Pro Football Network published a list of the top 25 players in the NFL who are 25 and younger. No Packers made the list, with some obvious oversights.
GREEN BAY, Wis. – Pro Football Network published a list of the NFL’s top 25 players who will be 25 years old or younger when the NFL season kicks off on Sept. 8.
No members of the Green Bay Packers made the list. Including the 21 honorable mentions that bumped the young-guys list up to 46, only one Packers player made the cut: safety Darnell Savage.
That would suggest a lack of young, high-level talent on the roster. Young players are the lifeblood of most teams because they’re playing under inexpensive rookie contracts.
It’s those contracts that make the accounting work for teams like the Packers, who have a roster filled with high-priced veterans.
The reality isn’t quite so dreary. Not even close, actually. Listed from youngest to oldest, here are five standout Packers who will be 25 or younger when the season kicks off on Sept. 11.
CB Eric Stokes (will turn 24 on March 1)
A first-round pick in 2021, Stokes had a school-of-hard-knocks education with regular matchups against Davante Adams during training camp last summer.
Battle-tested, SIS charged Stokes with a 46.2 percent completion rate and 5.3 yards per target, figures that ranked sixth and eighth, respectively, among starting corners.
He would have garnered a lot more accolades had he corralled some of his four dropped interceptions.
RB A.J. Dillon (will turn 25 on May 2)
A second-round pick in 2020, Dillon was a breakout player last year. Of course, the burly Dillon was hard to tackle. He led the Packers with 803 rushing yards and ranked No.
1 in the NFL in Football Outsiders’ Success Rate, a metric that mirrors Green Bay’s won/loss grades. Where he was a revelation was as a receiver.
He wasn’t asked to catch passes at Boston College. He was asked to catch them for Green Bay. According to Pro Football Focus, 44 backs were targeted at least 35 times.
Dillon ranked third in catch rate (91.9 percent) and eighth in YAC per catch (9.2) while catching 34 balls for 313 yards and two scores.
For what it’s worth, only the Colts’ Jonathan Taylor made the 25-man PFN list, and no backs were listed among the honorable mentions.
S Darnell Savage (will turn 25 on July 30)
A first-round pick in 2019, Savage has started 46 of a possible 49 games in three seasons and has eight interceptions and 26 passes defensed on his resume.
He dropped three interceptions last season, according to Sports Info Solutions, and ranked among the worst safeties in tackling, according to PFF. Mostly, he played deep and helped eliminate big plays – an unsung but highly important role.
No safeties were picked for PFN’s 25-man team; Savage, the Giants’ Xavier McKinney and Indianapolis’ Julian Blackmon were honorable mentions as safeties.
OLB Rashan Gary (will turn 25 on Dec. 3)
A first-round pick in 2019, Gary turned traits into superb production during a breakout third season. Gary’s 9.5 sacks were but the tip of the iceberg.
Of the 80 edge defenders with at least 214 rushes, Gary ranked third in PFF’s pass-rushing productivity.
He ranked second in the NFL in both pressures (81) and pass-rush win rate (26.0 percent). After thriving under Mike Smith, he’ll have to adapt to new position coach Jason Rebrovich.
Washington’s Chase Young, Las Vegas’ Maxx Crosby, San Francisco’s Nick Bosa and Carolina’s Brian Burns were the edge rushers on PFN’s 25-and-under list.
Only Dallas linebacker Micah Parsons, a linebacker/edge hybrid, beat Gary in PFF’s pass-rushing productivity among the 25-and-younger contingent, and only Crosby and Parsons beat him in win percentage.
That Gary wasn’t even an honorable mention – Philadelphia’s Josh Sweat was – is comical.
CB Jaire Alexander (will turn 26 on Feb. 9)
A first-round pick in 2018, Alexander’s exclusion from this list, presumably because he missed most of last season with a shoulder injury, basically renders the PFN story null and void.
In four seasons, he’s allowed just a 49.2 percent completion rate, according to Sports Info Solutions, with five interceptions and 44 passes defensed.
The cornerbacks on the 25-player list include Dallas’ Trevon Diggs, Cleveland’s Denzel Ward and Atlanta’s A.J. Terrell.
Also drafted in the first round in 2018, Ward has given up a career catch rate of 49.3 percent. He has 10 interceptions and 50 passes defensed.
A first-round pick in 2020, Diggs intercepted a whopping 11 passes last year. He also was guilty of a league-high 11 penalties and gave up a league-worst 916 yards.
A first-round pick in 2020, Terrell’s two-year catch rate is 51.4 percent but he was No. 1 at 37.4 percent last year.
Men in the Middle
They’re not standouts but the solid interior of Green Bay’s offensive line is young and ascending.
Center Josh Myers will turn 24 on July 16, left guard Jon Runyan will turn 25 on Aug. 8 and right guard Royce Newman will turn 25 on Aug. 17.
Myers was the 62nd pick of last year’s draft. Green Bay selected him over Creed Humphrey, who went No. 63 to Kansas City.
Myers started six games and allowed eight pressures, according to PFF. Humphrey started all 17 games, allowed 10 pressures and was the All-Rookie center.
Humphrey was one of four offensive linemen listed on PFN’s 25-man list.