The NFL is in a golden era in terms of young talent. Nearly every team has a young player that figures to be the face of the franchise. Right now, players like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and JJ Watt are widely recognized as the face of the shield. However, fans are always looking for the next best thing.
Indeed, we are nearing the end of an era. That means we are at the start of a new era and that is not a reference to the hat company. On the contrary, the league is in the midst of a youth overhaul.
With that being said, let’s see what it would look like building a team with players at the age of 25-and-under. This squad was built based on sustained success by the players individually, potential, and preference. There will be plenty of recognizable names with a few up-and-coming studs. Finally, “HM” is not for the clothing franchise. It stands for honorable mention.
Here are the players that would make up my dream squad:
Todd Gurley picked up more yards than any other running back on inside runs in 2017. pic.twitter.com/LPesnSwKKq
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 15, 2018
- QB: Carson Wentz (25) HM: Deshaun Watson (22)
- RB: Todd Gurley II (23) HM: Ezekiel Elliott (22)
- WR: Odell Beckham Jr. (25) HM: Mike Thomas (25)
- WR: Mike Evans (24) HM: Devante Adams (25)
- Slot: Jarvis Landry (25) HM: Tyreek Hill (24)
- TE: Hunter Henry (23)
- LT: Mike McGlinchey (23) HM: Trent Brown (25)
- LG: Quenton Nelson (22)
- C: Cody Whitehair (25)
- RG: Dan Feeney (24)
- RT: Jack Conklin (23)
Starting at quarterback, Wentz gets the nod over Watson because he has more experience in the NFL. Wentz appears to be on the fast track to becoming the face of the league. He easily wins league MVP last year if he stays healthy.
At tailback, Gurley, surprisingly, is only 23 years old. The 2017 Offensive Player of the Year is continuing the Los Angeles Rams tradition of having a stellar running back. Eric Dickerson, Marshall Faulk, and Steven Jackson might have to worry about some of their franchise records as TG23 is already top 10 in rushing yards (3,296) and touchdowns (29).
OBJ is arguably the game’s best receiver, depending on which way the wind is blowing. He would be accompanied by fellow 2014 draft mates, Evans and Landry. Landry is reliable like a Prius as he averages 100 catches over his four-year span. Evans averages a first down per snag with 14.8 yards per catch. OBJ is the smooth, luxurious Ferrari that only catches the ball with one hand in his sleep.
Henry is, by far, the best young tight end. He can help as a blocker, line up out wide, and control the middle of the field with the speed of a gazelle. Think of him as a jack-of-all-trades.
The offensive line would be a dream scenario for any quarterback. On the left side, you have the only rookies on this list in McGlinchey and Nelson. The Notre Dame linemen are like butter and toast as they go well together. Their chemistry would make Wentz feel secure. Whitehair is the conductor of a very special Chicago Bears offensive line. His recognition of blitz packages and directing the line is astounding for a young center. Lastly, the right side would feature the likes of Feeney and Conklin who are bulldozers. They would build lanes wide enough for a Mack truck to drive through.
Joey Bosa is now ranked #1 in PFF’s top 25 NFL players under 25 for 2018 pic.twitter.com/yYMqiOyrUA
— PFF LA Chargers (@PFF_Chargers) May 20, 2018
- DE: Joey Bosa (22)
- DT: Leonard Williams (23)
- DT: Dalvin Tomlinson (24)
- DE: Jadeveon Clowney (25) HM: Yannick Ngakoue (23)
- LB: Myles Jack (22)
- LB: Deion Jones (23) HM: Ryan Shazier (25)
- LB: Reuben Foster (24) HM: Jarrad Davis (23)
- CB: Jalen Ramsey (23) HM: Marshon Lattimore (22)
- CB: Marcus Peters (25)
- S: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (25)
- S: Landon Collins (24) HM: Kevin Byard (24)
The Alabama duo at safety would be something to gush over. Collins and Clinton-Dix are ballhawks at safety (20 interceptions combined), cover well, and offer a presence in the run game. In Tuscaloosa, they were like thunder and lightning.
Ramsey and Peters would combine to make one of the best trash talking duos the NFL has seen since Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson teamed up. They both excel in man coverage as they blanket guys in coverage. Lattimore is a special talent, but it is hard to choose him over established corners.
Shazier would easily make this list if it was not for his injury. Nevertheless, Jack, Jones, and Foster exemplify the new era linebackers. They have the speed of defensive backs with the power of a traditional linebacker. Not to mention, they can drop back into coverage and read quarterbacks like a book.
Clowney and Bosa are both freaks of nature coming off the edge. They are capable of a multi-sack performance on any given week. Tomlinson and Williams are two “Big Apple” interior d-linemen that are fleet of foot and have the uncanny ability to get to the quarterback. All of these players are interchangeable along the front and can provide pressure.
- Head Coach: Sean McVay
- Offensive Coordinator: Josh McDaniels
- Defensive Coordinator: Jim Schwartz
It makes sense to end this dream scenario with a coaching staff right? Well, McDaniels would bring his creative flare on offense and help Wentz utilize his weapons to the fullest extent the same way he has with Tom Brady.
Schwartz is the defensive coordinator of the Super Bowl champs, the Philadelphia Eagles. His familiarity with the 4-3 scheme, the Eagles’ boatload of talent. and personalities makes him a no-brainer.
Lastly, McVay is a young coach that did a good job coaching a young Los Angeles Rams team to the playoffs a year ago. He is a quarterback whisperer, helping the likes of Kirk Cousins and Jared Goff, and experience with young players is a bonus.
The youth movement is in full swing in the NFL as young players are littered throughout the league. Players like Wentz, Gurley, and Bosa are not waiting for their time to shine. They are simply taking center stage.