Football Outsiders, via the ESPN Insider area, has put together NFL rankings of the 32 teams based on the quality of players each team has of players 25 years old and younger. The list does have influences beyond just age, among them whether the young players starting last season were doing so out of talent or just being an injury replacement, how much those young players impact the passing game (because that’s where the league is headed) and if a team has a talented young quarterback.
The Patriots are No. 1, the Lions No. 2 (two teams the Cards play this season). The Cardinals are 17th on the list. Unfortunately, NFC West rivals are higher. The 49ers are 15th, the Seahawks 12th. (The Rams are 24th.) As always, these are subjective opinions, but the analysis of the Cards reads:
“This all starts with CB Patrick Peterson. It’s not often you find a player with the talent to both cover No. 1 receivers and return punts at a high level, and we nudged Arizona up accordingly. With LBs Sam Acho and O’Brien Schofield having another year of NFL experience under their belt, odds are the Cardinals will generate a better pass rush than they did last season. Dan Williams had a down year, but he’s still one of the more physically gifted nose tackles in the game. The offense isn’t as settled, but what’s impressive is the sheer number of NFL-caliber players they can throw at you: QB John Skelton, WR Andre Roberts, WR Michael Floyd, TE Rob Housler and RBs Beanie Wells and LaRod Stephens-Howling. We have to reward that quantity, even if most of that group hasn’t made a huge impact yet.”
Building through youth and the draft is the only way to really create any kind of sustained long-term success in this league. I am shocked, to be honest, that LB Daryl Washington — still 25 — is not on the list. Out of every young player the Cards have, I’d put Washington right below Peterson.
Schofield is also 14th on an accompanying list of under-the-radar top prospect list (players drafted in the third round or later.)
Tags: 49ers, Andre Roberts, Beanie Wells, Dan Williams, John Skelton, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Lions, Michael Floyd, O'Brien Schofield, Patrick Peterson, Patriots, Rams, Rob Housler, Sam Acho, Seahawks
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