Anyone who has taken a look at the NFL's countdown of the top 100 players knows that the list is...kind of a joke. For a fresher spin on things, though, NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah took a look at the top 10 NFL players under the age of 25. When I saw the article headline, the first thing I asked myself was, "would any member of the Browns be on the list?" Note, this list would not include players from April's draft. Think of your answer, check out the article, and then look after the jump.
I didn't think anyone from the Browns would crack the top 10 (but believe me, I definitely triple-checked to make sure Joe Thomas was over the age of 25, even though I knew he was), and sure enough, I was right. There were only two names that surprised me on the top 10. The first was center Maurkice Pouncey:
Pouncey has put together two dominant seasons for the Steelers and established himself as the top center in the NFL. The Jets' Nick Mangold and the Panthers' Ryan Kalil are both outstanding but neither possesses Pouncey's combination of size and athletic ability. He has the strength to anchor in pass protection and the power to create movement at the point of attack in the run game. He is outstanding at the second level. He can adjust and pick off linebackers with very little effort. He should be the top player at his position for a very long time.
Maybe it's my hate for the Steelers, but I disagree. Pouncey is a good player, but I don't think he should be in the same tier as the other players in the list.
The other name that surprised me was Matthew Stafford. He definitely deserves to be up there; I was just stunned that the guy is still only 24 years old. Brandon Weeden, sadly, will never be eligible for this list since he is already 28 years old.
Which members of the Browns were closest to being considered? The top candidates would have to be wide receiver Greg Little (22), DL Jabaal Sheard (23), and CB Joe Haden (23). Little was no where near a big-time threat last year, and Sheard was explosive but not "Jason Pierre-Paul-esque." Haden made the list as one of Jeremiah's "just missed the cut" players, and that sounds about right.