NFL.com recently published an article listing the top 10 players under the age of 25 – the young guns, as they call them. And the SEC more than represented on this list. In fact, the SEC has four former members listed in the top 10 players under 25.
We have grown accustomed to and down-right spoiled with the amount of talent that funnels through the SEC year-in and year-out.
Without further ado, here are the four who made the list, with a snipit from NFL.com:
WR AJ Green, 23 yrs old, Cincinnati Bengals (Georgia)
The NFL is loaded with young studs at wide receiver. There were several worthy candidates for this list but Green is the best of the bunch. He has ideal size, short-area quickness, deep speed and ball skills. He also has the toughness to work in the middle of the field. He finished his rookie campaign with 65 catches for 1,057 yards and seven TDs. I’d look for all of those numbers to rise significantly in his second season.
QB Cam Newton, 23 yrs old, Carolina Panthers (Auburn)
Do you remember when everyone was concerned about Cam Newton’s play calls being too simple at Auburn? I’m pretty sure that didn’t end up being much of a problem. All he did in his rookie season was throw for more than 4,000 yards and combine for 35 TDs. He proved that he was capable of staying in the pocket and making plays with his arm. He throws a beautiful deep ball and helped revitalize the career of Steve Smith. He’s a very dangerous runner when he decides to leave the pocket, and he’s built to take the extra pounding that results from it.
Maurkice Pouncey, 22 yrs old, Pittsburgh Steelers (Florida)
Pouncey has put together two dominant seasons for the Steelers and established himself as the top center in the NFL. The Jets’ Nick Mangold and the Panthers’ Ryan Kalil are both outstanding but neither possesses Pouncey’s combination of size and athletic ability. He has the strength to anchor in pass protection and the power to create movement at the point of attack in the run game.
QB Matthew Stafford, 24 yrs old, Detroit Lions (Georgia)
Surprised? It’s hard to believe that Stafford is still only 24 years old. After two injury-plagued years, he was able to stay healthy and post some incredible numbers in 2011. He passed for more than 5,000 yards and 41 TDs while leading the Lions back to the playoffs for the first time since 1999. He has a tremendous skillset for the position. He has good size, arm-strength, touch and poise. He should be one of the league’s elite signal callers for the next decade.
All four dominated their positions during their time in the SEC, especially Newton.
Personally, I thought Patrick Peterson was snubbed from this list. He’s a lockdown corner, who made everyone take notice of his tremendous athletic ability we all saw while returning punts at Tiger Stadium. He’s electric and deserved to be on this list.