As the NFL's salary cap increases, veteran players are becoming expensive to lock up or sign in free agency. This makes finding contributors in the draft and undrafted free-agent market extra important.
While it is always preferable to be good than to be merely young or old, we have once again ranked all 32 teams by talent under the age of 25. Last year's U25 rankings had the Cowboys at No. 1 and the Seahawks at 32. Sure, Dallas' talent did not translate to wins after its 35-year-old quarterback was injured, but that is why we wanted to create a ranking that balanced opportunity with performance and potential.
To see our exact methodology, check out the bottom of the article.
Here are our rankings for this season. All ages are as of Sept. 8, 2016. Read through the full file 1-32, or jump to your favorite team using the quick links below.
2015 ranking: 9
Jacksonville's offense made fantasy owners happy last year, but what really drove us to rank this team No. 1 were the additions on defense. How often do you add arguably the best defender in the draft two years in a row, as well as another top-five talent? This is so much about potential with a serious risk of injury, but getting defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., cornerback Jalen Ramsey and linebacker Myles Jack on the field together should make Jacksonville worth watching again. Aaron Colvin is also a solid cornerback who was rarely tested last year despite playing over 1,000 snaps.
Then you go back to that offense, starting with the line. It should be noted that Luke Joeckel has not lived up to his draft status yet, and probably will never, but right guard A.J. Cann had a solid season, ranking eighth in snaps per blown block.
Then there are the skill players. Despite the 35 touchdown passes, Blake Bortles was hardly efficient, ranking 25th in DVOA. He makes a lot of mistakes, and he smashed an NFL record with 13 of those touchdown passes coming in the second half of losses when trailing by multiple scores -- serious garbage-time-hero stuff. But the positive plays still make you believe in Bortles long-term potential as long as he (and the rest of the team) keeps improving.
Wide receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns were excellent last year in helping Bortles look good. They can make tough catches and make defenders miss after the catch. If Marqise Lee or Rashad Greene have anything else to add, then that's just more firepower for this offense. T.J. Yeldon did not find the end zone much as a rookie, and the team signed Chris Ivory, but Yeldon is still likely to be a big factor this year.
You should probably chill on the playoff talk in 2016 for Jacksonville, but some excellent drafting from 2014 to 2016 is the biggest reason for increased optimism.