Top 10 WRs Under 25 Years Old: Buying or Selling Their Long-Term Success
As the NFL continues to prove it's a quarterback-driven league, the league is fortunate to have a plethora of young talent at the wide receiver position. What do A.J. Green, Julio Jones and Hakeem Nicks have in common? They are all under the age of 25.
There is no question that many of the league's elite receivers have not reached their full potential and continue to make a significant impact on each Sunday.
Can some of the younger receivers continue to elevate the game during the beginning of their NFL careers?
Find out whether I am buying or selling the long-term success of the best receivers under 25 years old.
10. Kenny Britt, Tennessee Titans
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At the age of 23, Kenny Britt still has the potential to be an elite receiver despite his injuries and off-the-field distractions.
He showed promise last year during the preseason and the first two games of the regular season before missing the remainder of the year with a torn ACL. The combination of his size and strength fits the perfect mold for a receiver, and ultimately he was the difference-maker in the Tennessee Titans missing the postseason.
However, will Britt ever reach his full potential? It's difficult to believe that the former first-round pick will actually hit his ceiling. Not only does Britt need to fully regain his form after the ACL injury, but his future is in serious doubt if his troubles with the law continue in the near future.
9. Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders
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Denarius Moore has the most potential among the young Raiders receiving corps due to his consistency when at full strength.
The Raiders have built their offense around the speed of their receivers. Moore is evidently the most mature, as he is very fundamentally sound and limits the mental mistakes usually made by Darrius-Heyward Bey and Jacoby Ford.
For Moore, the biggest concern is whether Carson Palmer is holding him back from becoming one of the more dominant receivers in the game. With a lack of a vertical passing game and an emphasis of short passes, the Raiders aren't taking advantage of his capabilities.
Ultimately, Moore has a bright future as he continues to progress as the clear No. 1 receiver in Oakland.
8. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
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Dez Bryant has been anything but the No. 1 receiver that Jerry Jones thought he would become when he drafted the former Oklahoma State standout in the first round.
Similar to Kenny Britt, Bryant continues to be affected by a variety of injuries along with legal troubles that have forced the Cowboys to keep a much closer eye on him.
Bryant showed he has the motivation to become an elite receiver after making strides in the preseason. However, at some point his success needs to translate to quality performances on a consistent basis.
Is it possible for Bryant to be an above-average receiver in the NFL? Absolutely. However, it doesn't appear that he is on track to reach his full potential as an elite receiver.
7. Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens
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Through two games, Torrey Smith has shown signs of elevating his game and becoming a complete wide receiver in the NFL.
Smith has been in the shadow of A.J. Green and Julio Jones, two of the game's elite receivers who were drafted ahead of him in 2011.
In his rookie season, Smith displayed the ability to be an immediate threat down the field and would benefit from having a big-arm quarterback like Joe Flacco. He took time in the off-season to improve his route-running and has seen his effort pay off in the first two games.
Will Smith ever enter the "elite" discussion? You have to wonder if he will ever be considered one of the game's top receivers due to the current offense in Baltimore.
However, I am buying into Smith continuing to improve over the course of his young career.
6. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
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Antonio Brown is the most complete receiver on the Pittsburgh Steelers and evidently the most valuable asset in this new-look offense.
The Steelers front office made that known in the offseason when they gave Brown an extension over disgruntled receiver Mike Wallace.
Brown is built perfectly for an offense led by Todd Haley. He reminds me a little bit of a younger, quicker version of Anquan Boldin. Brown is a major threat in short-yardage situations, especially on screen plays. Meanwhile, unlike Boldin, Brown can emerge as a legitimate vertical threat when called upon.
5. Victor Cruz, New York Giants
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It's tough not to root for a guy like Victor Cruz, who has gone from an undrafted rookie to a hero for the New York Giants in 2011.
After a rough opening night that included three drops, Cruz showed up to play on Sunday in the Giants comeback win over Tampa Bay.
There are the concerns about his ability to drop passes often, and whether he can match the brilliant 2011 campaign.
Fortunately, he fits in the right pass-heavy offense and has the talent around him to help him further develop with the Giants.
4. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos
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Demaryius Thomas has quietly become one of the league's more feared receivers with Peyton Manning throwing him passes on a consistent basis.
Thomas reminds me of former Manning teammate Reggie Wayne, a tall receiver who possesses enough speed to be a consistent offensive threat on all areas in the field.
Eric Decker received the majority of the preseason hype, but Thomas will only continue improving the longer Manning is under center in Denver.
3. Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants
It's amazing to think that Hakeem Nicks has already proven to be one of the top receivers in the NFL when healthy, and yet he is only 24 years old.
The biggest question concerning Nicks is his health, which has been a problem dating to his rookie season.
He couldn't be in a better situation with Eli Manning throwing him plenty of passes in an offense that showcases a lot of young talent. He will be around for quite awhile.
2. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
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The Atlanta Falcons faced criticism for trading a lot of valuable draft picks to move up and select Julio Jones last year. There's no question that Jones makes the Falcons a championship contender.
With a full off-season of training and learning the playbook, the former Alabama product is benefiting from the up-tempo offense that is installed with the Falcons.
He continues to develop while learning from Roddy White and benefiting from the lack of double coverage due to White's presence. It's only a matter of time until Jones is considered the best receiver in the league.
1. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
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The question concerning A.J. Green is not whether he is an elite receiver, but is he the best receiver in the game after one full season in the NFL.
Green was responsible for the emergence of quarterback Andy Dalton and a surprising playoff appearance for the Cincinnati Bengals.
His combination of size and athleticism puts him in the same category as Calvin Johnson.
In the end, Green will only continue to impress and prove he is the most dynamic receiver under the age of 25.
Matt Miselis is a veteran NFL FC for B/R who has been featured on ESPN.com, CBS Sports and the LA Times. Follow him on twitter: @MattMiselisNFL