Next-best under-25 players

Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston shook off the "tweener" label with 10 sacks last season. AP Photo/Colin E. Braley

Kiper: Top 25 NFL players under 25 | Sprow: Next 10

Now that Mel has put together a first NFL 25 under-25 rankings that will enrage many, let me pacify some of you by letting you know who was right in the mix, or at least should have been. Once again, however, remember the rules:

1. All players must be under age 25 as of Week 1 of the 2013 season.
So a player such as A.J. Green, who would rank high here, is not on the list because he turns 25 between now and Week 1.

2. Players are ranked based on overall talent, total production AND the likelihood of future production.
It's necessary to include assumed future production, because that's how teams value players. You are more valuable if you are likely to be a very good player in 2013, not just because you were fantastic in 2012. Contracts are given for production expected, not past production.

3. Positional value is a big factor.
Blair Walsh is a great young kicker. He did not make the list. The position you play matters here just as it does when teams and players negotiate deals.

4. Health matters.
Staying healthy really is a performance evaluation in the NFL. Because future production is a factor, health must be, too.

With the rules in place and without any chance of a misinterpretation, ahem, here are the next 10.

1. Justin Houston, OLB, Kansas City (24 years old)