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 blockers

Rashawn Slater, Los Angeles Chargers

While offensive linemen never win the big awards, Slater should have received plenty of NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year consideration last season. Starting at left tackle isn’t easy in the AFC West, and Slater more than held his own as a mid-first-round pick. Slater blocking for Herbert is a long-term winning combination, and GM Tom Telesco deserves a ton of credit as their matchmaker.

Look for Slater, a 2021 Pro Bowler, to continue to be considered among the NFL’s elite on the blindside.

Tristan Wirfs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

While Slater has been a young stud on the left side of the line, Wirfs has been a juggernaut on the right side for the Bucs. He has started all 33 games during his career and was named a first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowler last season.

With those solo accolades and a Super Bowl ring to his collection, Wirfs could coast for the rest of his career and still have an impressive résumé.

Creed Humphrey, Kansas City Chiefs

Humphrey had an impressive rookie season in Kansas City. While the second-round pick failed to make the Pro Bowl, he did start all 17 games for the AFC runners-up. Humphrey is a smart and athletic lineman who can overpower defenders in the middle of the field. He can also provide a strong presence up the middle for QB Patrick Mahomes.

At this rate, All-Pro and Pro Bowl nods appear to be in Humphrey’s future.

Jordan Mailata, Philadelphia Eagles

Like Humphrey, Mailata has yet to earn a Pro Bowl invitation. However, the massive Australian has turned into one of the most fascinating success stories in recent memory. Mailata had never played a meaningful snap of football in life before 2020. But, due to injuries, he was forced to step up during Doug Pederson’s final season in Philly, and he eventually earned the starting left tackle job last year.

Mailata signed a four-year, $64 million deal with the Eagles last season. He will now be the team’s starting blindside blocker for the foreseeable future. He just turned 24 in March and doesn’t have the typical wear-and-tear of a 2018 pick.

Honorable mentions
Jonah Jackson (Detroit Lions)
Andrew Thomas (New York Giants)
Jedrick Wills Jr. (Cleveland Browns)

The front-seven superstars

Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys

The reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year is coming off a special campaign. A versatile chess piece, Parsons was used at linebacker and defensive end last season. He produced 84 tackles, 13 sacks, three forced fumbles, and three pass breakups as a result of being moved around regularly.

In Parsons, the Cowboys have the ultimate defensive weapon, and he just turned 23 last week.

Chase Young, Washington Commanders

Young won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award in 2020. Like Parsons, Young is a dynamic front-seven player who is the focal point of his defense. Through two seasons, Young has collected 63 tackles, nine sacks, and six forced fumbles. He also has produced six pass breakups.

Coming off a season-ending ACL tear, Young will need to get back to tip-top shape for the Commanders to continue to play fast on defense.

Maxx Crosby, Las Vegas Raiders

Like Mailata, Crosby is a success story. The 24-year-old has battled alcoholism, and he has turned the corner in a big way, earning a four-year, $98.98 million deal in the process. Crosby earned that money through his production, as he has collected 25 sacks, 12 pass breakups, and four forced fumbles in three seasons.

The Raiders decided to pair Crosby with Chandler Jones in Las Vegas, and that duo should be able to eat pretty regularly in the AFC West.

Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers

Like his brother Joey, Nick Bosa is an absolute force on the edge. The 24-year-old has gained honors left and right, despite losing most of his second season to an ACL injury. He bounced back in a big way last season, compiling 15 ½ sacks and 21 tackles for loss in his comeback campaign.

Through three seasons, Bosa has produced 24 ½ sacks, 58 QB hits, and 37 tackles for loss. He has also been invited to two Pro Bowls and won the 2019 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award.

Brian Burns, Carolina Panthers

Burns has become an under-the-radar star in Carolina. The former first-round pick just turned 24 in March, and he already has 25 ½ sacks on his NFL résumé. He made his first Pro Bowl last season, as he posted nine sacks, 18 QB hits, and 13 TFLs.

Burns is well-positioned to cash in on his production in the near future.

Honorable mentions
Logan Wilson (Cincinnati Bengals)
Quinnen Williams (New York Jets)
Devin White (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Patrick Queen (Baltimore Ravens)
Josh Sweat (Philadelphia Eagles)
Dexter Lawrence (New York Giants)

Game-changing DBs

Trevon Diggs, Dallas Cowboys

While he gave up a ton of yardage last season, there’s no denying that Diggs’ ball-hawking skills changed games for the Cowboys’ defense. Diggs was a first-team All-Pro and a Pro Bowl starter last season after producing a league-high 11 interceptions. He also collected two defensive touchdowns for Dallas.

Diggs has 14 interceptions and 35 PBUs through two seasons. The former second-round pick should be able to add to that impressive total in droves in 2022.

Antoine Winfield Jr., Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs have added young talent on both sides of the ball over the past few years. While Tom Brady and the veteran additions get a ton of the shine, young stars like Wirfs and Winfield deserve to bask in some glory as well.

Winfield has been a do-it-all defensive back for the Bucs, excelling against the pass and the run through two seasons. He has produced 182 tackles, 12 pass breakups, three interceptions, and four forced fumbles during the early goings of his career. He has also won a Super Bowl ring and earned a Pro Bowl nod.

A.J. Terrell, Atlanta Falcons

Like his teammate, Pitts, Terrell has been asked to be the face of his side of the ball. Terrell isn’t racking up awards or highlight plays, but he is one of the best cover corners in the NFL. Through two seasons, Terrell has established himself as a true No. 1 cornerback in Atlanta.

Terrell has played in 30 games and collected 155 tackles, 23 pass breakups, four interceptions, and four forced fumbles. Terrell is a physical corner who excels beyond coverage.

Denzel Ward, Cleveland Browns

The former fourth overall pick has been a gem since arriving in Cleveland in 2018. A two-time Pro Bowl selection, Ward has produced 183 tackles, 50 pass breakups, 10 interceptions, two forced fumbles, and two defensive touchdowns. Only 25, Ward’s career is as bright as ever.

In April, the Browns signed Ward to a massive five-year, $100.5 million contract extension. With Cleveland pushing for a Super Bowl, Ward has become an irreplaceable member of the Browns’ secondary.

Honorable mentions
Patrick Surtain II (Denver Broncos)
Darnell Savage (Green Bay Packers)
Xavier McKinney (New York Giants)
Julian Blackmon (Indianapolis Colts)

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


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