January 23, 2014 via Pepsi
The Top Five NFL Players 25 And Under
Normally from the ages of 21 to 25, you’re enjoying the beginning of your manhood. By your early 20’s, your life is filled with effervescence because you’re old enough to know better but young enough to not give you a you know what. Fans have a reason to salivate over the future of the NFL. With a horde of players transitioning from the campus life to the NFL game seamlessly, the game is looking to be in a good place for years to come. With veterans aging and their windows closing, a multitude of players are set on serving as the new faces of the league. What’s great about these players is that not only are they enthralled with the game of football but they’re also young enough to still enjoy life fruitfully. Smile people, these young studs are going to dominate the Pro Bowl this weekend, play a MAJOR role in Super Bowl XLVIII and go on to hold the NFL down for the next decade.
1. Doug Martin (Running Back, Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
The Buccaneers knew Doug Martin would be something special when they used their first round draft pick on him last year. Coach Greg Schiano was overwhelmed with joy last season when Martin touched the field every Sunday because he entrenched himself as an elite running back after just a few games in his young career. A product out of Boise State, Martin’s burst of speed and vision has always been a gift that opposing defenses dreaded. Martin reinvigorated the Bucs’ offense last year. He racked up an impressive 1454 rushing yards—251 came against the Oakland Raiders—and even chipped in on the receiving end finishing with 472 yards. In a deep draft that was quarterback heavy last year, especially with performances by Luck, Griffin, and Wilson, Martin proved to have value at the running back position and even earned himself a trip to the Pro Bowl.
2. Dez Bryant (Wide Receiver, Dallas Cowboys)
It's no secret Dez Bryant is one of the best young players in the NFL. On Wednesday's Pro Bowl draft Deion Sanders picked him up, so if you're not familiar you have a chance to scope him out this weekend. After Terrell Owens departed from the Dallas Cowboys back in 2009, questions about who would replace his gaudy numbers loomed. Animated antics and loquacious press conferences aside, Owens’ presence on the field was instrumental to the success of the Cowboys. In hopes of finding a new No. 1 receiver, the Cowboys drafted Dez Bryant in 2010 and he’s proven to be more than capable of replacing Owens. The precocious receiver dominates defensives with his elusiveness and aggressiveness every time Romo lobs him the ball. During his first two seasons, Bryant posted 15 touchdowns and close to 1500 yards. His third season is when he emerged as a breakout receiver finishing with close to 1400 yards and 12 touchdowns. This season, he’s close to shattering those numbers. With electrifying performances every time out, Bryant is determined to engrave his name alongside the greatest Cowboys receivers of all time.
3. AJ Green (Wide Receiver, Cincinnati Bengals)
Sander's Pro Bowl draft picks are looking strong, considering he also picked Bengals wide receiver AJ Green. All he has to do is look in Green’s direction when he needs a big play to happen this weekend. After being drafted fourth overall in 2012, AJ Green has enraptured the Bengals organization after their attempts with Chad Johnson as their franchise centerpiece failed. During his first two seasons in the league, Green eclipsed the 1000 yard mark seamlessly and formed a dangerous duo with Andy Dalton instilling fear in defenses across the National Football League. The 6’4 receiver has already placed himself in the conversation for best receiver in the game alongside Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones, and Dez Bryant, can't wait to see what he's got in store this weekend.
4. Patrick Peterson (Cornerback, Arizona Cardinals)
Patrick Peterson can virtually do it all. His father made him catch water balloons when he was younger to help develop softer hands. Petersen continues to enrage opposing quarterbacks every time he picks one off. Now fans will get to watch him line up against teammate Larry Fitzgerald in the Pro Bowl this Sunday. All in the name of fun and football, watching these rising stars go head to head should make for an entertaining, high-energy game. Selected 5th in the 2011 Draft by the Arizona Cardinals, Peterson has been a headache for opposing offensive coordinators since day one. Defensively—he can shut down your favorite receiver nine times out of ten. If he’s feeling lucky, he’ll snag a pick-6 to close out his Sundays. Or, if he’s really in the mood, he’ll turn the jets on for punt returns and transform into a human racecar headed straight to the end zone. His stats from 2011 read as following: 64 tackles, two interceptions, one for a touchdown, and four punt returns for a touchdown. That was just his rookie year. His sophomore year, Peterson decided to turn up even more defensively and grab seven interceptions. Peterson was awarded with two Pro Bowl selections his first two years in the league with plans of grabbing a few more this year. Don’t believe us? Just watch.
5. Russell Wilson (Quarterback, Seattle Seahawks)
What is there to say about a 25-year-old quarterback who leads his team to the Super Bowl? Calling the Seahawks Russell Wilson a star doesn't even do him justice. We knew Russell Wilson was great in college when he was playing for the Wisconsin Badgers. Yet he got the constant knock coming into the league because of his height. He proved height wasn’t an issue when the Seahawks drafted him during the third round in 2012. They gave him the reigns and Wilson silenced his critics with a commanding rookie year consisting of a Pro Bowl selection and playoff appearance. We all tell little white lies now and then, but numbers don’t. Wilson’s touchdown to interception ratio—26:10—was among the league’s best. He’s also proven to be a multi-faceted player because of his ability not only to throw the ball and be a reliable scrambler at once. Wilson’s affability and positive attitude have earned him numerous commercials including Madden25 and magazine covers like GQ and ESPN the Magazine. We couldn't be happier for the star, and watching him go head-to-head with a legend like Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is all we can think about.