NFL teams are always on the outlook for young talent at a cheap price. However, there is such a thing as too young. The 2017 Cleveland Browns were the youngest team in the NFL since at least 2006. Coaching and developing that talent still matters, as does having veterans in their prime, but perhaps the Browns are just a couple of years away from competing again.
We saw it last season when the Jaguars and Rams, perennial front-runners in our yearly under-25 talent rankings, finally returned to the postseason after head coaches Sean McVay and Doug Marrone were given the reins of those talented rosters. While it is always preferable to be good than to be merely young, we once again have ranked all 32 teams by their talent under the age of 25.
Last year's under-25 rankings had the Cowboys at No. 1 and the Broncos at 32. Not much has changed for those teams this year, but there is some considerable movement from some 2017 playoff teams.
The under-25 talent is a focus on the building blocks teams are putting in place that should help define the next four to eight seasons, if not longer -- if the teams are fortunate. For more on our methodology in ranking all 32 teams, check out the bottom of the article.
Here are our rankings for this season. All ages are as of Sept. 6, 2018. Read through the full file 1 to 32, or jump to your favorite team by clicking on a logo below:
2017 ranking: 27
The Rams climbed higher (26 spots) in the rankings than any team this year thanks to head coach Sean McVay showing us just how bad of a job Jeff Fisher was doing. We've usually had the Rams in the top five for these rankings, but we dropped them to 27th last year after Jared Goff's horrific rookie season and the struggles of Todd Gurley II. Enter McVay, and the Rams had one of the greatest single-season turnarounds in NFL history.
Goff is still far from a top-tier quarterback, but he made huge strides from a 2016 season that had us seriously questioning if he could cut it in the NFL. As a rookie, Goff's passing DVOA without pressure was minus-45.2 percent, the worst season since 2010 by far. With McVay implementing a yards-after-catch-based offense that was heavy on throws to the slot, Goff's DVOA without pressure shot up to 83.4 percent, the second-highest season by a quarterback last year. Gurley was the MVP runner-up in a season that saw him average 12.47 YAC per reception, the second-highest season in ESPN's database since 2006.
Cooper Kupp had an excellent rookie season as the team's slot receiver. The Rams even traded for deep threat Brandin Cooks (still 24) from New England. Pharoh Cooper isn't much of a wide receiver, but he was first-team All-Pro on special teams last season. Tight end Gerald Everett could get more involved in his second season as a former second-round pick.
The Rams occupy the top spot with a major lean on offensive firepower, but the defense should have two under-25 starters waiting to make their mark in linebacker Samson Ebukam and safety John Johnson. The latter finished 15th in adjusted yards per pass (6.0) among safeties in 2017.