Posted by Jack Tumen
The NFL is in the midst of a massive youth movement; alas, new stars will arise in the coming seasons. It’s time to take a look at some of those stars as I rank my top five wide receivers under the age of 25. The only other rule is that no one on this list can be a rookie; since they haven’t proven themselves as professionals yet despite apparent “upside,” i.e., Sammy Watkins.
Before we start, some honorable mentions who didn’t make the cut:
- Kendall Wright
- Randall Cobb
- Justin Hunter
- Michael Floyd
Wright was the closest to making the cut. He was 7th in the league last year with 94 receptions and was basically Tennessee’s entire offense but only found the end-zone twice. If Cobb wasn’t injured last season, he’d more than likely be on this list but has yet to prove he can return to his explosive ways on an every-down basis. Floyd is such a solid receiver and he’s so close to taking over that offense from Larry Fitzgerald; but until that happens he’s just barely on the outside looking in. Justin Hunter has all the credentials of a star-in-the-making. His 6’4″ frame and freakish leaping ability make him an exceptional red-zone target. Tennessee’s future stock at the position is sky-high.
And now, your top five receivers under 25.
5. T.Y. Hilton – Now entering his third season at age 24, Hilton has emerged as one of the best young speed demons in the NFL. He’s great on short crossing routes and loves to burn defenses over the top. At this point in time, he’s Indy’s top receiving threat. He’ll be Andrew Luck’s favorite target for the foreseeable future.
4. Cordarrelle Patterson – There are few players in the NFL with more hype surrounding them than the 23-year-old Patterson. As a rookie, he scored multiple touchdowns as a receiver, rusher and returner with nothing but raw athleticism. He also led all wide receivers in rushing, if that means anything to you. Once Patterson starts refining his game, he’ll be one of the top-5 weapons in the NFL. Now that Minnesota has a potential quarterback-of-the-future in Teddy Bridgewater, the sky is truly the limit for the new #84.
3. Keenan Allen – This kid burst on the scene last year to lead the Chargers in receiving and it was clear from the start he has the it factor. His game reminds me of Bills H.O.F. wide receiver, Andre Reed. At age 22, he plays with virtue beyond his years and was the centerpiece of San Diego’s 4th-ranked passing offense in 2013. Allen will be San Diego’s go-to guy for the remainder of the decade and beyond.
2. Alshon Jeffery – The league’s 6th-leading receiver a year ago, Jeffery is the newest Monster of the Midway. Right now, he could be the number one receiver on nearly half the teams in the league. It’s a wonder that players like A.J. Jenkins, Brian Quick and Stephen Hill were all drafted ahead of him. Playing across from Brandon Marshall is a huge plus for his production since defenses can’t double-cover one guy or the other. With a big-armed QB like Jay Cutler throwing him the ball, the 24-year old Jeffery will continue putting up hefty numbers for years to come.
1. Josh Gordon – The 23-year-old Gordon led the NFL in receiving last year – and he had two-fewer games than everyone else to do so. His offseason, however, has been headlined by multiple off-field incidents as he’s currently facing an 8 to 16-game suspension for another failed drug test. Although his immediate future is in doubt, Gordon’s long-term outlook is as good as anyone’s if he can just stay out of trouble.