along with 2 rushing touchdowns with a completion percentage of 62%.
  2. Deshaun Watson
    • I believe a lot of people would have preferred Lamar Jackson in this spot with the way he lit the league on fire last year. But somehow people overlook how good Deshaun Watson has been. His 2019 stats took a little dip from 2018, but he’s still winning double-digit games, putting up good numbers, and taking a beating while doing so. Coming off his second torn ACL, Watson’s 2018 season saw him get sacked 65 times, most in the league, but managed to throw for over 4,100 yards, less than 10 INT’s with another 5 rushing TD’s. In 2019, Watson again was sacked the most in the league with 55 throwing for over 3,800 yards, 26 TD’s but the INT number rose from 9 to 12. Despite all the sacks and pressures, Watson has still just less than 30 throwaways in 2 seasons and the Houston offense managed to finish 12th in PPG in 2019. It’s also worth mentioning that Watson has led 10 game winning drives in the last 2 seasons as well.
  3. Quenton Nelson
    • Probably the best Interior OL in the league. In 2 years he’s been selected as a 1st team All-Pro, 2x Pro Bowler, and has been credited with giving up just 2 sacks in his career (1,146 drop-backs). Nelson’s 90.1 run blocking grade on PFF was also good for 3rd in the league, with the Colts’ offense rushing for over 2,000 yards with it’s 2,134 yards being the best since 1994.
  4. Lamar Jackson
    • Lamar at 4 might be an outrage to some, but keep in mind it’s just 1 full season playing the most difficult position in pro sports. Defenses have a year’s worth of film to pick up tendencies and try to exploit a player. So, to me, we’ve seen this story time and time again with these types of QB’s. Nonetheless, the season where teams failed to identify those tendencies was a great one for Jackson. Not only did he go 6-1 in his 7 starts as a rookie, he went 13-2 in 2019 with 36 TD’s, plus another 7 on the ground with just over 1,200 yards rushing. Combining for 4,333 total yards and 43 total TD’s. I thought maybe after the Playoff performances the Henry might beat him out for MVP, but those numbers were pretty ridiculous.
  5. Ezekiel Elliott
    • Elliott turns 25 towards the end of July, and even though it’s close, I kept him on the list anyway. He’s had 3 of his 4 seasons with over 300 carries for over 1,300 yards in those seasons with 189 career receptions (77 in 2018). No doubt he’s been taking a beating, and 2018 had over 380 total touches. He’s been the epitome of consistency and someone you can count on week after week to produce, and although his touchdown numbers have varied, he’s never scored fewer than 9 in a season, and totaled 14 in 2019.
  6. Christian McCaffrey
    • Someone that possibly that could be ahead of Elliott, but Elliott has been doing it at an elite level for longer but these 2 are just different breeds of players. Rushing for over 1k yards the last 2 seasons with a little less than 1,900 receiving yards over that span. His 100+ receptions over the last 2 years and 80 his rookie season is something we haven’t seen done to that level since Marshall Faulk. In 2018, McCaffrey totaled 13 touchdowns, then followed that up with 19 in 2019, along with 1,387 rushing yards, and 1,005 receiving yards.
  7. Darius Leonard
    • I originally had Jaylon Smith in this spot, but since he turns 25 in a few days, I left him off the list, but worth noting I had him in my top 7. Leonard racked up 163 total tackles his rookie year; good for RDPOY and All-Pro honors, but somehow not a Pro Bowl. Then followed up with another 121 tackles in year 2, but his 7 interceptions and 12 sacks are eye-popping numbers when you think about him being a Linebacker. He’s got the length, range, size and speed to be the best Linebacker in the league in the modern day NFL.
  8. Jamal Adams
    • Adams might be the best Safety in the league, and he is what people want Isaiah Simmons to turn out to be. In 2019, Adams played 75 snaps as an EDGE rusher, played in the box, in the slot, and could roam deep. Pretty impressive stuff there…things like that are why it’s easy to side with a player come a contract dispute.
  9. Myles Garrett
    • Garrett was on his way to having his best season before the ugly suspension. Through 10 games he had 10 sacks, 18 QB hits and a 91.6 pass-rush grade that trailed only Joey Bosa and J.J. Watt. In 2018, Garrett posted nearly 30 QB hits, to go along with 13.5 sacks. He’s a guy that very well might reset the market for DE’s.
  10. Nick Bosa
    • The first, first-year guy coming into year 2 on the list. Bosa stepped in and immediately made his presence felt among a D-line that was already stacked. Aldon Smith had the previous record of QB pressures from a rookie with 64, Bosa broke that record with 80. His sack numbers weren’t gaudy, and fellow rookies like Maxx Crosby beat him out in that department, but Bosa always seemed to be around the QB. 9 sacks, but the 25 QB hits with a 17.2% pressure rate is what might be even more impressive, and when you consider the 1-on-1’s he gets, those sack numbers year 2 should be among league leaders.
  11. Kenny Clark
    • Kind of a sleeper on this list, and a 1-technique probably doesn’t get people overly excited when you put him above more notable skill-position names. But Kenny Clark is one of the very few 1-tech’s we see that doesn’t have to come off the field. The kind that can stalemate 2 OL at the LOS and plug the run, or generate pressure up the middle to get the sack. Which, to me, seeing pressure up the middle is a whole lot worse than seeing it come off the edge. He had a 90.9 pass-rush grade when lined up over the Center in 2019, and his 16.5 sacks over 4 years is impressive when you look at others who play the 1-tech. And for a guy of his size, Clark played 84% of the Packers’ defensive snaps in 2019.
  12. Nick Chubb
    • Kind of a shocker to have Chubb over Barkley, but Nick Chubb has been an absolute beast since entering the league. He’s the only back to post a rushing grade of over 90 and has forced the most missed tackles in the league over that 2-year span. His 1,980 yards after contact trail only Derrick Henry, and to think that he’s ran for 2,490 and nearly 80% of that have come after contact is downright impressive. He may not play long with those numbers, but for now he’s a great, pure RB.
  13. Saquon Barkley
    • Part of what makes Barkley so good is that his rookie year shouldn’t have surprised anyone. He made people miss, made them look stupid, had defender’s shaking in the open field, etc. But when you know that’s what his game is about, then see it and it still amazes you, that’s when you know it’s truly special. But Barkley’s disappointing Sophomore year, and being at the mercy of poor play-calling and a bad OL, put him just behind Chubb as he has dealt with the same OL and coaching issues. If the Giants’ plan for the OL starts to pan out, Barkley is a top-5 guy on this list.
  14. Marcus Williams
    • Williams begins our run of DB’s; 6 in the next 7 spots. He’s one of the best, most unsung defenders in the league, Marcus Williams is another Saints draft hit they’ve had recently. Although targets don’t come his way very often, Williams has posted 10 INT’s and 23 PBU’s in 3 years. In 2017 and 2019, Williams posted at least 8 INT’s and PBU’s on fewer than 25 targets.
  15. Chris Godwin
    • Godwin stepped up with the temporary loss of Mike Evans in 2019 and played extremely well. In an article I recently did about him hitting free agency, I believe that 2019 year was huge for him regardless of what 2020 brings. Because he had so much value as the #2 and #1, you can clearly see what Godwin brings, even if 2020’s Tampa Bay roster has a lot of mouths to feed, he can still get his money based on 2019. 63% of his routes came out of the Slot, and went for 86 catches, 1,333 yards and 9 TD’s in 2019 (with Winston throwing 30 INT’s).
  16. Marlon Humphrey
    • Humphrey’s PBU’s over the last 3 seasons have only trailed Darius Slay, Stephon Gilmore, and Kyle Fuller, Humphrey is a lock-down Corner on one of the most complete defenses in the league that only got better this off-season. in 2018, Humphrey allowed a completion percentage of just 47% on 89 targets.
  17. Marshon Lattimore
    • Lattimore’s rookie season was downright filthy. He got it immediately, but the last 2 seasons have seen a steady drop in production. After a 5-interception rookie campaign, Lattimore has posted 3 over the last 2 seasons, and a 64% completion percentage in 2018. That number dropped to 50% in 2019, but Lattimore’s complete body of work put him on this list. He’s a guy any team would take
  18. Adoree’ Jackson
    • Another underrated DB in the league. Jackson was thought to be a slight reach on draft night, but has panned out to be a really, really good CB in the league. He’s only had 2 INT’s in his career, but over 3 seasons, Jackson has 33 PBU’s with 22 of them coming at least 20 yards or more downfield, but he’s had 13 penalties due to PI, illegal use of hands, or holding. However, in 2018, playing 92% of the team’s snaps, he had just 2 penalties all year after 9 his rookie season.
  19. Derwin James
    • To put it simply, Derwin James is a bigger Jamal Adams with a smaller body of work. The way I compiled this list was I took about 40 players that qualified, then checked other lists around the web to see if I missed anyone obvious. All of those lists have James ahead of Adams, and even in the top-10. He plays the same exact positions Adams plays, but slightly less effectiveness but his injury filled 2019 drops him below other DB’s who have been doing it just as well for longer and have stayed healthier. If I were factoring in projections going forward, James is top-10.
  20. Minkah Fitzpatrick
    • The Fitzpatrick trade was odd last year. It seemed to have come out of nowhere, and after Miami never really put up a fight to keep him, it was actually understandable that a 2nd year guy could have so much leverage. After they acquired Fitzpatrick, the Steelers finished the last 14 games giving up the 2nd fewest yards on completed passes of at least 20-yards. Fitzpatrick’s impact was immediately felt at the FS position, and pairs nicely with the young pass rushers and LB group.
  21. Dalvin Cook
    • I felt as if Dalvin Cook was a result of the Vikings’ consistent ground attack, but the games he’s missed throughout his career you can see a huge change in the effectiveness of that ground game. His numbers aren’t gaudy, and in 2019 broke the 1k yard barrier for the first time with 1,135 in 14 games with 13 touchdowns. He’s missed 19 games in 3 seasons, but 2019 was a glimpse of what this guy can do and with he trade of Diggs, and what I thought was the best draft this year, the stage is set for Diggs to have a huge year.
  22. Courtland Sutton
    • The most underrated receiver in the league in my opinion. Sutton is part of a group that has everything in place for 2nd year QB Drew Lock to take off if in fact he’s the guy. Despite the inconsistency at QB in 2019, Sutton managed to pull in 72 catches for 1,112 yards and 6 TD’s. He may find himself in the Chris Godwin predicament in 2020 with the weapons available, but it shouldn’t take away from how talented Sutton really is.
  23. A.J. Brown
    • My candidate for the 2019 Offensive ROY. AJ Brown posted an incredible stat of being the first receiver ever to have over 1k yards with fewer than 100 targets (84). Brown had 52 catches for 1,051 yards and 8 TD’s. His 9 yards after-the-catch led all receivers, and finished top-5 in missed tackles as well. Also, Tennessee ranked 4th in the most plays ran out of 2 WR sets; asking Brown to do everything in the run game, to having to beat man and double-coverages.
  24. Fred Warner
    • From a pure tackling standpoint, Warner is as good as anyone. He’s a standout LB on an elite defense. Although he has the right people in-front of him to make plays, he still has to make those plays, and he’s the QB of that defense. In 2 seasons, Warner has 242 tackles, 174 of those are solo, has made all 32 starts, and averages less than 1 missed tackle per game.
  25. Tremaine Edmunds
    • This final spot was a tough decision; this came down to Maxx Crosby, Josh Jacobs, and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Much like Warner, Edmunds is a stud LB the Quarterbacks an elite defense. With 236 total tackles in 2 years, Edmunds is the epitome of the kind of player it takes to play in Buffalo and is the Luke Kuechly to Sean McDermott’s defense. After a missed tackle percentage of slightly over 16% his rookie year, Edmunds cut that down to below 10% in 2019. Sean McDermott has said Edmunds’ leadership has taken huge steps and has done a tremendous job of making the adjustments and putting teammates in the best possible position.

Fringe Players:

  • Josh Jacobs
    • If it weren’t for A.J. Brown, Jacobs was my pick for Offensive ROY. Jacobs brought a great level of physicality to the Raider run game. He ran for more yards than Dalvin Cook did in 13 games. He was also a monster in yards-after-contact, but the Raider O-Line is also a favorite of mine, and with All-Pros and Pro Bowlers like Gabe Jackson, Rodney Hudson, Richie Incognito and the young Kolton Miller who is getting better every year, there are a lot of guys IMO who could have done what Jacobs did.
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster
    • Schuster just misses this list because I’m not necessarily buying the talent without AB. As crazy as that guy is, AB may have been right about him. Now it all gets thrown out after Big Ben got hurt, but JuJu is in a huge make-or-break year even with past production.
  • Terry McLaurin
    • McLaurin had some really bright moments his rookie year, but the team was awful, and I can’t help but feel had they been in closer contention in more games, his production would have slid.
  • Maxx Crosby
    • The best player not to make this list. Had I made it 26 players, Crosby makes it. His 11 sacks were impressive, his relentlessness was great to watch and the complete disregard for his body made him look like he was another Watt brother.
  • Denzel Ward  
    • Recently in my worst 1st round pick article, Ward was just a victim of players taken in his same draft position that ended becoming All-Pros. Can’t hold that against him there, but Ward has been a stud in his 2 seasons. In 25 games, he has given up 1 TD and has allowed completion percentages slightly above and below 50%.
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