Clutch Performers

Offensive Player Rankings, Week 8: Top five QBs under 25 I'd build around

The future of the quarterback position is bright.

The last two league MVPs (Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson) were both under the age of 25 when they won the award (Jackson is still just 23 years old) and a slew of other young guns are making their mark. Look no further than Week 7 for evidence, when Kyler Murray outdueled this year's MVP front-runner, Russell Wilson for an overtime victory in prime time. And what about the hype surrounding rookies Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa? Burrow and Herbert have one win apiece, while Miami's young QB played just five offensive snaps (and completed both of his pass attempts) before Dolphins coach Brian Flores named him the team's starter going forward.

With so much young talent under center, I decided to rank the top five quarterbacks under 25 years old that I would build around. To be clear, I like Tua as much as the next guy, but I'm going to need to see more than two passes before I can put him in my top five. And before you @ me on Twitter, Mahomes and Deshaun Watson are over the age of 25, so they don't qualify for this ranking (both turned 25 last month). Now, onto the list.

Kyler Murray
Arizona Cardinals · Age: 23

Career stats: 23 games | 10-12-1 record as starter | 65.2 pct | 5,569 pass yds | 7.0 ypa | 33 pass TD | 19 INT | 89.4 QB rating | 981 rush yds | 11 rush TD | 3 fumbles lost

Murray showed a lot of positives in his first year in Kliff Kingsbury's Air Raid offense, executing quick throws and extending plays by using his legs. In Year 2, Murray is being used on more designed QB runs and he's chopping up defenses as a result. Ranking first in rush yards (437) among quarterbacks this season, Murray is often the most dynamic runner on the field. It just so happens he has a big-time arm, too. The addition of DeAndre Hopkins has helped open up the field, giving the Cardinals' offense a boost, but Murray wouldn't be making such a Year 2 jump without perfecting his game -- improving his knowledge of the system and his reads -- in the offseason. 

He's the most talented young quarterback right now. If Murray gets in a rhythm, he is the ultimate threat: An accurate passer who's improving his vertical game and continuing to show ability as a runner that's comparable to Lamar Jackson's.

Lamar Jackson
Baltimore Ravens · Age: 23

Career stats: 37 games | 24-4 record as starter | 63.6 pct | 5,463 pass yds | 7.5 ypa | 52 pass TD | 11 INT | 103.5 QB rating | 2,247 rush yds | 14 rush TD | 7 fumbles lost

Cam Newton was the QB who ran the option better than anyone we'd ever seen until Jackson came along and said hold my beer during his record-setting 2019 season. He takes Greg Roman's evolving option scheme to another level as a dynamic runner and improving passer who threatens defenses on the perimeter on every snap. As good a runner as Jackson is, his best quality is his spatial awareness. He's so in tune with where defenders are on the field. He's also getting smarter when it comes to protecting himself from hits.

Josh Allen
Buffalo Bills · Age: 24

Career stats: 35 games | 20-14 record as starter | 59.1 pct | 7,181 pass yds | 6.9 ypa | 46 pass TD | 25 INT | 84.9 QB rating | 1,345 rush yds | 20 rush TD | 10 fumbles lost

Allen is a physical, effective runner with the biggest arm in the league. That's right. With all due respect to Mahomes, Allen can throw it harder and farther than anyone. Now, the throw may not always be accurate, but the defense knows Allen can rifle the ball anywhere at anytime. the Bills' QB1 makes it so tough for defenses playing zone coverage because he can rip the ball to his receiver in almost any situation, even when it appears all the gaps are covered. Allen has improved in each of his three NFL seasons -- the offseason addition of Stefon Diggs has certainly helped. His steady climb is proof that he's not just relying on his physical ability but taking the time to understand and execute Brian Daboll's offense.

Justin Herbert
Los Angeles Chargers · Age: 22

Career stats: 5 games | 1-4 record as starter | 67.4 pct | 1,542 pass yds | 8.4 ypa | 12 pass TD | 3 INT | 108.1 QB rating | 121 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 1 fumble lost

Herbert is as fearless as they come and I love watching him play because of it. In just five career starts, the rookie has already shown that he understands where to place the ball, how to throw receivers open and when to get the ball out. He's athletic in the pocket, subtly sliding away from pressure, and is a threat in the run game. He's not going to wow you with his running ability but defenses must account for his ability to take off. 

The epitome of a touchdown-to-checkdown quarterback, Herbert isn't afraid to let it fly. He's thrown seven touchdowns on passes of at least 20 air yards (second to Wilson's nine), per Next Gen Stats. The fact that the Chargers have lost games to Mahomes, Tom Brady and Drew Brees by seven points or fewer (taking the Chiefs and Saints to overtime) with Herbert as the starter is saying something. Maybe Herbert is too young to know any better but his aggressiveness is one of his best qualities.

Joe Burrow
Cincinnati Bengals · Age: 23

Career stats: 7 games | 1-5-1 record as starter | 66.6 pct | 2,023 pass yds | 6.9 ypa | 9 pass TD | 5 INT | 89.4 QB rating | 121 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 3 fumbles lost

Burrow's best quality is his mental makeup. No matter how much the 1-5-1 Bengals have struggled, it's obvious the game isn't too big for him and that he's not going to be complacent with losing. He's surrounded by a talented receiving corps with Tyler Boyd, A.J. Green and Tee Higgins, among others, but a shoddy offensive line and run game have forced Burrow to try to win games with his arm every week. It's extremely to difficult to have success as a quarterback in this league under those circumstances. The No. 1 overall pick is seeing the field and dissecting defenses well. If we're talking pure pocket passers, I'd take Burrow's decision-making and feel in the pocket over most other NFL signal-callers' despite the limited sample size.

Top 15 Offensive Players

Each week in the 2020 campaign, former No. 1 overall pick and NFL Network analyst David Carr will take a look at all offensive players and rank his top 15. Rankings are based solely on this season's efforts. Now, let's get to it -- the Week 8 pecking order is below.

NOTE: Arrows reflect changes from last week's rankings.

Russell Wilson
Seattle Seahawks · QB

I'm not going to lie, I thought Seattle's Week 7 game was a wrap when Wilson won the coin flip heading into overtime. Kudos to Arizona's defense for getting pressure on the MVP front-runner and forcing him to turn the ball over. Sunday's narrow loss was the first time Wilson, who tossed as many picks as TD passes (three), showed signs of being mortal in 2020, giving some hope to other players in the MVP race and the rest of the NFC contenders.

Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs · QB

The Chiefs got help from everybody and then some in their 43-16 victory over the Broncos, including Daniel Sorensen's 50-yard pick-six and Byron Pringle's 102-yard kickoff return for a TD. Mahomes had a pedestrian day by his standards, completing 15-of-23 pass attempts for 200 yards and one TD. He was also sacked three times before backup Chad Henne took his place midway through the fourth quarter, but it's hard to fault the Super Bowl MVP for a so-so outing when his team still won by 27.

Alvin Kamara
New Orleans Saints · RB

No Michael Thomas or Emmanuel Sanders, no problem. Alvin Kamara has put the Saints on his back every week this season and Sunday's contest against Carolina was no different. He logged 14 carries for 83 yards (5.9 yards per carry) and hauled in all eight of his targets for 65 yards. We're not even midway through the season, but Kamara already has a league-best 824 scrimmage yards and seven scrimmage TDs. He's well worth his new contract.

Lamar Jackson
Baltimore Ravens · QB

Week 8 presents the Baltimore Ravens with their biggest game of the season so far: The undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers are coming to town. There's no doubt Jackson wants to end any and all conversation about the Steelers reclaiming the AFC North. He'll be ready.

George Kittle
San Francisco 49ers · TE

The 49ers' rushing attack took it to Bill Belichick's defense and scored four TDs (three by Jeff Wilson). The dominant performance doesn't happen without George Kittle on the line blocking his butt off. He finished with five receptions for 55 yards, but he made his money blocking for the backs in this one.

Derrick Henry
Tennessee Titans · RB

Pittsburgh's defense thwarted Derrick Henry through three quarters on Sunday, limiting him to 35 rush yards on 13 carries. You had a feeling that Henry would break down the Steel Curtain at some point, and while it didn't completely give out, Henry played a big role in the Titans' late rally with 40 yards and a TD on seven carries in the fourth quarter.

DeAndre Hopkins
Arizona Cardinals · WR

Hopkins was questionable to play heading into Sunday's prime-time clash with Seattle, but he took the field, and you'd have no idea he was dealing with an ankle injury given the way he performed. He finished with 10 receptions for 103 yards and scored the Cardinals' opening touchdown on a 35-yard pass from Murray. Hopkins is still the best receiver in the league, as far as I'm concerned.

Davante Adams
Green Bay Packers · WR

It appears that Davante Adams is back in full force after Sunday's career-best 196-yard, two-TD performance vs. Houston. The most eye-popping stat of Week 7 might be this: Adams was responsible for all seven(!) of Green Bay's third-down conversions. Talk about clutch.

Travis Kelce
Kansas City Chiefs · TE

Travis Kelce had a season-low 31 receiving yards in the Chiefs' dominant performance against division-rival Denver. As was the case with Mahomes, though, it's tough to knock Kelce for not producing to his usual standard considering the lopsided result in Kansas City's favor.

Aaron Rodgers
Green Bay Packers · QB

Aaron Rodgers rebounded on the stat sheet in a big way, throwing for four TDs and zero interceptions against the Texans a week after having no TDs and two picks against Tampa Bay. Rodgers is playing like a QB in his prime at age 36, as he's producing at a rate that's comparable to his MVP campaigns (2011, 2014) nearly halfway through the season.

Tom Brady
Tampa Bay Buccaneers · QB

After a rocky start with his new team, Tom Brady has really come on strong over the last five weeks. The Bucs have gone 4-1 over that span, with Brady throwing for 15 touchdowns and only one interception. The 43-year-old is moving his way into the MVP conversation.

Derek Carr
Las Vegas Raiders · QB

The Raiders' offense struggled on Sunday against a surging Bucs defense that prevented Derek Carr from posting a passer rating of 100 or better for the first time this season. A 1-yard TD pass from Carr to Darren Waller late in the third quarter and a Daniel Carlson field goal early in the fourth quarter made it a four-point game before the Bucs squashed any thoughts of a Raiders comeback by scoring three TDs the rest of the way. I must say, Carr played better (two TDs, one pick) against the unit than MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers (zero TDs, two picks) did the week prior. That said, the Raiders need to rebound against the Cleveland Browns to avoid falling below .500.

Stefon Diggs
Buffalo Bills · WR

The New York Jets' defense played Josh Allen and the Bills tough all game long, keeping Buffalo from scoring a single touchdown. Diggs ended up with six catches for 48 yards on 11 targets, but he dropped at least one pass and was unable to make plays on several inaccurate throws by Allen.

Darren Waller
Las Vegas Raiders · TE

Waller continues to be Carr's go-to guy. He found ways to get open and be effective vs. the Bucs' stingy defense on Sunday. Waller's 1-yard TD reception in the third quarter (beating Lavonte David on a slant) was his third score of the season, which matches his total from last season.

Ryan Tannehill
Tennessee Titans · QB

Ryan Tannehill's struggles on the Titans' first five drives (6 of 12 for 50 yards and one TD) had Tennessee facing a 20-point deficit in the third quarter vs. Pittsburgh. A 73-yard TD pass to A.J. Brown sparked a rally, as Tannehill went 12 of 18 for 170 yards and a TD the rest of the way to give his team a chance to take the game into overtime. Stephen Gostkowski had an opportunity to tie the game in the final seconds, but he missed the 45-yard field goal attempt.

DROPPED OUT: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys (previously No. 12); Chase Claypool, WR, Steelers (No. 14).

Follow David Carr on Twitter @DCarr8

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