NFL Under-25 offensive team: Titans have most of the early team-mates behind AJ Brown, QB winks at Lamar Jackson
Young talent is extremely important when it comes to being successful in the NFL. Some argue that the salary cap is a myth, but it still exists, even though teams have been creative when it comes to signing free agents and restructuring current contracts. Having a star quarterback or extended wide receiver on a rookie deal expands your Super Bowl window even further, because someday you’ll have to break the bank to keep them.
This week on CBSSports.com, we’ll take a look at some of the best young players in the NFL as we build our Under-25 Offensive and Defensive teams. We’ve already discussed the top 25 NFL players under 25, but here we’re going to dive a little deeper into the individual players. For the first and second attacking teams under 25, we will take into consideration the performance of these players during their first seasons in the league, Sports Reference Approximate Value (AV) Tool then their future prospects. There are some really big names on this list, so let’s go and jump in there.
QB: Lamar Jackson (Ravens)
In his first full season as a Ravens starter in 2019, Jackson was named First Team All-Pro, made the Pro Bowl, led the NFL in touchdown passes and of course won the MVP. He was an unstoppable double-threat weapon who ran for 1,206 yards and seven touchdowns to go along with his 3,127 passing yards and 36 scores in the air. Jackson didn’t “regress” much in 2020, as the Ravens still finished 11-5, made the playoffs and got their playoff revenge against the Titans by beating them at Super Wild-Card Weekend. Although Jackson is an incredible athlete, some may still question his ability to consistently perform well on the pitch. According to ESPN, Jackson ranked 19th for throwing attempts from 20 or more yards down (45) and 24th for success rate on those passes (37.8%) last season. That could change in 2021, however, as the Ravens came out and signed Sammy Watkins in free agency and drafted Rashod Bateman. Jackson is a quarterback any NFL team would be happy to have, and his best football could be ahead of him. He is due to take an extension in the near future.
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RB Saquon Barkley (Giants)
Barkley sadly tore his ACL in Game 2 of the season last year, but we have reason to expect him to bounce back. When the Giants drafted him with the No.2 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, he quickly proved he was indeed the dynamic double-threat weapon we all love to watch on Saturdays at Penn State. He recorded 2,028 scrum yards, 15 touchdowns and won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award. An ankle injury forced him to miss three games in 2019, so the questions about his health are fair. But at the same time, “Saquads” is a physical specimen and is one of the best running backs in the league when in good health.
WR Justin Jefferson (Vikings)
As a rookie, Jefferson was fourth among all players with 1,400 receiving yards (which was an all-time record for a rookie) and ninth in receiving yards at 15.9. He didn’t even start the first two games of the season, but exploded to a career-high 175 receiving yards and a touchdown against the Titans in his first start in Week 3. Towards the end of the season, Jefferson said he started to see the defenses “disguise” their game plans around him, but that didn’t stop him. In fact, it only gave him confidence. Jefferson has recorded over 100 receiving yards in two of the last three games of the season. A star in the making.
WR DK Metcalf (Seahawks)
I was quite shocked to see Metcalf drop to 64th in the 2019 NFL Draft. Sure, he had some injury concerns from Ole Miss, but he was dominant every time he was on the field and also tore the combine. Metcalf caught 58 passes for 900 yards and seven touchdowns during his rookie season, and seven passes for 160 yards and one touchdown in Seattle’s 17-9 win over the Eagles – which was the Seahawks’ franchise record for receiving yards in a playoff game, as well as the NFL playoff record for any rookie. Metcalf capitalized on his rookie season capturing 83 passes for 1,303 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2020. His 81.4 yards per game ranked seventh among all receivers and tight ends, and he won his first offer. Pro Bowl and his second All-Pro team as well. He’s a big target who’s fast and can beat you down the line, and he’s only 23.
WR AJ Brown (Titans)
It’s pretty amazing that Metcalf and Brown shared the same land at Ole Miss. In his rookie season, Brown became the only player from the Super Bowl era to record over 1,000 receiving yards averaging over 20 receiving yards, according to NFL Research. Even after missing two of the first three games this season, Brown still rebounded to a career high in all areas and placed fifth among all receivers with 11 touchdowns. He’s dynamic on the pitch and defining a home hitter.
With the addition of Julio Jones, Brown could be even better in 2021.
TE TJ Hockenson (Lions)
I ranked Hockenson as the No. 5 tight end in the league heading into 2021. In his first full season, the former Iowa Hawkeye caught 67 passes for 723 yards and six touchdowns. He was fourth among all tight ends for receptions, third for yards and tied for ninth for touchdowns. Hockenson was dangerous working in midfield and efficient in the red zone. Plus, he’s proven to be a solid run blocker. The Lions aren’t an incredibly fun team to watch, but Hockenson should become a household name soon.
LT Jedrick Wills Jr. (Browns)
We had a few options for our first team left tackle, but Wills’ 8 on the Pro Football Reference’s Approximate Value (AV) scale justified his selection. He missed just one game in his rookie season and served as a blind blocker for Baker Mayfield, the former No. 1 overall pick having enjoyed his best NFL season yet. . Wills also helped pave the way for the talented duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, and looks to be the left tackle of the Cleveland franchise for years to come.
LG Connor Williams (Cowboys)
Williams was certainly not considered one of the best linemen in the Cowboys’ charged unit, but he stood up when the rest of the attacking front collapsed in 2020. He started in the 16 games for the first time in his career and recorded an AV, a career-high 8. With the rest of the return line in good health and Williams entering a year on contract, we expect him to. shows he is one of the best offensive linemen under 25 in 2021.
C Erik McCoy (Saints)
McCoy was drafted by the Saints in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft outside of Texas A&M, and started every game at center in his first two seasons. He posted an AV of 8 in 2019 and a AV of 9 last season – which was tied for sixth among all crosses. The Saints have a great offensive line, and McCoy is certainly a big part of it. They will help whoever replaces Drew Brees this season.
RG Nate Davis (Titans)
Davis was immediately pushed into the starting lineup as Charlotte’s 2019 third-round pick, and he was clearly a weak spot along the offensive line with a 30.1 grade PFF in weeks 1-14. However, he really improved it at the end of the year and posted a 71.5 rating in Week 15 in the Titans’ magical playoff run until the AFC Championship game. . Davis maintained that kind of consistency and posted an impressive AV of 10 in 2020, which was tied for fourth among all offensive guards. Davis has helped running back Derrick Henry lead the league by rushing for two straight years now, and has also helped him become the eighth player in NFL history to run over 2,000 yards in a single season.
RT Tristan Wirfs (buccaneers)
The Buccaneers made several big additions that helped them win Super Bowl LV, and Wirfs was one of them. The No.13 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft has played and started in all 16 games and allowed just one sack in 799 pass blocking snaps, according to PFF. Sure, Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback ever, but he’s not the most agile signalman in the NFL. He usually fell fair if a defender crossed the line last year, but Wirfs and that attacking front as a whole did a great job of keeping him on his feet.
QB: Kyler Murray (Cardinals)
RB: Josh Jacobs (Raiders)
WR: DJ Moore (Panthers), CeeDee Lamb (Cowboys), Chase Claypool (Steelers)
TE: Noah Fant (Broncos)
LT: Mekhi Becton (Jets)
LG: Michael Onwenu (patriots)
C: Lloyd Cushenberry III (Broncos)
RG: Damien Lewis (Seahawks)
RT: Chukwuma Okorafor (Steels)