Over the last couple of seasons, we have said goodbye to some of our favorite NFL players. Ray Lewis, Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne and Charles Woodson are just a few future Hall of Famers who recently hung it up. Soon enough superstars like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Eli Manning will be doing the same.
But with the retirement of one superstar, there is a new young player willing to take his place in the spotlight.
The past couple of seasons, there have been many young players to step in the spotlight. Some of these guys like Odell Beckham Jr. do it right away with their flashy plays, outgoing personality, or just playing in the big market like New York.
Not all players are like Odell Beckham Jr. and reach stardom in their very first season. Players who don't have that outgoing personality or big market have to earn the stardom over a couple of seasons with their play.
There are many players in the league who have done just that in there very brief NFL careers and are ready to take their turn in the spotlight.
Here is my list for the Top 15 Young NFL Players Who Could Be The New Faces Of The NFL.
15 Amari Cooper - Oakland Raiders
Amari Cooper went into the 2015 NFL draft with a lot of hype behind him. The 6-foot-1 receiver from Alabama was coming off a Biletenikoff trophy (top receiver in the country) poised to make an impact right away. He fell right into the Oakland Raiders lap when they selected him at number four overall.
Cooper made an instant impact during his rookie season in Oakland. Cooper snagged 72 balls for 1,070 yards with six touchdowns leading all rookie receivers in those categories. Cooper became the first receiver in Raider history to pass the 1,000 yards receiving mark and was the first Raider to reach that mark since Randy Moss in 2005.
14 Allen Robinson - Jacksonville Jaguars
After a quiet rookie year in 2014, former second round pick Allen Robinson broke out of his shell this past season with the Jaguars. The former Penn State receiver snagged 80 balls for 1,400 yards. Robinsons 14 touchdowns tied him with the Seahawks Doug Baldwin and the Jets Brandon Marshall for the most in 2015.
13 Trai Turner - Carolina Panthers
Many were surprised when Trai Turner left LSU a year early for the NFL in 2014. Some scouts believed an extra year in college would have helped him a lot. That turned out to not matter. In his rookie year, Turner did not allow a single sack and was named to the All-Rookie team.
Turner picked up where he left off last season. He had a streak of 627 snaps before allowing a sack and was named to his first Pro Bowl. Turner's great play helped the Panthers make it to Super Bowl 50, where they lost to the Denver Broncos.
12 Teddy Bridgewater - Minnesota Vikings
In recent years, the Minnesota Vikings haven’t had a stable quarterback to run the offense. But now they have found their guy in Teddy Bridgewater.
After having a great three year career at Louisville, the Vikings selected Bridgewater with the 32nd pick in the 2014 draft. In his rookie year, Bridgewater started as the number two quarterback behind Matt Cassel. After a Cassel injury Bridgewater stepped in and played well enough to earn the starting job. His rookie season, Bridgewater threw for 2,919 yards and 14 touchdowns in 13 games.
11 La'el Collins - Dallas Cowboys
Heading into the 2015 draft, La’el Collins was regarded as a high first round pick. However, days before the draft it was announced that Collins would be talking to Louisiana State Police regarding the shooting of a woman he had a relationship with. Even though this was going on, he still wasn’t considered a suspect of the crime and later went on to never be charged with anything or connected to the crime. However, this still hurt his draft stock greatly as he went undrafted. However, the Dallas Cowboys took a chance and signed him to a three-year deal.
10 Zack Martin - Dallas Cowboys
This list wouldn’t people complete with not at least two Cowboys offensive linemen. Tyron Smith is already an established star, but there are more young stars along the line. Zack Martin was picked 16th overall in the 2014 draft out of Notre Dame. In his first two seasons in the league, Martin is turning out to be one of the most dominant linemen in the game.
In his rookie season, he was named to the All-Rookie team and All-Pro team, the only rookie to make that list.
9 Derek Carr - Oakland Raiders
Derek Carr wasn’t highly regarded as his brother David, who was taken number one overall in 2002, but he still had potential upside. The Raiders, who have had inconsistency at the quarterback position took a chance on him, selecting him in the second round of the 2014.
Carr had a solid rookie campaign, throwing for 3,270 yards and 21 touchdowns. In his second NFL season, Carr improved greatly throwing for 3,987 and 32 touchdowns, which tied for 7th in the league. Carr also brings consistency to the position, something the Raiders haven’t had in a while, starting in all 32 games of his career.
8 Mike Evans - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Mike Evans had a very successful career at Texas A&M when he was snagging balls from Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. The Buccaneers drafted the 6-foot-5 receiver 7th overall in the 2014 draft.
Evans had a great rookie year catching 70 balls for 1,051 yards. 12 of those catches were for touchdowns, a season record for the Buccaneers.
Last season Evans improved to 74 catches for 1,206 yards, but only caught three touchdowns. Along with Jameis Winston running the offense at quarterback now and Doug Martin back to his old self, the Buccaneers offense seems to be heading in the right direction.
7 Anthony Barr - Minnesota Vikings
Over his first two seasons in the NFL, Anthony Barr has turning into one of the better outside linebackers in the league. The Vikings selected the highly talented linebacker from UCLA 9th overall in the 2014 draft.
Barr started 12 games his rookie season recording 70 tackles and four sacks before his season was cut short due to injury.
Barr bounced back in 2015, playing in 14 games and registered 68 tackles and 3.5 sacks, anchoring the defense of the 2015 NFC North Division champions. Last season, Barr was also selected to his first Pro Bowl.
6 C.J. Mosley - Baltimore Ravens
Over the last decade, the Baltimore Ravens have had some of the best linebackers in the NFL with Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs. Now they have C.J. Mosley, who could be included on that list in the coming years. The Ravens just seem to have a knack for finding defensive talent.
The Ravens drafted Mosley 17th overall in the 2014 draft out of Alabama, one of the best defensive schools in college football.
Mosley recorded 133 tackles and three sacks his rookie season and was selected for the Pro Bowl and second team All-Pro.
The Ravens are hoping Mosley can continue his successful and join their successful list of linebackers. Mosley is well on his way and with the Ravens coming off such a disappointing 2015 season, they'll be looking to Mosley to lead a resurgence on defense, as many of their other pieces continue to age.
5 Kelvin Benjamin - Carolina Panthers
Despite losing in the Super Bowl, the Carolina Panthers were one of the most dominant teams in 2015. They came awfully close to a perfect regular season, reaching 14-0 before a Week 16 loss in Atlanta. They stormed through the NFC playoffs only to run into a historically great defense in the Denver Broncos. Now they’ll be back with their young number one receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who missed all of last season with a knee injury.
Benjamin was a standout wide receiver at Florida State who caught the game winning touchdown in the 2013 National Championship game. He forgoed his final two years there and was drafted 28th overall by the Panthers in 2014.
In his lone season, Benjamin set rookie records for the Panthers in catches (73), receiving yards (1008), and touchdowns (9).
4 Blake Bortles - Jacksonville Jaguars
Since entering NFL, the Jacksonville Jaguars haven’t had much to cheer about. Soon enough they will be behind their new franchise quarterback Blake Bortles. After an up and down rookie year in 2014, Bortles established himself as the quarterback of the future in 2015.
Last season, Bortles threw for 4,428 yards and his 35 touchdowns finished tied for second in the league. Bortles has also shown that he can use his legs too, rushing for 310 yards and two touchdowns. The AFC South is one of the weaker divisions in football, so Bortles has a tremendous opportunity to be a savior for a Jaguars franchise that has been a joke for much of the last decade.
3 DeAndre Hopkins - Houston Texans
DeAndre Hopkins has improved every season since he entered the NFL in 2013. He went from the number two receiver to replacing longtime Texan great Andre Johnson, as the number one receiver in Houston. His emergence made it a little easier for Houston to part with their franchise's all-time greatest player.
Despite having Brian Hoyer as a quarterback last season, Hopkins managed to catch 111 passes for 1,521 yards and 11 touchdowns, ranking in the top of the league for all of those categories. These numbers got Hopkins selected to the second team All-Pro.
2 Khalil Mack - Oakland Raiders
In his two years in the NFL, Khalil Mack has showed that he is and will be one of the best linebackers in the league for years to come. Even though he played for a smaller conference school at SUNY Buffalo, Mack was a projected as a high first round pick in 2014. The Raiders did just that, taking him at 5th overall. Even for a top five pick, he looks like the steal of the 2014 draft. Jadeveon Clowney got all of the hype coming into the draft and was selected first overall, but a small contingent of draft experts soon saw Mack as the superior prospect. We're now finding out why.
Mack has been flat out spectacular for the Raiders in his two seasons. Last season, Mack recorded 77 tackles and 15 sacks which ranked second in the NFL only too J.J. Watt.
Mack became the first player ever to be selected to the first team All-Pro at two different positions.
1 Todd Gurley - Los Angeles Rams
Coming off an ACL injury in 2014 while at Georgia, teams were wary of drafting Todd Gurley despite his high grade talent. The Rams took that chance by taking him 10th overall and it has paid off so far.
In his rookie season, Gurley rushed for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns in 13 games. Even though he missed three games, Gurley still finished 4th in the NFL in rushing yards. Gurley's fantastic numbers earned him the Offensive Rookie of the Year and second team All-Pro.
With the franchise now moved to Los Angeles, Gurley is poised to be the face of the new Los Angeles Rams for many years to come if he can stay healthy. Jared Goff's first year in L.A. will likely see him handing off the ball quite a bit to Gurley, which is fine, because Gurley is already looking like the coming generation's most dominant running back.
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