Youthful talent is always the name of the game when it comes to being successful in professional sports, and that especially reigns true in the sport of football. The likes of Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, Kyler Murray, Nick Bosa, Jaire Alexander, and a whole plethora of others are helping bring the NFL to its next level, creating even more interest for the next generation of fans.
Now even though sports are all practically on hold due to the ongoing pandemic that is stopping most things around the world, the future still looks very bright for the NFL. Their 2020 NFL Draft took on a fully-digital tone this year, helping bring a sense of hope and positivity into the living rooms of fans everywhere, and the virtual offseason program looks to be in full effect for teams, as they are able to start to prepare for a regular season that as of right now is still on and set for its normal start date.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the best offensive players 25 years old or younger that are primed to be the next generation of talent for the NFL.
QB – Kyler Murray (22)
As an aside, Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson could easily be the go-to guys here and obviously have enough of a track record to justify that, but seeing as how they both turn 25 in September this year, wanted to keep the applicable players under 25 for the 2020 season.
The Arizona Cardinals shocked a few people when they decided to take quarterback Kyler Murray out of Oklahoma with the first overall selection in the 2019 draft, even while the team had incumbent QB Josh Rosen ready and capable to become their guy of the future. New head coach Kliff Kingsbury had an obvious desire to add his guy into their offensive scheme, and Murray, who was first drafted by the Oakland Athletics but decided to go pro in football alone, was the guy that Kingsbury decided that he wanted.
Taking a look at his up-and-down rookie campaign, and you will see the combination of skills and unpolished player that makes drafting a QB in the first round very difficult to bank on right away, much less taking one first overall. However, the uneven play that Murray produced Year One should actually help his case to be the next great QB in the league, not hurt him.
Having started all 16 games, the 5’10” former Sooner threw for 3,722 yards (15th in the league), 20 touchdowns (T-21st), and was picked off 12 times (T-20th), all while producing a 55.7 average quarterback rating, placing him 15th in that category.
Mediocrity aside, for a rookie QB to come in and put up a 1.67:1 TD to INT ratio in a new offensive scheme is an impressive feat, and now that he has Deandre Hopkins to throw too, as well as incumbent iron man Larry Fitzgerald and former Texas A&M star Christian Kirk, the target share for Murray should be glorious, and his ability to spread the ball around will only help improve his state as one of the best young guys in the league.
RB – Christian McCaffrey (23)
With many kudos given to Josh Jacobs, Austin Ekeler, Barkley, Alvin Kamara, Ezekiel Elliott, James Conner, and Joe Mixon, McCaffrey is the easy break winner here in terms of running back.
The recently-extended Carolina Panthers workhorse, dual-threat running back is back in 2020 to be the team’s focal point of an offense, but this time Teddy Bridgewater is the team’s QB and not the recently-released Cam Newton.
McCaffrey, along with Barkley, is both slated at the top of the Caesar sportsbook in terms of leading the NFL in rushing yardage, and if 2019 is any sort of a look at what ‘20 will entail, the rest of the league needs to be put on notice immediately.
Having played in all 16 games the first three years of his NFL career, McCaffrey absolutely broke out last year, rushing for 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns all while hauling in 116 balls for 1,005 yards and 4 touchdowns – a whopping 2,392 total yards and 19 total TDs. The offensive gameplan for Carolina looks to be changing slightly with new head coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Joe Brady taking the reigns, but the amount that McCaffrey will be fed this year should not change one bit.
TE – Noah Fant (22)
Between Noah Fant and Will Dissly, each player has certain characteristics that make them stand out from each other – but Fant takes the advantage here.
Coming out into the 2019 draft along with teammate and fellow tight end TJ Hockenson (drafted by the Detroit Lions), Fant has shown the ability to gel into the current Denver offense, as well as become a solid safety valve for young QB Drew Lock.
His 40 catches, 562 yards, and three touchdowns, in a microscope, don’t seem all that shocking, but Fant’s ability to stay healthy, stay consistent, and expand his role in the offense as the season went on shows that he has the tools to help lead the next generation of tight ends in this league.
With Courtland Sutton and Fant being joined by Alabama receiver Jerry Jeudy, the targets that Lock has now makes him a very solid QB going into his second year.
WR – Chris Godwin (24) & DJ Chark Jr. (23)
A few players that burst onto the scene with strong ‘19 seasons, both Chris Godwin and DJ Chark Jr. have shown the abilities to put up great numbers even with inconsistent QB play.
For Godwin, his situation next to Mike Evans presents each with solid abilities to put together 1,000+ yard seasons, and now that Tom Brady has joined the team in lieu of Jameis Winston leaving in free agency, Godwin should be able to reap the benefits of Brady’s style of play.
Even though deep balls may come more at a premium for Godwin with Brady favoring the underneath routes, Godwin’s role in the offense may shift to fit Brady’s style better, which in turn could make him the go-to target for Brady this year.
As for Chark, having Gardner Minshew under center presents a new can of worms to open up each and every week, but the team has enough trust in Minshew to trade away Nick Foles and essentially give him the spot right away. Chark’s role in the offense is the clear number one, even with Dede Westbrook playing a solid but oft-injured secondary role in the offense.
Offensive Line – T Orlando Brown Jr. (24), T Andrew Thomas (21), G Quenton Nelson (24), G Elgton Jenkins (24), C Frank Ragnow (23)
In a league where the hog mollies up front help dictate how well the offense carries out their gameplan, this grouping of five offensive linemen have shown, or in Andrew Thomas’ case, will show, their dominance in the NFL.
Starting at tackle, Baltimore Ravens rightt tackle Orlando Brown Jr.’s bloodline is a huge help in seeing his true potential in the league, and he has already shown his ability to hold down the right side, opposite Ronnie Stanley.
For Thomas, his ability to slide into the blindside protector role for the New York Giants should play right into his talents, which in turn will move high-priced veteran Nate Solder over to the right side.
At guard, road-graders Quenton Nelson and Elgton Jenkins look to both be superb interior line additions, but Nelson takes the cake over Jenkins here because of his proven abilities and his just sheer dominance of a defensive line.
Finally, at center, former Arkansas Razorback product Frank Ragnow is a solid guy for the Detroit Lions up the middle, and his young career has been proving how dominant he can be for many more years to come.