Ranking the top 25 players under 25 entering the 2024 NFL season: Sauce Gardner, C.J. Stroud and more

• Penei Sewell is already an elite force in the NFL: The 23-year-old's 92.8 PFF overall grade and 95.1 PFF run-blocking grade both led all NFL offensive linemen in 2023.

• Don't count out Trevor Lawrence: The former first-overall pick comes in at No. 3 on this list after earning the highest PFF overall grade of his career in 2023.

• Get a head start on fantasy football: Use PFF's fantasy football mock draft simulator to create real live mock draft simulations to get ready for your live draft!

Estimated Reading Time: 9 minutes

As we enter the summer months, the NFL draft becomes an afterthought and season preview pieces move to the forefront.

Here, we'll look at the top 25 players in the NFL under the age of 25. Since our cut-off point is when the season kicks off, this list excludes the likes of Justin Jefferson and Micah Parsons, who are under 25 at the time of publication but will turn 25 before Week 1.

Click here to read about the top 30 over 30.

1. T Penei Sewell, Detroit Lions

Although Sewell has already played three seasons in the NFL, he is still only 23 years old and will not turn 24 until October. His 3,359 regular-season snaps over the past three seasons rank second among all players, and he is on his way to becoming the best offensive lineman in the league.

The Oregon product's 92.8 PFF overall grade and 95.1 PFF run-blocking grade both led all NFL offensive linemen in 2023.

2. CB Sauce Gardner, New York Jets

Gardner, 23, already has a case as the best cornerback in the NFL. His 91.2 PFF overall grade over the past two seasons leads all players at the position, while his 2,163 regular-season snaps rank third among cornerbacks.

Gardner's 0.52 receiving yards allowed per coverage snap figure not only leads the position, but the gap between him and second place is the same size as the gap between second and 15th.

Click here to see Sauce Gardner's PFF Premium Stats profile.

3. QB Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

Many might call Lawrence’s 2023 season a disappointment, especially considering preseason expectations.

However, he earned the highest overall grade of his career in 2023 and, during the first part of the season, demonstrated why the Jaguars selected him with the first-overall pick three years ago. Lawrence's 88.1 overall grade after 13 weeks last year ranked fifth among quarterbacks.

4. WR Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals

Even though Chase played the fewest snaps in a season in his career (889) and was without quarterback Joe Burrow for an extended period, he still put together another very strong season.

The former LSU Tiger has graded between 83.9 and 85.4 in all three of his NFL seasons, making him one of the most consistent receivers in the league. He also had a career-low four drops in 2023, bringing in 93.6% of his catchable targets, a rate that ranked seventh in the NFL.

5. S Kyle Hamilton, Baltimore Ravens

Hamilton had a true breakout second NFL season, as his 86.4 PFF overall grade ranked sixth among safeties. He established himself as one of the most versatile players in the league, logging 14 quarterback pressures to rank fourth among safeties.

Hamilton's two-year 89.6 PFF overall grade ranks third among all safeties.

6. EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, Detroit Lions

Hutchinson flashed potential in his rookie season in 2022, but he brought his game to a whole new level in 2023. His 91.2 PFF pass-rushing grade placed fifth and trailed only an elite group of four players: Myles Garrett, Micah Parsons, Nick Bosa and T.J. Watt. Hutchinson's 110 total pressures during the regular season ranked second among edge defenders.

7. QB C.J. Stroud, Houston Texans

Stroud burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2023 as one of the most promising quarterbacks in the NFL. Out of 95 rookie quarterbacks who have played at least 100 snaps in their first season since 2006, Stroud’s 83.1 PFF overall grade ranks fourth.

While Stroud's 4,108 passing yards ranked eighth in the NFL as he led the Texans into the playoffs, 59.0% of that total came before the catch, which ranked third in the NFL.

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8. QB Brock Purdy, San Francisco 49ers

Many questioned whether Purdy could play better in 2023 than he did in his unprecedented rookie 2022 campaign. Yet, Mr. Irrelevant was able to further improve his play and finished his second NFL season as PFF’s sixth-highest-graded quarterback (87.4). His 9.3 yards per pass attempt during the regular season led all quarterbacks.

9. WR Garrett Wilson, New York Jets

Wilson had a quieter Year 2 in which he earned a lower PFF grade than in his rookie campaign, but the Jets' quarterback situation after Aaron Rodgersearly season-ending injury didn't help matters. Still, Wilson ranks 19th among wide receivers over the past two seasons in PFF overall grade (81.3).

10. CB Trent McDuffie, Kansas City Chiefs

After starting his career as an outside cornerback, McDuffie moved inside toward the second half of his rookie season and played mostly in the slot in his second season when the Chiefs had more than two cornerbacks on the field. This move aligned with McDuffie becoming one of the best young cornerbacks in the league and one of the most versatile players at the position.

His 16 total pressures in 2023 led all cornerbacks by a wide margin, and he gave up just nine receiving yards on seven targets in the Super Bowl.

11. WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit Lions

St. Brown, who will turn 25 during the 2024 season, proved in 2023 that his breakout 2022 campaign was not a fluke. He was one of just three wide receivers to earn PFF overall grades above 90.0 in both 2022 and 2023, with Tyreek Hill and Justin Jefferson being the other two. St. Brown has snagged 93.5% of his catchable targets over the past two seasons, which ranks second among wide receivers.

12. WR Puka Nacua, Los Angeles Rams

A fifth-round pick, Nacua exceeded all expectations as a rookie in Los Angeles. He played as a top-10 wide receiver in the NFL by almost any measure, and his 90.2 PFF overall grade ranked eighth at the position in 2023.

Nacua averaged 5.9 yards after the catch in 2023, the fourth-best mark among wide receivers with 100-plus targets.

13. CB Pat Surtain II, Denver Broncos

Surtain was higher on this list one year ago, but he was unable to follow up his breakout 2022 campaign with a stronger 2023. Admittedly, the Broncos' defense largely struggled last season, and while Surtain gave up the most receptions and the highest passer rating in his young career, he has every chance to bounce back in 2024 and show again that he is one of the best young defenders in the NFL.

14. EDGE Will Anderson Jr., Houston Texans

Although Anderson’s first NFL season was slowed down by an ankle injury, it did not stop him from earning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.

Anderson stood out not just among 2023’s rookies, as his 16.7% pressure rate ranked first among all rookie edge defenders over the past four seasons.

15. OL Tyler Smith, Dallas Cowboys

Although Smith has already played 2,311 snaps in the NFL, he just turned 23 years old in April. The former first-round pick played mainly at left tackle in his first season due to injuries but was featured exclusively at left guard in his second year.

Smith will likely continue to play inside, where he has a chance to become one of the best interior offensive linemen, highlighted by the fact that his 74.4 PFF overall grade in 2023 ranked 11th among guards.

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16. RB Bijan Robinson, Atlanta Falcons

Expectations were sky-high for Robinson after the Falcons selected him with the eighth overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. While he rushed for more than 100 yards twice in his first four games, he was unable to reach that milestone in his last 13 outings.

Even though the production was not necessarily there in 2023, Robinson remains one of the most promising young skill-position players in the NFL.

17. S Jevon Holland, Miami Dolphins

Even though he missed time due to injury, Holland bounced back well in 2023 following a somewhat disappointing sophomore season. After 12 weeks, Holland was the NFL’s highest-graded safety overall (91.2) and the top coverage player at the position (90.7).

He has the potential to be one of the best safeties in the league over the next couple of seasons if he can avoid injuries.

18. EDGE Greg Rousseau, Buffalo Bills

Rousseau has steadily improved, going from a 73.1 PFF overall grade as a rookie to an 80.7 mark in 2022 to finally being the 13th-highest-graded edge defender in the league in 2023 (87.1).

However, while Rousseau's production improved every season, he has yet to surpass 600 snaps in a regular season. The next step in his development will be keeping up the same production in an increased role.

19. TE Sam LaPorta, Detroit Lions

Multiple first-round tight ends have faced high expectations in recent years. LaPorta, a second-round pick last year, was not one of them, but he arguably outplayed all rookie tight ends over the past decade.

His 981 regular-season snaps as a rookie led all tight ends over the past six seasons by a significant margin. In addition, his overall and receiving grades are second to only Kyle Pitts’ rookie season over that span.

20. C Tyler Linderbaum, Baltimore Ravens

Linderbaum was already good in his rookie season, but he showed some weaknesses in pass blocking. Now two seasons into his career, he is one of the best centers in the NFL. He was the only player at the position to earn pass-blocking and run-blocking grades both over 78.0 in 2023.

21. RB Jahmyr Gibbs, Detroit Lions

While he had a limited role initially, Gibbs got more and more playing time as the 2023 season wore on and became an electric playmaker for the Lions in the second half of his rookie campaign. Following Week 7 — after his return from injury — he earned a 78.0 PFF overall grade, which ranked 11th among running backs, while his 82.0 rushing grade tied for seventh at the position.

22. DI Jalen Carter, Philadelphia Eagles

Off-field issues likely led to Carter sliding in the 2023 NFL Draft as the ninth-overall pick, because on the field he was among the better players at his position from Week 1.

Carter picked up nine quarterback pressures in his very first game against the Patriots, which was tied for the second most in an outing by a rookie all season. In the end, he earned an 87.4 PFF overall grade, which ranked sixth among interior defenders.

23. CB Derek Stingley Jr., Houston Texans

Stingley's first season was somewhat disappointing and cut short due to injuries, and despite some injuries in 2023, too, he showed why he was the first cornerback selected in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Stingley's 85.3 PFF coverage grade tied for the fifth highest among all cornerbacks in 2023, as he allowed just a 74.3 passer rating.

Click here to see Derek Stingley Jr.'s PFF Premium Stats profile.

24. WR Chris Olave, New Orleans Saints

Olave has reached 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first two NFL seasons despite playing with multiple quarterbacks over that period. He has also been among the most efficient receivers in the league, as his 2.19 receiving yards per route run ranks 12th

The Ohio State product has earned an 86.8 PFF overall grade across his first two NFL seasons, ranking 14th among wide receivers.

25. TE Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons

While Pitts surpassed 1,000 receiving yards in his rookie year, he failed to reach 700 receiving yards in either of his two seasons since then. However, he is still only 23 years old and has shown plenty of potential to suggest that he can become one of the top tight ends in the NFL.


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