Best football players younger than 27

Who are the best football players currently younger than 27? This is my list, and I’d like to read yours’ as well.

QB: Andrew Luck, Colts, 24.
RB: LeSean McCoy, Eagles, 25.
FB: Bruce Miller, 49ers, 26.
TE: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots, 25.
RWR: A.J. Green, Bengals, 25.
LWR: Julio Jones, Falcons, 25.
SWR: Dez Bryant, Cowboys, 25.
LT: Tyron Smith, Cowboys, 23.
LG: Larry Warford, Lions, 22.
C: Travis Frederick, Cowboys, 23.
RG: David DeCastro, Steelers, 24.
RT: Anthony Davis, 49ers, 24.
RDE: Robert Quinn, Rams, 24.
RDT: Gerald McCoy, Buccaneers, 26.
NT: Marcell Dareus, Bills, 24.
LDE: J.J. Watt, Texans, 25.
SAM: Von Miller, Broncos, 25.
MIKE: NaVorro Bowman, 49ers, 26.
WILL: Lavonte David, Buccaneers, 24.
LCB: Richard Sherman, Seahawks, 26.
RCB: Joe Haden, Browns, 25.
SCB: Patrick Peterson, Cardinals, 23.
FS: Earl Thomas, Seahawks, 25.
SS: Kam Chancellor, Seahawks, 26.

This article has 87 Comments

    1. PFF gave him a +19.7 run defense grade last season, third-best among DT/NTs. He had 45 “stops” last season — solos tackles that resulted in failure for the opposing offense.

          1. I don’t have one, but I want to know if you think he’s lived up to his draft status and made his defense better?

          2. I think you are probably going to get far more comments on your list, rather than posters submitting their own. I think you request is beyond any rational expectations one can have for the average fan. Especially from this poster. Most fans just don’t follow the entire NFL which would be essential in order to even begin to make a credible list of this sort. I don’t consider myself to be in the league of some of the more knowledgeable fans who post on this site, but close enough in respect to the average to use as an example in that respect. The most you could expect from someone like me is perhaps an opinion of some player I think belongs on your list instead of the one you included. Other wise this would turn out to be a very exclusive and limited response thread.

    1. To put Von miller over Aldon smith is just stupid. He is a very good player but he is not Aldon smith. He did not leave Aldon off due to his pending legal problems. If he did he should of left off Darius as well. Arrested twice in the last month.

        1. Aldon Smith is one of the most dominant defensive players in the NFL. The only way he’s not on this list,somewhere, is for reasons other than his play on the field.

  1. Hard to argue with that list – lots of good young players.

    Aldon Smith, despite his off-field troubles, deserves to be included though. 42 sacks in 43 games is no fluke. As good as Quinn is, Smith is better… but its a close run thing. Man that was a good draft for pass rushers.

    Changes I’d make to your list are:

    C: Maurkice Pouncey over Frederick. I don’t like the Pouncey twins, but they sure can play.
    RDE/ ROLB: Aldon Smith over Quinn. Close one, but Aldon gets the nod.
    RDT: Muhammed Wilkerson over McCoy. Looked like a budding All-Pro last season. I’m running more of a 3-4, so Wilkerson is my pick here.
    NT: Dontari Poe over Dareus. Poe is a true NT which gives him the edge over Dareus here for me.
    WILL/ JACK: I’m running more of a 3-4 D, that switches to 4-3. Bowman is perfect as the Jack for the 49ers, so he gets the nod here.
    MIKE: With Bowman playing the Jack in my 3-4, I take Luke Kuechly as the Mike.
    SAM/ LOLB: No change in personnel here, I’m going with Miller, but he’ll be playing LOLB in a 3-4.
    SS: Eric Berry over Kam Chancellor. Chancellor is great in the Seahawks D, but I think he’s a system guy. Berry is a great all round SS and only 25.

    1. PFF gave Robert Quinn a ridiculous +77.2 last season and he didn’t have the benefit of playing next to Justin Smith.

      1. Quinn is good, no doubt. But as good as he is, I believe Aldon is better. More versatile too, which suits the 3-4/ 4-3 hybrid I’d go with to accommodate Watt, Wilkerson and Miller.

      2. However, I will say of Quinn has another season like 2013 this year, and Smith doesn’t match it, I’ll change my tune.

      3. You mean an aging Justin smith. Justin smith was a soild player before Aldon got there but he didnt take off until Aldon got there. Both of there play droped off when one of the other are out. I will argue that Aldon has been dominate ever since he was drafted. Justin smith not so much. Was good with the bengals but not great. Plus Quinn is playing with a very good front 4 as well. Alot younger then the niners front 4.

      4. That was the first season Quinn outperformed Smith and it was because Smith missed a bunch of games and dealt with his alcohol addiction. His first two years in the league, Smith set a new standard for sacks and ranking Quinn ahead of him because of one season is short sighted. Smith has the better body of work by quite a margin.

    2. I think Chancellor is a better fit with Thomas and Sherman than Berry because Chancellor is a much better run defender than Berry.

      1. That’s an easy comment to make given those three already play together, so you know they can do it in the right system. But with the DL I’ve listed as well as Bowman and Kuechly inside, I’d rather go with a SS you can move around more than Chancellor. Berry is very good all round. Can play as an extra LB, can drop down and cover, or can play deep. Great versatility, allows you to play multiple systems.

        1. PFF gave Eric Reid a higher run defense grade (1.1) than Eric Berry (0.9) last season.

          Having Thomas and Sherman allows you to play an extra man in the box, and Chancellor is the best safety younger than 27 in that role.

          1. I’d rather the versatility Berry provides and allows for.

            I like PFF, but their ratings aren’t perfect. Chancellor benefits from playing on a great D, and playing in a very specialised role that doesn’t ask him to do too many different things.

            1. Versatility isn’t as important when you have Thomas and Sherman. You need a run-stopper to complement them.

              1. Why do you need an 8th LB as your SS when you have Poe, Wilkerson, Watt, Bowman and Kuechly in the middle already?

                I’d rather a SS that can do it all – come down and play the run but also cover well and help disguise coverages. Its not as if Berry is a bad run defender, despite how PFF may have graded him.

                End of the day, I think Berry is a better safety than Chancellor.

              2. Because football is a numbers game. Sherman doesn’t need help over the top, especially not with Thomas at FS.

              3. The Seahawks have a great D, but there are plenty of ways to play very successful defense. Having Thomas back at FS allows Carroll to use a SS that is for all intents and purposes a 4th LB. It fits what Carroll wants to do perfectly. But that doesn’t mean a guy that can also provide more in coverage like Berry wouldn’t be a good fit.

                I think you are really underrating Berry here. Berry can play down in the box, and has been very successful doing so for the Chiefs. Some consider him to be the best run-stopping SS in the NFL, and despite your use of PFF stats against him there is a reason PFF had him as a first team all pro. Berry plays in the box for KC a lot, playing as an extra LB. But he also has much better range than Chancellor that allows him to be used to either drop down in man-coverage or play deeper in a 2 deep shell. Berry is the guy the Chiefs run the secondary around – they have him lining up all over the place to take advantage of his skills. He’s a playmaker, and a complete safety. Chancellor you can’t do that with so much – he’s more scheme specific, albeit excellent in that scheme.

              4. Probably Chiefs fans. I could have sworn I saw an article about Berry after his rookie year where they were rating him the best run-stopping SS in the game, but can’t find it. Oh well. I do believe he has rated right up there every year (bar the year he blew out his knee) in terms of defensive stops. Second last year behind only TJ Ward.

                Doesn’t matter though – everything else I wrote holds. He’s primarily an in the box safety with the speed and ability to also play in coverage. He also provides great ability to get after the QB as an extra rusher.

              5. What I think is funny is that heading into 2013 the talk around the league was that Berry was a bit of a liability in coverage, but excelled at run support in the box. Now we are having a debate about whether Berry is a good run defender while agreeing he is excellent in pass defense. Go figure.

                My take: He’s an excellent all round SS that can be used in multiple ways.

      2. Let me make sure I have this straight…

        Grant moves down Aldon Smith because he plays next to Justin Smith. Then he turns around and moves up Chancellor because he plays with Thomas and Sherman. Is it just me, or does that seem like an odd double standard?

        At any rate, when the article is about the best players under 27, it should be about the best players under 27. Your argument for putting Chancellor on the list over Berry appears to be that he’s a better fit for the Seahawks. This shouldn’t be about who complements Sherman and Thomas, it should be about who is the better young safety. Unless I’ve totally missed the point of the article, you’re not building a team here, you’re identifying the best young players. Who complements who doesn’t have much place in that discussion.

  2. I like the list, but where is Aldon Smith? Naturally his value is reduced if he can’t get on the field. His omission might make sense depending on how one defines “best.”

    For “best” as in “how he play when on the field” Aldon belongs at the very top.

    I would also include CK. He has flaws the drive me crazy, but he has unique qualities that create holes and put pressure on defenses. Vernon Davis is the same. Even if goes for no catches and spends all day blocking, his speed creates gaps in defenses other 49ers can exploit.

    1. Agree B2W,
      But unfortunately it doesn’t seem that PFF rcognizes variables and circumstances that are a major part of sports.

  3. Good list Grant.
    I have a couple players who should make the list as well.
    1. Aldon Smith 49ers
    2. Greg Hardy Panthers
    Not sure if he makes the cut-off age but if he does I go with Cam Newton.

  4. Correct me if im wrong but where are the names coming from on the linebacker list. I tried to google but i guess im stupid. Where did it originate? Is it, Sam Mills, Jack Lambert, Mike Singletary, will??? Or am i reaching with names?

    1. I don’t believe they have anything to do with past footballers, but are simply names applied to designate the position, based on the first letter. SAM = Strongside, MIKE = Middle, WILL = Weakside.

      The JACK is a jack-of-all-trades, I believe. JACK is usually considered an OLB, something like an elephant role, but I believe the 49ers use the JACK term for Bowman’s position at ILB. I could be wrong on that though.

    1. Yeah, right .. exactly … razor ..

      and if anyone believes that ..
      I got a brand new bridge to sell them ….

      Oh-h-h … Mary !!

  5. Including Robert Quinn while excluding Aldon Smith is asinine. This reveals your personal bias against Smith. The guy might be a major tool but he’s a great football player and deserves to be on this list. You seem to think Aldon’s production is a result of the outstanding play of Justin Smith. Well, Robert Quinn has the luxury of playing next to some pretty damn good football players too. The Rams have used 4 first round picks on D lineman in the past several drafts and they’ve brought in some good players via free agency. Admittedly, none of them is or will ever be Justin Smith but Quinn has the luxury of playing next to good players. If you go out and survey 100 NFL coaches and ask them who is better between Bruce Miller and Aldon Smith, I’ll bet 100 coaches would respond Aldon Smith.

      1. Quinn is a great player but I think Smith is better. I guess that’s the fun part of sports debate. There is always a difference of opinion.

  6. dumb read…….I just know there is someone out there who can be useful to this blog…..

    what a waste of time!!!!!

  7. The changes I’d make to the list are Josh Gordon ahead of all 3 WR’s listed. I’d also put Demaryius Thomas ahead of Bryant.

    Maurice Pouncey at C.

    Aldon Smith as 3-4 OLB which you need to have on the list.

    Dontari Poe as NT.

    Luke Kuechly instead of David.

    Eric Berry at SS.

      1. I’d say Alfred Morris but it’s pretty much a toss up between him and Murray. Murray would be great if he could stay healthy. That Oline in Dallas looks like it could be a top 5 unit this year so he’ll have a great year if he stays on the field.

          1. Doesn’t matter. Morris is more durable and has had better overall numbers his first two years in the league as a runner and his ability to stay on the field.

      2. Demarco Murray over Eddie lacy. What kind of dope do you do grant? Jesus man! I would take leveon bell and the muscle hamster over him. What about forte.. It goes on and on.

  8. I am not sure if New England would pick Gronk, if they had a choice again, the guy is made of glass. He has a shirt that says Fragile Handle with Care.

  9. Since we are well into the annual 4-month optimism season, Polian on Bethea’s signing with the 49ers…

    “I was astounded when they (The Colts) let him go, to be honest with you,” “That shocked me.”

    1. Doesn’t Blaine have like 2 mil coming to him no matter what…I wonder if he’s able to restructure, but I’m not sure why he would.

      Seems to put some pressure on coaching staff to make this guy work.

    2. Basing on just a hunch…
      – Justin will remain the better player, but Tank will be deployed more in the pass rusher role.
      – All the talk about Tank being a “Bull in a china shop” during practices last year makes me optimistic about his development

    3. I think Tank will. Cowboy is great, but he’s definitely on the wrong side of 30 these days. I expect statistically this won’t be one of Cowboy’s better years.

  10. I do not see David Fales on this list…that must mean only 2 things…he’s older than 27….or maybe just maybe… a typo

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