ESPN Insider KC Joyner recently penned an article declaring his top 10 NFL players under the age of 25 to build a franchise around. Hakeem Nicks of the New York Giants, who is still just 24, checks in on Joyner's list at No. 6. That's fine. What isn't fine, in my mind is that defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, 23, is nowhere to be found on Joyner's list.
How is that possible? Here is a kid who, at the age of 23, is the best defensive player on the defending Super Bowl champions. A guy who, in his second season in the league in 2011, was fourth in the league with 16.5 sacks, and was named an All-Pro. A guy who is probably the most athletic defensive end in the game, and is already virtually unblockable at times while still learning his craft. Pierre-Paul had a +30.3 grade from Pro Football Focus, sixth in the league among defensive ends in 2011.
In all honesty, based purely on upside, I think JPP belongs on this list even more than Nicks does.
It is really difficult to argue with Denver linebacker Von Miller being on the list after a rookie season that saw him register 12 sacks, 19 quarterback hits, 29 hurries and 65 tackles along with an astounding +50.4 PFF grade.
There are, however, four players on Joyner's list who have yet to play a down in the NFL. Those are quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck, running back Trent Richardson and offensive tackle Matt Kalil. I can almost understand putting RGIII and Luck on the list, but Richardson or Kalil? What is Joyner thinking? Really, in my mind, hard to justify putting anyone who has yet to play a snap on the list ahead of a 23-year-old All Pro who already has to be in the conversation when discussing best defensive players in the league.