5 Young Players Who Are Making The NFL Fun Again

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Todd Gurley of the Los Angeles Rams / Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

It’s 2018 and professional football finds itself as a political battleground, a national health crisis, and the nation’s unrivaled sports TV draw all at once. The 2018 season just so happens to feature the most exciting crop of young players the NFL has seen in a generation. With week one in the books, the rest of season will be the story of these five young players who are giving the beleaguered NFL a much needed blast of energy.

Todd Gurley | Running Back, Los Angeles Rams

For a 24-year-old, Todd Gurley already possesses the awards cabinet of an accomplished veteran. After winning the Offensive ROY award in 2015, he rebounded from a rough 2016 to win the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year award and the RB1 spot on 2018’s NFL All-Pro team.

If last night’s game proves anything, it’s that Gurley is only getting started. In the season opener, Gurley rushed for 108 yards and caught three passes for 39 yards, including an 18-yard score on a shovel pass.

“That’s what I do,” Gurley said after the game. Gurley remains the leading argument for why a great young player should chill during the preseason.

Jalen Ramsey | Cornerback, Jacksonville Jaguars

Though he’s only a second-year player, Jalen Ramsey has already earned the reputation as one of the game’s best cornerbacks. He’s also well beyond his years as an agitator: “I think [Buffalo Bills draft pick Josh] Allen is trash,” he told GQ earlier this year, with the casual, off-the-cuff grace of a seasoned talker. Many have pegged Ramsey as Deion Sanders’s spiritual successor, a comparison that the pair have only leaned into.

After a high-profile clash with a healthy Odell Beckham Jr. during week one—a matchup that most NFL fans would have paid PPV-level prices to hear mic’d up—Ramsey’s next assignment is the New England Patriots.

Patrick Mahomes | Quarterback, Kansas City Chiefs

The first thing anyone talks about with Patrick Mahomes is: the dude has a cannon. He threw for 819 yards in a college game against national powerhouse Oklahoma. During this year’s preseason, Mahomes threw a touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill that travelled 69 yards in the air, which was almost a record. If he had thrown that same pass in the regular season, it would have been only the fifth time a 60-plus yard pass was completed in the history of the NFL. It’s no surprise that his arm has genetic precedent: his father is former Major League reliever Pat Mahomes.

In the Chiefs’ offense, which is easily the most fun system in the league, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid will be deploying Mahomes’s arm gradually. Though he made a number of insane, body-twisting throws in Sunday’s win against the Chargers, Reid held Mahomes back on third downs and didn’t ask too much of the second-year player, who was making only his second start evert. Once the trust is there, especially with the Chiefs’ offensive weapons… bombs away.

Marcus Peters | Cornerback, Los Angeles Rams

Marcus Peters plays with an edge. While his aggressiveness has sometimes cost him—reactions to this attitude likely led to Peters’s premature exit from Kansas City—Peters is likely to thrive in Rams head coach Sean McVay’s player-friendly culture. Paired with another ballhawk, the similarly live-wired Aqib Talib, the Rams’ starting corners form the most exciting unit in the league.

While Peters has made plenty of noise within the NFL, he’s also been an active presence in Oakland’s community. Peters is mentored by Marshawn Lynch, and when Lynch is done playing, Peters will carry the torch for his hometown community of Oakland.

Jimmy Garoppolo, Quarterback, 49ers

Before Sunday’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings—who made the NFC title game last year—Jimmy Garoppolo hadn’t lost a game. Much has been made of the big contract the 49ers tendered in the offseason, but it’s not Garoppolo's fault that the market lined up for him. In his short time as a starter, even factoring in a subpar performance against Minnesota, Garoppolo already looks like the real deal:

Think of Garoppolo as a young, potential Tom Brady—without all the baggage.

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