Top 25 NFL players 25 and under going into 2022 include Lamar Jackson, Chase Young, and others

Los Angeles Chargers QB Justin Herbert and Minnesota Vikings WR Justin Jefferson headline the list of the top 25 NFL players 25 or younger.

The NFL offseason is a time for optimism and hope. As teams look to push through the offseason program and training camp and improve from the year before, their biggest assets are young, ascending players who can make a difference down the road. With that in mind, Pro Football Network has created a list of the top 25 players who are 25 or under entering the 2022 season.

Top 25 NFL players 25 and under

Over the past three years, the NFL has undergone an exciting facelift with young talent. While every year brings a new batch of potential franchise faces, the last few draft classes have seen the cream quickly rise to the top. Players such as Los Angeles Chargers QB Justin Herbert, Minnesota Vikings wideout Justin Jefferson, and Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons have immediately set the league ablaze with their elite abilities.

That’s why PFN thought it’d be prudent to compile a list of the top 25 players who are 25 or under entering the 2022 season.

However, as with the game of football, there are some rules to this list. There are no members of the 2022 draft class, as none of them have played a lick of NFL football yet. Also, the players on this list had to be 25 or under as of Week 1 of the 2022 campaign. So, if a player turned 26 on Sept. 10, for instance, they weren’t included.

The quarterbacks

Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

Herbert, who turned 24 in March, has already thrown for 9,350 yards and 69 touchdowns in just 32 games. He won the 2020 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award and was named to last year’s Pro Bowl roster. While he has yet to push the Chargers over the playoff hump, he’s seen as one of the top talents of his draft class, which also includes Joe Burrow.

The 6-foot-6, 237-pound passer has already had two head coaches and two offensive coordinators. It’ll be interesting to see if he takes another massive leap in progress with a coaching staff remaining in place.

Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

Jackson, who turned 25 in January, is in a contract year. The 2019 NFL MVP dealt with injuries last season but is still a top-10 player at his position and should be paid as such.

While the Ravens tend to use Jackson’s mobility to their advantage, they haven’t done much to help him at the wideout position. Jackson, the best dual-threat QB in the game, often has to rely on his running backs and tight ends to pick up the slack in the passing attack. With Marquise “Hollywood” Brown now in Arizona, that trend will continue.

Even with the limitations at wideout over the years, Jackson has been a statistical juggernaut. He has thrown for 9,967 passing yards, ran for 3,673 rushing yards, and produced 105 total touchdowns over the past four seasons. He’s also made two Pro Bowl rosters and been a first-team All-Pro (2019) as the NFL’s passing touchdown leader.

Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals

Like Herbert, Burrow has quickly ascended to the upper echelon of QB talent at a wild pace. Despite suffering an ACL injury in the middle of his impressive rookie season, Burrow was able to put together an outstanding Year 2 in Cincinnati, leading the Bengals to their first playoff win since 1991 and their first Super Bowl trip since 1989.

Burrow won’t turn 26 until December, but he’s already thrown for 7,299 yards and 47 touchdowns in just 26 games. He also is the reigning NFL Comeback Player of the Year.

Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

The first overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft is currently in a contract dispute with the Arizona Cardinals following a trio of up-and-down campaigns. Kliff Kingsbury’s hand-picked pass has lit up the stat sheet with his dynamic style of play, but the Cardinals have yet to reap the rewards of his numbers game.

At only 24, Murray has already made two Pro Bowls, been named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, and thrown for 11,480 yards and 70 touchdowns. He’s also picked up 1,786 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns during his first three years at the helm.

Honorable mentions
Jalen Hurts (Philadelphia Eagles)
Mac Jones (New England Patriots)

The playmakers

Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings

So much for just being a slot receiver. Jefferson has smashed phony narratives since entering the league in 2020. He’s put up an eye-opening 3,016 yards and 17 touchdowns through only two seasons. With Kirk Cousins tossing him the rock, Jefferson has surged into back-to-back Pro Bowl campaigns to start his career.

At just 22, Jefferson is off to a Hall of Fame start. He has somehow found a way to make the Stefon Diggs trade look fantastic for both the Vikings and the Buffalo Bills.

Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals

Jefferson’s debut has only been trumped by Chase, who produced 81 catches for 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns during his rookie campaign. Last year’s fifth overall pick made the Bengals look smart for taking him over Penei Sewell, despite the franchise’s massive need on the offensive line.

Chase helped Burrow and the Bengals steer the ship to the Super Bowl. While Chase, Burrow, and the gang came up short, their future is clearly bright on offense.

A.J. Brown, Philadelphia Eagles

Brown won’t turn 25 until late June, but he has already put up two 1,000-yard seasons in an offense geared toward running the ball with Ryan Tannehill at QB. Now with the Philadelphia Eagles following a draft-day trade, Brown will be paired with his best friend, QB Jalen Hurts, and another young, dynamic weapon in DeVonta Smith.

Through three campaigns with the Tennessee Titans, Brown produced 185 catches for 2,995 yards and 24 touchdowns. He did that as a true X receiver who was able to have consistent success against press coverage. In Philadelphia, he will be the focal point of the Eagles’ passing attack.

Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts

Taylor nearly willed the Colts to the playoffs by leading the league in rushing yards last season. While some view running backs as replaceable weapons, Taylor was dynamic and dominant in 2021. He produced 1,811 yards and 18 rushing yards touchdowns while averaging 5.5 yards per carry. No matter who is blocking up front or calling the plays, that type of production is considered special.

Taylor turned 23 in January, and he has already produced 2,980 rushing yards and 29 rushing touchdowns. He has also collected 659 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns. A first-team All-Pro last season, Taylor’s future is bright.

Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons

Pitts is the highest-picked tight end in the history of the NFL draft. The Florida alum showed why he was so heavily coveted as a draft prospect last season, earning a Pro Bowl nod in the process. In a Falcons offense devoid of talent, Pitts collected 68 passes for 1,026 yards and a touchdown.

With a season under his belt, Pitts should greatly increase his targets and touchdowns in Year 2.

CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys

Lamb is about to become the top target in the dynamic Cowboys offense. Following the departure of Amari Cooper, Lamb is the No. 1 wideout for Dallas, just two years after he was selected in the first round. Despite his previous spot as the No. 2 receiver, he has already put up 2,037 receiving yards and 13 total touchdowns during his career.

With Michael Gallup potentially sidelined for the start of the season, look for the targets to come in droves for Lamb, who will now become Dak Prescott’s best pal.

DK Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks

The 2019 second-round pick has become a special player over the past three seasons. Metcalf is an athletic unicorn with an unreal upside, as he is 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds and can run in the 4.3 40-yard dash range. That size-speed combo has been lethal during the early goings of his career.

Through three seasons, Metcalf has caught 216 passes for 3,170 yards and 29 touchdowns. He will need to keep that momentum going, even without Russell Wilson at QB.

T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions

Playing in Detroit can be a tough draw from a publicity standpoint. After all, the Lions are the only team without a prime-time matchup this year. But Hockenson, 24, has been able to stand out as a Pro Bowl playmaker anyway.

Hockenson has made a Pro Bowl (2020) and produced 160 catches for 1,673 yards and 12 touchdowns through three seasons. He was the Lions’ only viable playmaker last season.

Honorable mentions
Michael Pittman Jr. (Indianapolis Colts)
DeVonta Smith (Philadelphia Eagles)
Jaylen Waddle (Miami Dolphins)
Marquise Brown (Arizona Cardinals)
Tee Higgins (Cincinnati Bengals)
Najee Harris (Pittsburgh Steelers)

Mike Kaye is the Lead NFL Reporter for Pro Football Network. Follow him on Twitter: @mike_e_kaye.


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