ESPN: New York Giants' David Wilson, Jason Pierre-Paul will be among 2016 elite

The Star-Ledger-US PRESSWIRE

Giants RB David Wilson and DE Jason Pierre-Paul are expected to be top players in 2016, according to ESPN.

We'd all like to be able to predict the future. Unfortunately, we can't.

But that hasn't stopped ESPN from trying.

ESPN Insider released its projections for the top teams and players when 2016 rolls around. Included are New York Giants running back David Wilson and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, both of whom are expected to be among the NFL's elite at their respected position.

[Related: Team-by-Team Future Power Rankings]

Wilson is gearing up for his second season in the pros, his first as a full-time starter. His youth and potential have led ESPN to believe he will be the seventh-best running back in the NFL in three years.

"I am going to operate under the assumption that Wilson learns how to protect the football and pass block by the 2016 season. If not, his stint in this league will be a short one," Matt Williamson wrote.

"But there is a reason that the thrifty Giants used a first-round pick on Wilson, who quickly established himself an explosive offensive weapon and one of the best kickoff returners in the league. But the best is yet to come."

Wilson is listed behind the likes of Trent Richardson, LeSean McCoy, Doug Martin, Marcus Lattimore, Christine Michael and Giovani Bernard, and ahead of Mark Ingram, C.J. Spiller and Jamaal Charles.

It's certainly a reasonable expectation. The league's top backs -- Arian Foster, Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, Ray Rice -- will 30 or near that mark, an age which typically has spelled the downside of a running back's career.

Like Wilson, Richardson and Martin are both entering their second seasons in the NFL. McCoy is only 24, Spiller is 25 and Charles is 26, so in three years all three will be around or in the prime of the careers.

The more curious selections are Lattimore, Michael, Bernard and Ingram. Lattimore is coming off of a serious knee injury, and like Bernard and Michael have yet to make an impact in the league. Ingram is entering his third season with the New Orleans Saints, but really has yet to put his stamp on the offense.

It's interesting that players such as Alfred Morris or Stevan Ridley were not included.

Jason Pierre-Paul

In the list of the projected top pass rushers of 2016, JPP landed the No. 7 spot.

Pierre-Paul, 24, has amassed 27.5 sacks in his first three years in the league, and of all the pass rushers on the list, ESPN believes the Giants defensive end has the highest upside.

"JPP has as much upside as any player on this list and has been a quick learner; he didn't start playing football until his junior year of high school and played just one season of major college football," Field Yates wrote.

"He has sensational length, explosiveness and power off of the edge. He had a quiet 2012 season (by his own standards), which was likely impacted by a back injury that he recently had surgery on. It's possible he'll return for the opening of the 2013 season, but the injury is certainly something to monitor for the 24-year-old."

Von Miller took home the top spot on the list, followed by South Carolina Gamecock DE Jadeveon Clowney, J.J. Watt, Aldon Smith, Clay Matthews and Geno Atkins. Rounding out the top 10 are Justin Houston, Chandler Jones and Brian Orakpo.

Miller, Watt, Smith, Matthews and Atkins are already the NFL's top pass rushers, and only Matthews is older than 25.

It's hard to argue against this list, as each player on this has already proven their ability to get after the quarterback in the league. The exception is obviously Clowney, but we all saw what this athletic phenom is capable of doing, and scouts and GMs are drooling at the nation of snatching him next spring.

Follow Sam on Twitter @SamSpiegs

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