NFL Draft: Who Are the Youngest Players To Ever Be Drafted?

Who is the youngest player ever to be selected in the NFL Draft? Let's travel back to 2007 to find our answer.

The average career of an NFL player is much shorter than other major sports. That makes youth incredibly valuable. The younger an NFL Draft prospect is, the longer his career has the potential to be. Let’s take a look at the youngest players ever selected in the NFL Draft.

Who Was the Youngest Player To Be Drafted in the NFL?

Amobi Okoye, DT, Houston Texans | 19 Years, 10 Months

Typically, the youngest players drafted are those who leave college early. That wasn’t the case for Louisville’s Amobi Okoye.

Having emigrated from Nigeria at 12 years old, there was no linear schooling path for Okoye. He immediately tested into the ninth grade and began his American schooling from there. That allowed him to attend college at just 15 years old.

Okoye completed a full four years at Louisville, earning first-team All-Big East honors in his senior season. When he declared for the 2007 NFL Draft, he was still a teenager.

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The Houston Texans made Okoye the youngest player selected in the history of the NFL Draft, taking him 10th overall. He remains one of only two teenagers ever chosen in the draft.

Okoye’s NFL career started hot, as he was named Defensive Rookie of the Month in Sept. 2007. He finished his rookie campaign with 5.5 sacks, but that would prove to be his high-water mark.

Okoye played four seasons with the Texans before signing with the Chicago Bears in 2011. He appeared in 25 games for the Bears over two seasons before missing the 2013 campaign while dealing with recurring seizures. Okoye signed with the Dallas Cowboys in 2015 but did not appear in a game.

Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Buffalo Bills | 19 Years, 11 Months

The second teenager ever taken in the NFL Draft was Tremaine Edmunds. At No. 16 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills selected Edmunds mere days before his 20th birthday.

A two-year starter at Virginia Tech, Edmunds racked up 33 tackles for loss in his collegiate career and was named first-team All-ACC in 2017. His brother and college teammate, Terrell Edmunds, was also selected in the first round (28th) of the 2017 NFL Draft.

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Edmunds became an immediate starter in Buffalo, eventually teaming with fellow 2017 draftee Matt Milano to give the Bills one of the best linebacker duos in the NFL. Edmunds made the Pro Bowl in 2019 and 2020, but his most complete season was in 2022 when he displayed outstanding coverage ability in the passing game.

That performance came in Edmunds’ contract year, setting him up for a payday on the open market. The Bears subsequently gave him a four-year, $72 million contract, making him the fourth-highest-paid linebacker in the league.

Elmer Angsman, HB, Chicago Cardinals | 20 Years, 1 Month

Okoye and Edmunds are familiar names, but Elmer Angsman probably isn’t. He was barely 20 years old when the Chicago Cardinals selected him with the 16th pick in the 1946 NFL Draft.

After averaging 7.1 yards per carry in his final season at Notre Dame, Angsman joined a Cardinals team set up for success. In the 1947 NFL Championship Game, Angsman posted two 70-yard touchdown runs against the Philadelphia Eagles, the second of which effectively ended the game.

Angsman eclipsed 600 rushing yards in each of the next two seasons and was named a second-team All-Pro in 1949. His production fell off rapidly beginning in 1950, and he retired after the 1952 campaign. Angsman later became a color commentator for college and pro football.

Danielle Hunter, DE, Minnesota Vikings | 20 Years, 6 Months

After three years at LSU, Danielle Hunter declared for the 2015 NFL Draft. Hunter was a solid prospect but far from elite. The Minnesota Vikings grabbed him in the third round at pick No. 88.

Hunter has far exceeded expectations throughout his career, earning four Pro Bowl selections and finishing fifth in Defensive Player of the Year voting in 2019.

After spending the entirety of his 20s with the Vikings, Hunter signed a two-year deal with the Houston Texans. He now joins C.J. Stroud and the upstart Houston offense as they pursue the championship that has evaded Hunter throughout his eight professional seasons.

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