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PFF's top 25 NFL players under 25 for 2019


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PFF's top 25 NFL players under 25 for 2019

QB Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

Age at kickoff: 23 years, 11 months, 20 days

The now third-year quarterback is coming off a simply sensational 2018 season that rightfully ended with MVP honors. Mahomes’ overall grade of 92.9 is currently tied with 2013 Peyton Manning for the ninth-best grade of the PFF era (2006 – present), and his 134.2 passer rating from a clean pocket is the highest single-season mark of the PFF era among signal-callers with at least 500 dropbacks. Long may it continue.

 

QB Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

Age at kickoff: 24 years, 4 months, 23 days

We’ve watched many memorable rookie seasons over the last 13 years, but few were as good as Baker Mayfield’s arrival to the big time. Mayfield managed a big-time throw rate of 7.3% that ranked third among his peers a season ago, and he finished the year with an overall grade of 84.5 – the second-best mark ever recorded by a rookie quarterback. The future is indeed bright in Cleveland.

QB Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans

Age at kickoff: 23 years, 11 months, 23 days

ACL injury and offensive line issues aside, it’s been so far so good for Watson and the Texans. Over the last two years, Watson has earned an overall grade of 79.1 that ranks 17th among qualifying quarterbacks in that span, while his 111.7 passer rating from a clean pocket is good for fourth among the 54 quarterbacks with at least 100 clean-pocket attempts. Not only that, but he’s also managed to produce a successful play on 35.8% of his pressured dropbacks since 2017, which ranks behind only Peyton Manning (37.7%), Matt Ryan(36.6%) and Ben Roethlisberger (36.6%) as the fourth-best mark of the PFF era.

QB Jared GoffLos Angeles Rams

Age at kickoff: 24 YEARS, 10 MONTHS, 24 DAYS

After a disappointing rookie year with Jeff Fisher at the helm, the former No. 1 overall pick has blossomed in the subsequent years with Sean McVay. His 2018 season was his best year to date; he ended the regular season with an 85.5 overall grade, and he finished eighth in the NFL in clean-pocket big-time throw percentage (5.45%) on the year.

RB Alvin KamaraNew Orleans Saints

Age at kickoff: 24 YEARS, 1 MONTH, 12 DAYS

Now three years into his NFL career, Kamara has been almost unstoppable in the Saints’ offense. His two-year rushing grade of 87.9 ranks fifth among backs with at least 100 attempts in that span, while his two-year receiving grade of 92.6 ranks first.

RB Kareem HuntCleveland Browns

Age at kickoff: 24 YEARS, 1 MONTH

When he’s on the field, there is arguably no better tackle-breaking back in the NFL than Kareem Hunt. He’s forced 104 missed tackles over the last two seasons, which is the most among backs in that span, and he’s averaged 0.22 missed tackles forced per rushing attempt which is tied for third among the backs with at least 100 attempts over the last two seasons.

RB Saquon BarkleyNew York Giants 

Age at kickoff: 22 YEARS, 6 MONTHS, 30 DAYS

Saquon Barkley was as advertised: he nothing short of sensational in his rookie year. In his 16 games, Barkley racked up 1,307 rushing yards from his 261 attempts, with 872 of those yards coming after contact (the fourth-most by a rookie running back in the PFF era). However, as great as Barkley was as a runner, his real value came from his receiving snaps, where he caught 91 of his 114 targets (both of which broke PFF records for a rookie) for 721 yards. His average of 1.54 yards per route run ranked 10th among the league’s backs last year, but his 31 missed tackles forced as a receiver set a record for the most by a rookie running back in the PFF era.

 

WR JuJu Smith-SchusterPittsburgh Steelers

Age at kickoff: 22 years, 9 months, 15 days

With Antonio Brown now out of town, the thankless task of carrying the Pittsburgh passing attack will fall on the young shoulders of third-year receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, but that’s a task that he’s proved to be more than capable of doing. After running 64.4% of his career routes from the slot, Smith-Schuster has amassed the most slot-receiving yards of any wide receiver (1,342) over the last two years, while his 110.0 slot WR rating ranks seventh among qualifying pass-catchers in that span.

 

TE O.J. HowardTampa Bay Buccaneers

Age at kickoff: 24 years, 9 months, 18 days

Howard bounced back from an underwhelming rookie campaign and showed us exactly what he was capable of in Year 2. He ended the 2018 season as our third-highest graded tight end, and his average of 2.26 yards per route run ranked third among the 64 tight ends with at least 100 snaps in route.

Quenton NelsonIndianapolis Colts

Age at kickoff: 23 YEARS, 5 MONTHS, 18 DAYS

The former Notre Dame standout allowed just 23 pressures on 730 pass-blocking snaps in 2018, and his resulting pressure percentage of 3.4% ranked 12th among guards with at least 200 snaps last year. Nelson finished a superb rookie season with an overall grade of 74.3 and a pass-blocking grade of 81.9, good for sixth and 13th among guards last year, respectively. He’ll be a key cog in the ever-evolving Colts machine for years to come.

DI Kenny ClarkGreen Bay Packers

Age at kickoff: 23 YEARS, 11 MONTHS, 2 DAYS

During his time in the NFL, Clark has shown the ability to impact the game in multiple areas, and he has earned the right to be considered one of the league’s better interior defenders. A season ago, he led his team in quarterback pressures (46) — a tough feat for a player rushing from the interior of the line — and he also led his team in run stops (28).

Edge Yannick NgakoueJacksonville Jaguars

Age at kickoff: 24 YEARS, 5 MONTHS, 6 DAYS

Yannick Ngakoue has developed into one of the most productive pass rushers in the entire league over the last three years. His 193 quarterback pressures since 2016 are the ninth-most among edge defenders in that span, and his pass-rushing grade of 83.3 ranks 16th among the 90 edge defenders with at least 500 snaps.

Edge Danielle HunterMinnesota Vikings

Age at kickoff: 24 YEARS, 10 MONTHS, 8 DAYS

Like Ngakoue, Danielle Hunter has, in his own right, earned the right to be in the conversation about the league’s best young pass rushers. His 190 pressures since 2016 are tied with Frank Clark for the 11th-most among all edge defenders in that span, while his 8.0 pass-rushing productivity rating ranks 15th among the 90 edge defenders with at least 500 snaps.

Edge Joey BosaLos Angeles Chargers

Age at kickoff: 24 years, 1 month, 26 days

When Bosa is healthy and on the field, there is arguably no stronger force in the pass-rush. Among the 85 edge defenders who have logged at least 500 pass-rushing snaps since 2016, Bosa’s win rate (21.0%) and pressure rate (21.2%) both rank first.

 

Edge Myles GarrettCleveland Browns

Age at kickoff: 23 YEARS, 8 MONTHS, 8 DAYS

Now heading into Year 3 of his career, Garrett has been as exactly as advertised since he was drafted with the first overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. His 86.2 pass-rushing grade in Year 2 of his career currently ranks eighth among the 80 edge defenders with 300 or more pass-rushing snaps in their second season in the league. The only men ahead of him on the list: Von Miller (93.1), Joey Bosa (91.3), Shawn Merriman (90.6), Yannick Ngakoue (90.5), Khalil Mack (90.5), Cameron Wake (90.1) and Elvis Dumervil (88.1). The odds are that he’ll continue to dominate from the edge for the foreseeable future.

LB Leighton Vander EschDallas Cowboys

Age at kickoff: 23 YEARS, 6 MONTHS, 29 DAYS

Vander Esch ended his rookie season as one of only four linebackers who earned grades north of 80.0 in run defense and coverage, while his overall grade of 84.9 was good for fourth among all players at the position. The former Boise State Bronco’s 54 total stops were the fifth-most among linebackers, and his five forced incompletions in coverage are good for fourth-most among rookies. It may only be one year, but the Cowboys seem to have secured the next great star at the linebacker position.

LB Darius LeonardIndianapolis Colts

Age at kickoff: 24 YEARS, 1 MONTH, 10 DAYS

While Leonard’s raw tackle totals jumped off the page throughout his rookie season, they shouldn’t take away from an incredibly promising performance in all facets of the game. He earned overall grades north of 70.0 as a run defender (70.8), a tackler (85.4), pass rusher (73.4) and as a coverage defender (84.8). He’ll be a key component of Matt Eberflus’ defense moving forward.

LB Deion JonesAtlanta Falcons

Age at kickoff:24 YEARS, 10 MONTHS, 2 DAYS

One of the NFL’s premier coverage linebackers, and therefore one of the most valuable players at his position, Jones has earned a coverage grade of 91.6 over the last two seasons, which ranks second among linebackers in that span. His 12.2 forced incompletion percentage ranks first among qualifying linebackers since 2017, and his 81.0 passer rating allowed ranks second.

CB Jalen RamseyJacksonville Jaguars 

Age at kickoff: 24 YEARS, 10 MONTHS, 13 DAYS

Over the last three seasons, only Casey Hayward Jr. (91.9), Chris Harris Jr. (91.6), A.J. Bouye (91.5) and Desmond King II (91.3) have earned a higher coverage than Ramsey (90.9), who has allowed a passer rating of just 72.1 over that time.

CB Tre’Davious WhiteBuffalo Bills

Age at kickoff: 24 years, 7 months, 21 days

White has been more than solid over the course of his two-year career so far, and he has earned a two-year coverage grade of 83.3 for his efforts. Since 2018, he’s allowed just 51.9% of his targets to be caught, and he has allowed a passer rating of just 69.1 on throws into his primary coverage.

CB Marshon LattimoreNew Orleans Saints

Age at kickoff: 23 years, 3 months, 17 days

Lattimore has earned an 88.7 coverage grade over the last two years in the league, and he figures to be a difference-maker at the position maker for years to come. Since 2017, the former Ohio State corner has allowed a passer rating of just 68.8 on throws into his primary coverage – fifth among cornerbacks with at least 100 targets in that span.

CB Marlon HumphreyBaltimore Ravens 

Age at kickoff: 23 years, 1 month, 29 days

Humphrey will enter his third year in the NFL as arguably the most important player on the Ravens’ defense, but his play over the last two seasons has proved that he’s more than up to up to that daunting title. Humphrey has amassed 37 forced incompletions over the last two seasons — the seventh-most among cornerbacks in that timeframe — and his 65.7 passer rating allowed is the third-best mark among those with at least 500 coverage snaps.

 

CB Denzel WardCleveland Browns

Age at kickoff: 22 years, 4 months, 9 days

Injuries took their toll on Ward towards the end of his rookie season, but his early-season play is yet another great sign for the future of Cleveland. In his 13 games, Ward allowed a passer rating of just 70.7 on throws into his coverage, and he yielded an average of 0.88 yards per coverage snap – both of which ranked fourth among first-year cornerbacks.

Derwin JamesLos Angeles Chargers

Age at kickoff: 23 YEARS, 1 MONTH, 3 DAYS

Our Defensive Rookie of the Year for 2018, James figures to be a lethal weapon on the defensive side of the ball for years to come. In his 16 games last season, James has proved to be a jack-of-all-trades, and out of his 1027 defensive snaps, he logged 205 on the defensive line, 418 in the box, 166 as a slot cornerback, 22 as a perimeter cornerback and 216 as a free safety. His 19 total quarterback pressures and 40 defensive stops both ranked first among first-year players at the position, and he allowed a passer rating of just 71.8 on throws into his primary coverage.

Jamal AdamsNew York Jets

Age at kickoff: 23 YEARS, 10 MONTHS, 20 DAYS

In 2018, Adams earned grades north of 77.0 in all four facets of our defensive grading system: run defense, tackling, pass rushing and coverage. The scary thing? He only seems to be getting better. He improved his pressure rate as a pass rusher from 13.7% in 2017 to 28.1% in 2018 and the passer rating he allowed into his coverage plummeted from 124.7 in Year 1 to 67.6 in Year 2.

 

 

 

 

 

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Just missed: NFL players outside the top 25 under 25

QB Sam Darnold, New York Jets

Age at kickoff: 22 years, 3 months, 1 day

Darnold had his fair share of ups and downs last year, but his performances down the stretch should give the New York Jets’ fanbase hope for the future. From Week 14 on, Darnold produced eight big-time throws and just two turnover-worthy passes, and perhaps more impressively, he recorded a 118.5 passer rating from a clean pocket — the second-best mark among all quarterbacks in that span.

RB Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys 

Age at kickoff: 24 years, 1 month, 15 days

There’s no doubt that Ezekiel Elliott is one of the top players at his position, but it’s hard to overlook the fact that his production is, in large part, thanks to the offense that Dallas has built around him. Over the last three years, Elliott ranks first in rushing attempts (868), rushing yards (4048), rushing yards after contact (2567) and first down conversions (219). However, his three-year rushing grade of 80.2 ranks ninth among the 36 backs with at least 300 attempts in that span, while his 0.119 missed tackles forced per attempt ranks tied for 27th among the same group.

 

WR Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Age at kickoff: 23 years, 6 months, 10 days

The second-year pass-catcher has quietly made his mark as a part of a Tampa Bay receiving corps that has also included big-name players like Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard. Godwin has made his looks in the passing count over the last two years; he’s earned a two-year overall grade of 84.5 that ranks 15th among the 186 qualifying players in that time, while his two-year contested-catch rate of 54.5% ranks ninth among those with at least 100 targets.

 

DI Da’Shawn Hand, Detroit Lions

Age at kickoff: 23 years, 9 months, 23 days

As a fourth-round rookie out of Alabama, interior defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand made an instant impact on Matt Patricia’s defense, and he figures to do so for years to come. He ended the 2018 regular season with an overall grade of 87.4 that ranked 16th among all qualifying interior defensive linemen, while his pass-rush win rate of 11.1% ranked second among all first-year players at the position.

Edge Carl Lawson, Cincinnati Bengals

Age at kickoff: 24 years, 2 months, 8 days

A torn ACL in Week 8 of the 2018 season deprived us of what looked like another great season for the former Auburn edge defender, but we’ve already seen enough to know just how dominant Lawson can be when he’s healthy and on the field. Over the last two seasons, Lawson has produced 84 total pressures, and his pass-rush win rate 20.1% ranks fifth among all edge defenders with at least 100 pass-rush snaps in that two-year span.

Edge T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers

Age at kickoff: 24 years, 10 months, 26 days

Watt 3.0 started the 2018 season with a bang. He racked up 10 sacks, eight hits and 15 hurries from his 289 pass-rushing snaps, but as PFF’s Austin Gayle wrote in December, those numbers were largely thanks to the scheme in which he played as opposed to him repeatedly beating the man in front of him. However, from Week 13 on, it was a different story, and he displayed all the traits that make him a fascinating player to watch moving forward. His 85.8 pass-rush grade from Week 13 on tied for fifth among all edge defenders, while his pass-rush win rate of 26.6% over that span paced the league.

 

Edge Bradley Chubb, Denver Broncos

Age at kickoff: 23 years, 2 months, 13 days

From a box score standpoint, Bradley Chubb couldn’t have done much more for the Broncos in his first year in the league. He racked up 13 sacks, eight hits and 37 quarterback hurries across his 456 pass-rushing snaps on the year, and his 58 total pressures not only ranked first among rookie edge defenders, but they were the 19th-most among all players at the position.

LB Myles Jack, Jacksonville Jaguars

Age at kickoff: 24 years, 3 days

The former UCLA standout has put the pre-draft injury concerns far behind him over his last three years in the league. Jack has played 2,486 defensive snaps since 2016, and he’s earned both a run-defense grade and coverage grade above 70.0. His three-year coverage grade of 82.3 ranks tied for eighth among the 54 linebackers with at least 100 targets in that time.

CB Desmond King IILos Angeles Chargers

AGE AT KICKOFF: 24 YEARS, 8 MONTHS, 23 DAYS

King has developed into arguably the league’s best slot specialist over the last two years. He’s the only defensive player with at least 300 slot coverage snaps over the last two years who has earned an elite slot-coverage grade (91.3), and he leads all cornerbacks in slot-coverage stops over that span (41).

 

S Keanu Neal, Atlanta Falcons

Age at kickoff: 24 years, 1 month, 11 days

Along with the loss of linebacker Deion Jones, the injury to safety Keanu Neal was another major factor in the Falcons’ playoff-less season. Up until his injury, Neal had proved to be an impact player in every facet of the game. Since 2016, Neal earned a grade above 70.0 as a run defender (74.9), a coverage defender (78.1) and as a pass-rusher (73.2), making him one of only 15 safeties to achieve that feat over that span.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sidenote:

https://www.profootballfocus.com/news/pro-top-10-nfl-comeback-player-of-the-year-candidates-in-2019

 

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Top 10 NFL Comeback Player of the Year candidates in 2019

 

LB Deion Jones, Atlanta Falcons

You can make the case that Deion Jones’ early-season injury played a pivotal role in the Falcons’ struggle to make the playoffs last year, as his presence as a coverage ace across the middle of the field can not be overstated. In 2017, Jones ranked sixth in forced incompletion percentage (12.3), tied for third in total coverage stops (22), tied for sixth in passer rating allowed (79.3) and tied for seventh in yards allowed per reception (7.9) among the 74 off-ball linebackers with at least 25 targets in coverage that season. His three-year coverage grade of 90.5 falls behind only Luke KuechlyJordan Hicks, and Bobby Wagner in that span.

With Jones in the lineup during 2017, the Falcons’ linebackers collectively earned a coverage grade of 90.1, forced an incompletion on 9.4% of their targets, and allowed 38.6 yards per game. Without him in the lineup in 2018, they collectively earned a coverage grade of 53.1, they forced an incompletion on just 1.8% of their targets, and they allowed 110 yards per game. Jones’ return to the fold is invaluable to the Falcons’ defense, and he has the chance to show it in 2019.

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6 minutes ago, FalconFanSince1970 said:

Dam. Browns have four players on the list and possibly added two more in last month's draft. I believe they are getting ready to beat some as for several years.

They have some alot of really good young talent.... The only thing that i can see hurting them is who on their team has done it..... The HC is new at it too.. OBJ is a beast but he hasnt done it ....... I want to see what they do with this talent because it is there

 

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1 hour ago, jlrfalcon said:

Whoever came up with this list seems very defensive minded?  It has 5 CB's and only 1 WR plus has no OL but tons of rushers.  I am not certain Ridley is worthy of being top 25 under 25 but he should have at least been on the just missed list.  

I thought Ridley was bout 40

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11 hours ago, FalconFanSince1970 said:

Dam. Browns have four players on the list and possibly added two more in last month's draft. I believe they are getting ready to beat some as for several years.

11 straight losing seasons and 15 out of the last 16 seasons typically is going to eventually lead to a team getting some good young players. Surprised it took them this long.

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That's the crazy thing about this defense. They're so young:

Debo: 23
Neal: 23 
Takk: 23
Vic: 26 
Grady: 26
Senat: 24
Campbell: 25
Kazee: 25
Oliver: 22
Tru: 28
Rico: 27

Think about that. That's a lot of young talent. The oldest guys are Tru and Rico. Even if you replace both those guys in the next two years, your oldest players would be Grady and Vic at that point (assuming both are kept). 

Ironically, that's a starting nickel defense already....

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5 hours ago, vel said:

That's the crazy thing about this defense. They're so young:

Debo: 23
Neal: 23 
Takk: 23
Vic: 26 
Grady: 26
Senat: 24
Campbell: 25
Kazee: 25
Oliver: 22
Tru: 28
Rico: 27

Think about that. That's a lot of young talent. The oldest guys are Tru and Rico. Even if you replace both those guys in the next two years, your oldest players would be Grady and Vic at that point (assuming both are kept). 

Ironically, that's a starting nickel defense already....

Funny enough that is our starting defense sans Senat/Kazee

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