NFL's Top 25 Under 25: Does Mark Sanchez Make the Top 5?

Will DanielsonAnalyst IOctober 20, 2010

NFL's Top 25 Under 25: Does Mark Sanchez Make the Top 5?

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    There are many fantastic players in the NFL. From Peyton Manning, to Andre Johnson and Tom Brady. But I am here to discuss the top players in the NFL under the age of 25.

    For your information, I AM counting players that are at the age of 25. Tell me if I missed anyone, because I was mostly looking for developing players and may have forgotten some stars under 25. For running backs, I am counting a receiving touchdown in the TD list.

Honerable Mention: Chad Henne QB, Dolphins

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    College: Michigan

    Age: 25

    Drafted: 2008: Round 2, 57th overall

    TD: 7

    INT: 5

    Yards: 1195

    Comp %: 62.9

    QB rating: 85.3


    Henne entered in the middle of last season and did pretty well for the Dolphins.

    He was doing great this year but had one bad game verse the Patriots where he threw three picks, still having 300 yards, and now apparently is in the danger of losing his job to another Chad, Chad Pennington. I don't think that that is a good move. Chad seems to be the answer for this team.

Honorable Mention: Keith Rivers LB, Bengals

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    College: USC

    Age: 24

    Drafted: 2008: Round 1, 9th overall

    Tackles: 28

    Sacks: 1

    FF: 0

    INT: 0


    Keith Rivers is another player from the new linebacker U, USC. He is an athletic freak, but hasn't lived up to his potential. I think he will be a great player in the league. 

Honerable Mention: Josh Freeman QB, Buccaneers

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    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    College: Kansas State

    Age: 22

    Drafted: 2009: Round 1, 17th overall

    TD: 6

    INT: 3

    Yards: 1043

    Comp %: 59.1

    QB Rating: 83.4


    I will be honest, I did not think this young man had what it took to make it in the NFL. I didn't consider him that good, and he didn't prove me wrong his rookie year.

    But he has looked like a whole new QB this season, looking like a young Ben Roethlisberger out there. He still needs to complete more percent of his passes though.

Honorable Mention: Michael Oher OT, Ravens

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    Larry French/Getty Images

    College: Ole Miss

    Age: 24

    Drafted: 2009: Round 1, 23 overall


    Everyone knows his story from the fantastic film The Blind Side, but he is also a fantastic player. He is a great athlete but is a little inconsistent. He tends to get to high up, but he can make up for it with his athleticism.

#25: Jerod Mayo LB, Patriots

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    College: Tennessee

    Age: 24

    Drafted: 2008: Round 1, 10th overall

    Tackles: 61

    Sacks: 1

    FF: 0

    INT: 0


    This young guy has been tearing it up this season, being 2nd in the league in tackles. Many teams have had there Bye weeks though. He is the leader of this young Patriot defense even though he is only 24 years old. He won the AP Defensive rookie of the year two seasons ago. He had 18 tackles last week against the Ravens and 16 the week before that.

#24: Michael Crabtree WR, 49ers

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    College: Texas Tech

    Age: 23

    Drafted: 2009: Round 1, 10th overall

    Rec: 24

    Yards: 301

    Avg: 12.5

    TD: 2


    The 49ers have been disappointing this season, and Crabtree is no exception. Crabtree had 625 yards last season without playing catch with the QB once and only playing 11 games.

    With Alex Smith as the main QB, many expected Crabtree to easily get 1,000 yards this season. He is only on pace to get around 800 yards. He is still very, very talented and had a good game last week, so maybe he can build off of that.

#23: Dez Bryant WR, Cowboys

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    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    College: Oklahoma State

    Age: 21

    Drafted: 2010: 1st round, 24th overall

    Rec: 18

    Yards: 211

    Avg: 11.7

    TD: 1


    Dez was the most talked about rookie coming into this season, from not carrying pads, to dropping 54,000 dollars on dinner and to getting injured. He has not lived up to his hype yet, but that is mostly because he had to miss the entire preseason from injury and because Roy Williams is actually doing good.

    He is still explosive, already taking a punt back for a touchdown this season, but he needs to play better because right now, he is the fourth option.

#22: Mike Wallace WR, Steelers

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    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    College: Mississippi

    Age: 21 

    Drafted: 2009: Round 3, 84th overall

    Rec: 12

    Yards: 301

    Avg: 23.4

    TD: 3


    Three receivers in a row! Mike Wallace has been the best receiver out of the three, even though he has the least amount of catches. He has scored scoring three touchdowns and hauling in 301 yards. He has been one of the biggest deep threats of the season, only having 12 catches but still have 300+ yards.

#21: Mike Jenkins CB, Cowboys

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    College: USF

    Age: 24

    Drafted: 2008: Round 1, 25th overall

    Tackles: 14

    Sacks: 0

    FF: 0

    INT: 1


    Terence Newman might get the publicity for the Cowboys, but Jenkins is the better cornerback. He is a great young corner that keeps on getting better. He made his first pro-bowl last season and looks to build on that.

#20: Ndamukong Suh DT, Lions

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    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    College: Nebraska

    Age: 23

    Drafted: 2010: Round 1, 2nd overall

    Tackles: 21

    Sacks: 4.5

    FF: 0

    INT: 1

    I don't understand it. It was a mutual agreement that this guy was the best Defensive prospect since Reggie White, and that he was the best player, and yet people didn't think he should go first?

    This guy has proven everyone right, dominating this season and already having 4.5 sacks this season. This guy is going to be an All-Pro soon, maybe even this year.

#19: Lesean McCoy RB, Eagles

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    College: Pittsburgh

    Age: 22

    Drafted: 2009: Round 2, 53rd overall

    Rushes: 89

    Yards: 429

    Avg: 4.8

    TD: 5

    Rec Yards: 239


    Since he has taken over for Brian Westbrook, McCoy has become an absolute stud. This year, he has averaged over 4.5 yards a carry. What is even better is he has played some good teams and his O-line is not that good. He has been a great receiving threat as well. He has a bright, bright future ahead of him.

#18: Curtis Lofton LB, Falcons

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    College: Oklahoma

    Age: 24

    Drafted: 2008: Round 2, 37th overall

    Tackles: 51

    Sacks: 2

    FF: 0

    INT: 1


    Curtis Lofton dominated this week, racking up 15 tackles and playing great. He is a dominant middle-linebacker and is a great talent. 

#17: Matt Ryan QB, Falcons

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    College: Boston College

    Age: 25

    Drafted: 2008: Round 1, 3rd overall

    TD: 9

    INT: 4

    Yards: 1415

    Comp %: 60.3

    QB rating: 85.3


    I hate to say this, but it seems like this guy has gotten worse every season since getting into the NFL. He has done better this season, but most expected more from him.

    He has a hall of fame tight end in Tony Gonzalez and a great wide receiver in Roddy White. He has a fantastic running back in Michael Turner as well. I think he is overrated because with all these weapons and a great coach, he is still is not that great.

#16: Jermichael Finley TE, Packers

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    College: Texas

    Age: 23

    Drafted: 2008: Round 3, 91st overall

    Rec: 21

    Yards: 301

    Avg: 14.3

    TD: 1

    It sucks that this guy got injured this early in the season. The Packers have been a very unlucky team this season, losing a great running back and a Top 5 tight end in the league.

    Finley really broke out near the end of last season and didn't miss a step heading into this season. He was on pace to easily break 1,000 yards receiving on the season, but got injured and is out for the rest of the season. A real shame.

#15: Sidney Rice WR, Vikings

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    College: South Carolina

    Age: 24

    Drafted: 2007: Round 2, 44th overall

    (Last season statistics)

    Rec: 83

    Yards: 1312


    TDs: 8


    From one injured star to the next. Rice was an afterthought heading into the 2009 season, but really stepped it up and became the No. 1 receiver on the Vikings. He got injured in the off season and has not played yet. He is apparently supposed to come back at around the halfway point of the season, but you never know. 

#14: Rashard Mendenhall RB, Steelers

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    College: Illinois

    Age: 23

    Drafted: 2008: Round 1, 23rd overall

    Rushes: 116

    Yards: 495

    Avg: 4.3

    TD: 5

    Rec Yards: 42


    Mendenhall has been an absolute monster for the Steelers this season, averaging 5.4 yards a carry and scoring five touchdowns. He is on pace to break 1,500 yards rushing! The Steelers might not try and run the ball as much with Big Ben Roethlisberger coming back, but he is still a great player. 

#13: Brian Orakpo DE, Redskins

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    College: Texas

    Age: 24

    Drafted: 2009: Round 1, 13th pick

    Tackles: 19

    Sacks: 5

    FF: 1

    INT: 0


    Brian Orakpo has gone somewhat under the radar this season, but he has been a force so far this season. He is on pace to get near 15 sacks. He has helped the Redskins become pretty good this season. 

#12: Hakeem Nicks WR, Giants

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    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    College: North Carolina

    Age: 22

    Drafted: 2009 Round 1, 29th pick

    Rec: 36

    Yards: 417

    AVG: 11.6

    TD: 6


    Hakeem Nicks has straight up dominated this season, tying for second in the league for touchdowns. No one thought he would be this great this season. He didn't play great against the Texans this week, but he is still the No. 1 option on the team. I think that he has become a top 15 receiver in this league.

#11: Jonathan Stewart RB, Carolina Pathers

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    Geoff Burke/Getty Images

    College: Oregon

    Age: 23

    Drafted: 2008: Round 1, 13th overall

    Rushes: 36

    Yards: 119

    Avg: 3.3

    TD: 2

    Rec Yards: 77


    Some may disagree here. But most of you are wrong. See, most of the media does 180's every week and then people copy them and are too reactionary.

    The quarterbacks have straight up sucked this season in Carolina, but mostly because Steve Smith is injured and Clausen was throwing to three rookies and a guy they got off waivers. Stewart may be a backup by title, but he is a great player and would be a No. 1 running back on many, many teams out there.

#10: Desean Jackson WR, Eagles

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Colllege: California

    Age: 23

    Drafted: 2008: Round 2, 49th overall

    Rec: 19

    Yards: 395

    Avg: 20.8

    TD: 3


    Truly the best deep threat in the NFL, Desean Jackson is a great player. Standing only 5'10" and 175 pounds soaking wet, he has played pretty good thus far this season. He got brutally injured last week against the Falcons, and will probably miss next week.

#9: Jake Long T, Dolphins

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    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    College: Michigan

    Age: 25

    Drafted: 2008: Round 1, 1st overall


    Long has been the anchor of the Dolphins and protects the blind side of Henne. Ever since he stepped in Day 1, he has dominated the NFL. He has made the pro-bowl every year since entering the league and is fun to watch.

#8: Joe Flacco QB, Ravens

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    Larry French/Getty Images

    College: Delaware

    Age: 25

    Drafted: 2008: Round 1, 18th overall

    TD: 7

    INT: 6

    Yards: 1401

    Comp %: 60.5

    QB Rating: 80.2


    To be blunt, Joe Flacco has under preformed this season. For the first time in forever, Baltimore has serious receiving threats. They might have the best receiving core in the league! There is no doubt that Flacco is better than his stats have shown, but he needs to improve to be considered an elite NFL QB.

#7: Clay Matthews LB, Packers

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    College: USC

    Age: 24

    Drafted: 2009: Round 1, 26th overall

    Tackles: 21

    Sacks: 8.5

    FF: 1

    INT: 0


    This picture above is one of the reasons I don't have this kid higher. I think he is a cheat and a doper. Despite that, I can't deny that this guy is a great talent and player. He leads the league in sacks and is on pace to break the sack record in a single season. Of course he wont get it, but it shows how great he is doing. 

#6: Mark Sanchez QB, Jets

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    College: USC

    Age: 23

    Drafted: 2009: Round 1, 5th overall

    TD: 9

    INT: 2

    Yards: 1100

    Comp %: 55.4

    QB Rating: 86.4


    Nope. He did not crack the top five, but that doesn't mean he is a great player. I think that he will if he has not already become an elite QB. He hadn't thrown an interception all season until last week in Week 6, which bodes well to his improvement, considering he threw 20 Interceptions last season.

    Like Freeman, he is not completing many of his passes, but he is still a young player and will get better. 

#5: Ray Rice RB, Ravens

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    Larry French/Getty Images

    College: Rutgers

    Age: 23

    Drafted: 2008: Round 2, 55th overall

    Rush: 115

    Yards: 451

    Avg: 3.9

    TD: 2

    Rec Yards: 138

    What a great draft for Baltimore. With one pick, they get there franchise quarterback and with the next, they get there franchise back. This guy is a great player. He is not only an underrated running back, but receiver as well.

    I don't think Baltimore would have made the playoffs last season if it were not for Ray Rice's play. His receiving numbers are down this season, which you can expect with all the new weapons in Baltimore, but he is still a big threat. Once Joe Flacco starts playing better I fully expect Ray Rice to start dominating again like he did last season

#4: Joe Thomas

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    College: Wisconsin

    Age: 25

    Drafted: 2007: Round 1, 3rd overall

    One of the great tackles in the league, many were debating if this was the better pick over Brady Quinn. I am laughing right now, it is pretty funny. This guy is a monster, and is one of the few bright spots on the Cleveland roster. He lead the way for Jerome Harrison last season. 

#3: Ryan Clady T, Broncos

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    NFL Photos/Getty Images

    College: Boise State




    Sorry for the blurry picture. I think the picture looks A) like a mugshot and B) like Lil Wayne. Besides that, this guy is a monster. He is probably the best tackle in the league and he is at the young age of only 24. Look for him to dominate for years and make the hall of fame.

#2: Adrian Peterson RB, Vikings

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    College: Oklahoma

    Age: 25

    Drafted: 200

    AP has been a monster this season. Whenever I watch the Vikings, it seems like on every run that Adrian Peterson gets he has to break three tackles just to get to the line of scrimmage.

    One thing that I have noticed about Adrian Peterson this season is his fumbling. He has not lost one single fumble this season! That was one of the reasons people were turned off by this guy. He is the most complete player I have ever seen play football.

    Emmitt Smith was strong, but wasn't that fast. Sanders was fast as hell but not a down hill runner. But this guy is fast as hell and is one of the strongest running backs in the league.

#1: Chris Johnson RB, Titans

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    College: ECU

    Age: 25

    Drafted: 2008: Round 1, 24th overall

    Rushes: 139

    Yards: 596

    Avg: 4.3

    TD: 7

    Rec Yards: 59


    You don't know how many times I flip-flopped on this Adrian Peterson-Chris Johnson ranking. I had AP first, than Johnson, than AP, and now I am sticking with Johnson. Honestly, I think it is a toss-up, both are great. Even though the Vikings offensive line is bad, the Titans O-line is worse.

    AP also has a better quarterback who you need to respect more, so teams don't load up the box verse the Vikings as much as they do for the Titans. 

Others Who Just Missed the List

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    Felix Jones, RB- Cowboys

    Matt Forte, RB- Bears

    Percey Harvin, WR- Vikings

    Matthew Stafford, QB- Lions

    Jeff Otah, OT- Panthers

    Alex Mach, C- Browns

    Nate Allen, FS- Eagles

    Shonn Greene, RB- Jets