We’ll continue to find unique ways to rank players in different categories. Today, the top 25 NFL players under the age of 25. It was amazing to us how often we had to exclude players who just turned 25. Chris Johnson, Clay Matthews, Calvin Johnson, etc. But I suppose that’s the point — these are players who are still in that development stage, the budding stars of the NFL.
1. Ndamukong Suh (DT, Detroit Lions)
The Nebraska product was an All-Pro in his rookie season. He might already be the top defensive tackle in football.
2. Josh Freeman (QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Mr. Clutch had 24 touchdown passes and only six interceptions in his sophomore season.
3. DeSean Jackson (WR, Philadelphia Eagles)
People worried about his size when he dropped to the 49th spot in the 2008 draft, but the dude has crushed expectations as both a receiver and a return man.
4. Mike Wallace (WR, Pittsburgh Steelers)
Arguably the NFL’s fastest receiver, he’s already the most dangerous weapon on one of the best teams in football.
5. Hakeem Nicks (WR, New York Giants)
Over 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns in only 12 games in 2010.
6. Jamaal Charles (RB, Kansas City Chiefs)
That ridiculous 6.0 yard-per-carry over his first three years is pretty much unprecedented.
7. Arian Foster (RB, Houston Texans)
Despite going undrafted in 2009, he led the league in rushing in 2010.
8. Devin McCourty (CB, New England Patriots)
McCourty emerged out of nowhere to save a Patriots defense that was struggling badly early in the season. At 23, he’s already an All-Pro.
9. Percy Harvin (WR, Minnesota Vikings)
The 2009 offensive rookie of the year already has an All-Pro honor under his belt. His career path has pretty much mirrored that of DeSean Jackson.
10. LeSean McCoy (RB, Philadelphia Eagles)
Helping the Eagles forget about Brian Westbrook, McCoy amassed 1,672 rushing/receiving yards in his second pro season.
11. Sam Bradford (QB, St. Louis Rams)
On a fairly bad team, he completed 60 percent of his passes for over 3,500 yards in his rookie campaign.
12. Maurkice Pouncey (C, Pittsburgh Steelers)
The youngest guy on this list played a pivotal role in Pittsburgh’s run to Super Bowl XLV.
13. Jeremy Maclin (WR, Philadelphia Eagles)
He fell just short of 1,000 yards while scoring 10 times in his second season. This list makes you realize how young and dangerous the Eagles’ offense is.
14. Eric Berry (S, Kansas City Chiefs)
How about 92 tackles, four picks and two sacks in year one? This guy is the NFL’s next superstar safety.
15. Ray Rice (RB, Baltimore Ravens)
If not for a fairly disappointing 2010 season, Rice would be significantly higher on this list.
16. Ryan Clady (OT, Denver Broncos)
Another 2009 All-Pro. He struggled with injuries in 2010, but Clady’s still one of the best left tackles in football.
17. Brian Orakpo (LB, Washington Redskins)
In two seasons with a bad team, 19.5 sacks isn’t too shabby. But Orakpo’s numbers don’t tell the whole story.
18. Darren McFadden (RB, Oakland Raiders)
Only Foster, Charles and Maurice Jones-Drew were more productive on a per-game basis in 2010. The former No. 4 overall pick has finally arrived.
19. Earl Thomas (S, Seattle Seahawks)
Thomas was stellar as a rookie, forcing six turnovers (one more than Berry) while bringing it in all 16 games.
20. Tracy Porter (CB, New Orleans Saints)
He’s already established himself as a defensive back who rises to the occasion in the big moments.
21. B.J. Raji (NT, Green Bay Packers)
Without the big man, there’s no way the Pack would’ve been able to pull up such a successful conversion to the 3-4 and land in the Super Bowl a year later.
22. Joe Haden (CB, Cleveland Browns)
The 7th overall pick forced seven turnovers despite not starting for more than half of his rookie season.
23. Vontae Davis (CB, Miami Dolphins)
He built on a fantastic rookie year with five picks in 2010.
24. Mike Iupati (G, San Francisco 49ers)
The all-rookie team’s starting left guard has already become one of the most reliable interior offensive linemen in football.
25. Bryan Bulaga (OT, Green Bay Packers)
The No. 23 overall pick brought some consistency to a once-shaky offensive line in 2010. He’ll be a fixture in Green Bay for years to come.