Cleveland Browns and 3 NFL Teams Loaded with Young Talent
The Cleveland Browns have only won a single game so far in 2012, but given the young talent on this roster, success isn't far away.
The Browns aren't the only young team with burgeoning talent ready to bust out in the next few years, either.
These teams may be works in progress right now, but in the years to come, they'll be yearly contenders in their division and participants in the NFL playoffs.
Note: For the sake of this argument, I'll be focusing on players age 25 or under who have already been making contributions to their respective teams.
The Minnesota Vikings started to flourish sooner than most experts (myself included) thought was possible, due to the fast development of Christian Ponder.
On both sides of the ball, this team has assembled a strong contingency of talented youth. If Rick Spielman finds Ponder a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver next year, it's not out of the question for this team to win the NFC North.
- Everson Griffen, defensive end (age 24)
- Chris Cook, cornerback (age 25)
- Josh Robinson, cornerback (age 21)
- Harrison Smith, safety (age 23)
- Stephen Burton, wide receiver (age 22)
- Christian Ponder, quarterback (age 24)
- Brandon Fusco, right guard (age 24)
- Kyle Rudolph, tight end (age 22)
- Jarius Wright, wide receiver (age 22)
- Matt Kalil, left tackle (age 23)
- Percy Harvin, wide receiver (age 24)
The Tennessee Titans have a steep climb ahead of them in the AFC South with the Houston Texans firmly entrenched as the top dog, but this team's roster is full of young talent that will shift the balance of power in short time.
While there are still a few obvious holes left to fill—particularly in the secondary and on both lines—the Titans have key players in place at the skill positions that are ready to break out in another year or two.
- Alterraun Verner, cornerback (age 23)
- Derrick Morgan, defensive end (age 23)
- Robert Johnson, strong safety (age 25)
- Jurrell Casey, defensive tackle (age 22)
- Colin McCarthy, middle linebacker (age 24)
- Akeem Ayers, outside linebacker (age 23)
- Zack Brown, outside linebacker (age 22)
- Jason McCourty, cornerback (age 25)
- Kenny Britt, wide receiver (age 24)
- Jared Cook, tight end (age 25)
- Damian Williams, wide receiver (age 24)
- Jake Locker, quarterback (age 24)
- Kendall Wright, wide receiver (age 22)
Pete Carroll and John Schneider have assembled a lean, mean football team in Seattle that is full of talented young players.
Particularly strong is their group of young defensive backs, though there are excellent young players at most positions.
The best part about what the Seahawks are doing is that they have drafted young men who are not only phenomenal football players, but also leaders both on and off the field.
- Kam Chancellor, strong safety (age 24)
- Earl Thomas, free safety (age 23)
- Richard Sherman, cornerback (age 24)
- Bruce Irvin, defensive end/outside linebacker (age 22)
- Bobby Wagner, outside linebacker (age 22)
- Russell Okung, left tackle, (age 25)
- Golden Tate, wide receiver (age 24)
- James Carpenter, left guard (age 23)
- Doug Baldwin, wide receiver (age 24)
- Russell Wilson, quarterback (age 23)
- Robert Turbin, running back (age 22)
Mike Holmgren has received an insane amount of criticism the past couple of seasons. When you take a closer look at the incredible array of young talent he's amassed, it's hard to fathom why.
On both sides of the ball, the Cleveland Browns have what it takes to make the giant leap from basement dweller to playoff contender.
I can't help but think that this young team would benefit from a different head coach, as I've yet to be impressed with Pat Shurmur's approach. Perhaps a guy like Jay or Jon Gruden could turn this team around.
- T.J. Ward, strong safety (age 25)
- Joe Haden, cornerback (age 23)
- Buster Skrine, cornerback (age 23)
- Jabaal Sheard, defensive end (age 23)
- Phil Taylor, defensive tackle (age 24)
- Billy Winn, defensive tackle (age 23)
- John Hughes, defensive tackle (age 24)
- L.J. Fort, outside linebacker (age 22)
- Mohamed Massaquoi, wide receiver (age 25)
- Shawn Lauvao, right guard (age 24)
- Montario Hardesty, running back (age 25)
- Greg Little, wide receiver (age 23)
- Jason Pinkston, left guard (age 25)
- Jordan Cameron, tight end (age 24)
- Mitchell Scwhartz, right tackle (age 23)
- Trent Richardson, running back (age 21)
- Travis Benjamin, wide receiver (age 22)
- Josh Gordon, wide receiver (age 21)