NFL 25 Under 25 Rankings: Khalil Mack is No. 1


The value of elite young talent has perhaps never been greater in the NFL. With the rookie wage scale, savvy teams can draft top-tier production for bargain prices and build the core of a perennial Super Bowl contender (see: Seattle Seahawks).

The list below assesses the top 25 players under age 25. After two consecutive years on top, Andrew Luck no longer qualified (must be 24 or younger by Week 1 of the 2015 NFL season). But growing older does come with its perks: The Colts QB is in line for a significant pay raise in the not-too-distant future.

Without further delay, our top 25 under 25.

1. Khalil Mack, OLB, Oakland Raiders

Jack Del Rio's move from Denver to Oakland naturally has generated talk about Mack becoming a Von Miller-type playmaker. Mack actually edged Miller for the top spot in Pro Football Focus' grading for 4-3 outside linebackers last season, largely due to his strength in defending the run. Mack's sack total should rise from four last season: He had 40 hurries, according to PFF's charting -- seven fewer than Miller had and more than triple the total of any other 4-3 outside linebacker.

2. Tyron Smith, LT, Dallas Cowboys

Every aspect of the position appears to be a strength for Smith. He's technically sound and physically lean and long-armed; he's savvy enough to set up opponents and athletic enough to pull on the perimeter; he's devastating as a finisher and patient as a pass-protector. Smith has, on occasion, driven defenders off the all-22 video screen entirely. Smith also plays a position of importance, putting him in the running for the top spot. He looks like a Hall of Fame talent.