Top 5 Brightest Futures For NFL Teams
There is no doubt about this one. Derek Carr is 25 years old, and was playing at an MVP-caliber level, before suffering a broken fibula. Amari Cooper is 22 years old, and is a top wide out in the league. Khalil Mack is 25 years old, and is an absolute force coming off the edge. The interior offensive line is young, and so are the cornerbacks. Just a couple years ago, general manager Reggie McKenzie was on the hot seat, especially after the controversial Rodger Saffold failed physical incident. He has gotten A+++ grades for his last three drafts, and has hit on almost all of his free agent signings. The defense still needs a couple pieces to becoming a solid unit, but no one could have done a better job than McKenzie has done. For that, he deserves to be put near the top of the best GM conversations.
This is more about the youth movement on the defensive side of the ball, as the offense is sort of a hot mess. They do have youth on the offense though, especially in the pass catching department, with DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller and C.J. Fiedorowicz. The defense looks like it will wreak havoc for years to come. A front seven with the likes of J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, Whitney Mercilus, Benardrick McKinney and John Simon should be enough. The fact that they have two of the best young cornerbacks in the league, in A.J. Bouye and Kevin A. Johnson, just makes it that much better. There is obviously still room for improvement with this team, especially on the offensive line, where they have struggled to run block for free agent acquisition Lamar Miller. This team, especially the defense, looks like they can finally reach their first Super Bowl, in franchise history, for years to come.
Another team with a hot mess on offense, but a strong, young defense is the Jacksonville Jaguars. Although the talent has not been producing on offense, there is young talent there. Running back T.J. Yeldon is only 23 years old and was coming off a strong rookie season, before taking a step back in his sophomore year. The same goes for quarterback Blake Bortles, who took a big step from a disappointing rookie year, to throwing 35 touchdowns. He has taken a step back this year, but the talent is still there. The decision making and mechanics are another story. Rookie cornerback Jalen Ramsey has lived up to the hype, as he is emerging into a top cornerback in the league. Safety Johnathan Cyprien has had a terrific year and is only 26 years old. The defensive interior, with free agent acquisition Malik Jackson and Abry Jones, is one of the most disruptive in the league. Look for this young team to take the next step in 2017, that many fans were hoping to come this year.
This one is too easy. Dak Prescott & Ezekiel Elliot are 23 and 21 years old, respectively. The three main pieces of the most dominant offensive line in football, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and Travis Frederick, are all under the age of 27. Cornerback/safety hybrid Byron Jones has been phenomenal in his second year, and so has sophomore defensive end David Irving, who has shown game changing potential coming off the edge. Linebacker Sean Lee has been absolutely incredible this year, and certainly deserved a pro bowl nod. The main focus of this team though, is this offense, especially up front. This team has a lot of potential, and it is incredible that they are already the number 1 seed in the NFC, with Dak and Zeke as rookies.
Yes, I know they just won their first game of the year. They are going in the right direction, however, they are entering the crucial part of the rebuild. The Browns certainly have some young talent, from wideout Terrelle Pryor & halfback Isaiah Crowell on offense to nose tackle Danny Shelton and linebacker Christian Kirksey. The offensive line was becoming a solid unit, before both starting guards Joel Bitonio and John Greco were placed on injured reserve. The pass rush and secondary need some new bodies, both free agents and through the draft. Coach Hue Jackson has the players working hard, and is an emotional leader who can be the guy to bring stability to an unstable franchise. They may only win 1 game in 2016, but the youth movement is real in Northern Ohio.