The NFL is littered with a myriad of incredible young talent. So, I'm going to try my hand at selecting a starting team from this pool of impending superstars!
Unfortunately for me, the anatomy of an NFL roster is... weird. So, let's discuss some rules before we get into it. To account for the dynasty model of this article, all selected players must be below the age of 25. As for the number of players per position, we are going to select two quarterbacks, two running backs, four wide receivers, two tight ends and five offensive linemen. We should be able to cover most of the offensive plays in a typical playbook that way. Now with the formalities out of the way, let's dive into it!
Lamar Jackson: I guarantee he was the first player that came to mind when you read the title. He's already an MVP winner, already a first-team all-pro, already an NFL passing touchdown leader and he's still only 24. On top of all that, Jackson owns the all-time NFL record for rushing yards in a single season with 1206 yards in 16 games. He can literally do it all, and it's special watching him do it.
Justin Herbert: Initially, I had Kyler Murray here; but I have instead elected to go for the gunslinging, yardage eating monster that is Justin Herbert. Allow me to list all the rookie quarterback records he broke last year: Most total touchdowns (36), most passing touchdowns (31), most completions (396), most 300+ yard games (8). He's going to be so great for a long time!
Saquon Barkley: Saquon has had his struggles with injuries, but when healthy he is a top 5 running back in the league no question in my opinion. With a career average of 4.7 yards per attempt and a career total of one fumble on 536 total carries, he's one of the safest and best in the business. Back in 2018, Saquon won the FedEx Ground Player of the Year as well as the NFL Rookie of the year award. He will finish his career with much more in his trophy cabinet than that.
Jonathon Taylor: Taylor's absurd finish to his 2021 rookie season made him hard to ignore for this spot. Not only did he lead all rookie running backs in rushing yards with 1169 yards, but that figure earned him a top 3 placing league-wide. Taylor will be the reason Indy have a constant and consistent rushing attack for seasons to come.
Justin Jefferson: Justin Jefferson will absolutely be my WR1 here. Off the back of the best rookie wide receiver season since Randy Moss, he will look to keep that pace going. That's a tough ask I know... but if anyone can do it, it's Jefferson. Last season he posted 111 receptions, 1400 yards and 7 touchdowns. Mind-boggling numbers for veterans, let alone a rookie. I'm eager to follow Jefferson's career closely.
DK Metcalf: I'm not even sure if we can refer to Metcalf as human at this point. A 4.33s 40m dash at 191cm and 103kgs isn't human. He's continually proving those measurables translate to the NFL as well, funny that. Last season Metcalf totalled 83 receptions, 1303 yards and 10 touchdowns. This all while sharing the field with fellow superstar Seattle wide receiver Tyler Lockett. DK is scary in more than one sense of the word!
AJ Brown: Brown has had a gross start to the 2021 season, but don't let that sway your opinion on him just yet! It's been challenging for Brown this season, you know? With Julio Jones taking over and all. Luckily for Brown, he's still supremely talented and while we wait for him and the playbook to adjust to life with Julio in town. It's important we. don't. forget. how. good. he. is.
Ja'Marr Chase: This was by far the hardest call I had to make. I've gone for Ja'Marr Chase over the likes of Ceedee Lamb, DJ Moore, Jerry Jeudy, and team-mate Tee Higgins. Bengals fans had their head in their hands after Chase's atrocious pre-season. But since then in the regular season, we've seen what made him so highly touted coming out of college. Totalling almost 300 yards and 4 touchdowns in just four career starts. Let's just hope he and his best buddy, Joe Burrow, can keep it going!
TJ Hockenson: Tj is Hocked and loaded to become the leagues premier tight end in the not so distant future. Get it? Hocked and loaded... anyway, he really is the heir to the tight-end throne. With the volatility of the position and established stars Travis Kelce, Darren Waller and George Kittle all nearing or past the age of 30, it's Hockenson's job to lose to become 'that guy'. He's a 2020 pro-bowler and has started the 2021 season on fire! Sit back and enjoy.
Kyle Pitts: It hasn't been the super explosive and exciting start to Pitts' career in the NFL that many had predicted so far. But there's a reason why he was the most hyped up tight end prospect in recent memory. Pitts owns a massive catch radius at 6-foot-6 with 33.5-inch arms, and he combines that physique up with dashing speed and rare cutting ability for his size. It's only a matter of time before he blows up.
Tristan Wirfs: He's not talked about as much as Tom Brady or Rob Gronkowski, but Wirfs is so important to the high octane offense that Tampa Bay owns. After being drafted with the 13th pick in the 2020 drafts, Wirfs went on to start all 16 games, allowing only 1 sack on 799 pass-blocking snaps according to Pro Football Focus. This was a massive draft pull for the Bucs and he has already proven to be a franchise linchpin.
Damien Lewis: Along with Wirfs, Lewis was the only other rookie offensive lineman to allow three or fewer sacks on 500 or more pass-blocking attempts. Lewis also earned the fifth-best run-blocking grade (83.5) of all guards in 2020. All before turning 25!
Jedrick Wills Jr: The Browns found their franchise left tackle in 2020 round 1 draft pick Jedrick Wills Jr. Wills Jr proved more than capable after transitioning from right tackle to left tackle, which is never an easy task. As well as Wills Jr improving, the Cleveland rushing attack went up another level as well. Exciting times for Browns fans with this attack!
Mekhi Becton: In a survey where ESPN asked 50 NFL executives, coaches, scouts and players to vote on who they thought the top 10 offensive tackles were for 2021. Becton voted in at sixth. Bectons name will be right at the top in five years time. He's a major bright spot for an otherwise unwatchable New York Jets offensive unit.
Erik McCoy: New Orleans feel like they will always be contenders no matter what happens. It's because of players like McCoy who lift them in the trenches that give the Saints that appearance. In season 2020, McCoy allowed a total of 15 pressures and allowed only one sack in 677 pass-blocking snaps. Another draft hit for the Saints.
GameDay Squad is an NFT fantasy sports platform that is being released for the 2022 AFL and NRL season. Subscribe below to keep up to date with all things GameDay Squad and NFTs in sport.